P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
August 2, 2002
Newest Latin Dance Party at MASS MoCA Features Afro-Cuban Sound
(North Adams, Mass.) The Afro-Cuban hip-hop funk band, Yerba Buena, has recently become a critical favorite, a potent club attraction, and a red-hot new name on New York City's Latin dance scene. They will play at MASS MoCA's Cuban Dance Party on Saturday, August 31, at 7:30 P.M. Yerba Buena is a big, rhythm-oriented band which includes a horn section and percussion combined with both male and female vocals with a beguiling English/Spanish delivery. Their drums and bass brew up unstoppable dance rhythms with turntable accents and a fiery lyrical brass darting in and out. The New York Times called them "one of New York's best new dance bands," and dance instructors arranged by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival will be on hand to teach new steps throughout the night.
The group was started by Venezuelan Andres Levin - a gifted songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist whose skills are currently in high demand throughout the fast-growing Latin alternative music scene. After moving to New York City, he was introduced to Cuban singer Xiomara Laugart and jumped at the chance to produce a record featuring her. He brought in Descemer Bueno, a conservatory-trained jazz and bolero musician from Cuba who began rapping after receiving encouragement from Levin. Bueno described his unique sound in a recent interview for The New York Times: "The rappers in Cuba very much want to sound like American hip-hop, but I think Latin elements like cumbia, reggae, and Afrobeat should be more emphasized." They added several more Cuban-born musicians including percussionist Pedrito Martinez and guitarist Ahmed Barroso, as well as veteran New York jazz horn players like Roy Hargrove and Brian Lynch. They frequently collaborate with R&B and hip-hop artists such as Bilal, Me'shell Ndegeocello, and Dead Prez. "The best new Afrobeat band on the scene," according to The Fader magazine, which goes on to describe their sound as "brawny, ecstatic and deeply funky in an Afro-Atlantic way."
Anres Levin's home included an electronic music recording studio for his father's band, and in 1988 he moved to the U.S. to study music at the Berklee School of Music and later at Juilliard. He began working with Arto Lindsay, producer of Marisa Monte, Laurie Anderson, and Caetano Veloso and was hired by Producer Nile Rodgers (Madonna, David Bowie, Chic) as full-time Synclavier programmer/arranger. He participated in albums with artists such as the B-52s, Diana Ross, and INXS. Levin formed his own production company in 1991 through which he produced and composed for Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, David Byrne, Mica Paris, and Arto Lindsay. Since 1997 he has been focusing on work with Latin-American rock and international artists. Levin has received several awards for his production of Latin Rock music, including a Grammy nomination.
Cuban vocalist Xiomara Laugart started her career at a young age as a background vocalist with Pablo Milanes. After having recorded albums under her own name in Cuba, she moved to Rome and later to New York. She has recorded an album of jazz standards for Sony Music Japan and contributed five performances to the U.S. compilation Latin Lullaby. Most recently she has worked with Kip Hanrahan on his Deep Rhumba project. She was featured on the first single from the recent album by Fun Loving Criminals released worldwide in 2001. Laugart's monthly showcases at New York City's famed underground Zinc Bar have been called legendary.
Descemer Bueno brings with him a stellar reputation as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and songwriter. Before moving to New York in 2000, Bueno played with famed Cuban trumpeter Bobby Carcasses and visited Stanford University as an artist in residence. Bueno is a restless creator whose remarkable skills have already garnered him recognition in the U.S. His recent set of bolero compositions for veteran singer Fernando Alvarez earned him accolades in Miami's Latin music community. He is now collaborating on new material with premiere songwriter Desmond Child (Ricky Martin).
Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Pedro Martinez is a remarkable percussionist of the Afro-Cuban tradition who plays conga, timbale and shekere. Martinez was selected as the first-place winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2000. He performed and recorded several albums in Cuba with the group Oba-Ilu and artist Tata Guines. Martinez moved to the U.S. in 1998. He has worked alongside a number of respected Latin jazz musicians and groups, including the Conga Kings, Chico O'Farrill, and Los Hombres Calientes. His solo turns, combining chanting and conga-playing, are always high points in Yerba Buena's performances.
Tickets to the Cuban Dance Party are $12 for adults, $6 for kids. MASS MoCA members get 10% off. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams from 10 A.M. until 6 P.M. daily. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or online at www.massmoca.org. A full Cuban-inspired dinner will be available starting at 6:30 P.M. when the doors open.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on a 13- acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of visual and performing artists charting new territory.
For Immediate Release