Feb. 25, 2009
Hancher presents Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars March 10
The University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will present Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in the Iowa City West High School Auditorium.
Juan de Marcos González, who has been called "the Quincy Jones of Cuba," has a mission to show the world the wealth, diversity and vitality of Cuban music. His work with the Afro-Cuban All Stars, the Buena Vista Social Club, Ruben González, Ibrahim Ferrer, Sierra Maestra and other artists has raised the profile of Cuban music throughout the world.
He formed the Afro-Cuban All Stars as a multi-generational big band to explore a broader scope than the Buena Vista Social Club projects, ambitiously paying tribute to the historical and contemporary diversity of Cuban music. It is a band for dancing, combining a variety of contrasting styles including classic son montuno, contemporary timba, swinging big band guajira, Afro-Cuban jazz, danzon, the pure tribal rhythms of abakua, bolero and more.
Ry Cooder commented, "This music speaks to you in a natural voice. You don't have that in modern music anywhere else. In Cuba it is there everyday, flowing like a river."
González was born in Havana in 1954 and grew up surrounded by music: His father was a singer and played with the great Arsenio Rodriguez. At the university he studied hydraulic engineering and Russian before working as a consultant at the Agronomic Science Institute, gaining his doctorate in 1989.
While at the university he co-founded the group Sierra Maestra in 1978. Styled as a traditional Cuban nine-piece group (tres, trumpet, bass, percussion and vocals), the dynamic young band's aim was to bring about an appreciation of Cuban song by the youth of the island. The band achieved great success, recording 14 albums in Cuba, widely touring Africa, Japan and Europe, and receiving numerous awards.
In 1994, Sierra Maestra was taken to London to record the album "Dundunbanza". For this recording, the producer encouraged the group to expand their line-up to include piano, and a larger trumpet section, in a tribute to Cuba's '40s and '50 styles. The success of that project led to a big-band recording in Havana, featuring the neglected stars of this "golden age" of Cuban music.
The Afro-Cuban All Stars album was the first to be recorded in the now famous Buena Vista Social Club sessions, and González' band provided the springboard for many of the musicians.
Following the album's release González led the Afro-Cuban All Stars on their debut European and U.S. tours and directed the Buena Vista Social Club in concerts in Amsterdam and New York's Carnegie Hall, as seen in the film "The Buena Vista Social Club."
Despite the new worldwide success of Cuban music, it is the appreciation of the music within Cuba itself that González finds most satisfying: "When you live in an isolated country you always think things are better elsewhere. Because of that the influence of American music has been very strong. People were trying to play American music before they learned Cuban music.
"We have to use what is good from around the world, but first we have to be conscious of the importance of our own music. A few years ago young Cuban musicians didn't care about real Cuban music. Now there are hundreds of bands playing traditional music. Of course music will change, there will be new dances and styles. But we are going to keep the roots. I am very confident about that."
The March 10 concert is supported by William Matthes and Alicia Brown-Matthes; William H. and Bertha S. Olin; and Phelan, Tucker, Mullen, Walker, Tucker & Gelman, L.L.P, through the University of Iowa Foundation. Media support is provided by the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Tickets are $40/35/30; UI student $36/15; senior citizen $36/31.50/27; youth $28/24.50/21. Tickets may be ordered online at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu/tickets.html.
The Hancher box office is open for phone or walk-up business in Suite 107 in the south building of the Lindquist Center, at the corner of Madison and Burlington Streets, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Parking is available in the metered lot by the UI Main Library on Madison Street, or in the Old Capitol Town Center parking ramp at the corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets.
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