GRAMMY-winning musician, composer, arranger, and producer Juan de Marcos, architect of theBuena Vista Social Club sessions that helped reintroduce the classic sound of popular Cuban music to the world, celebrates the release of Absolutely Live II, the first release of his own label, DM Ahora! with a mid-winter tour that includes concerts at the Highline Ballroom in New York and Berklee Performance Center in Boston.
A CD+DVD release featuring performances at the Cervantino International Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico and The Strathmore Center for the Arts in North Bethesda, Maryland,Absolutely Live IIshowcases his 14-piece Afro-Cuban All Stars at the peak of their powers.
Long considered one of the great contemporary Cuban dance bands,de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars will be heating up winter dance floors across the U.S. with a 2018 tour that takes them from coast to coast for three weeks, beginning on January 10, before heading out to Europe.
De Marcos founded the Afro-Cuban All Stars in 1997 to record Afro-Cuban music with a large ensemble format and period orchestrations and then bring it out into the world. It yielded at the time the seminal A Toda Cuba Le Gusta, part of the initial Buena Vista Social Club trilogy that also included Introducing Rubén González, also arranged by de Marcos.
His efforts received the inaugural WOMEX Award in 1999.
But under the direction of de Marcos - once dubbed "The Quincy Jones of Cuban music" - the All Stars evolved into a multigenerational ensemble that continues to showcase the breadth and power of Afro-Cuban music. The band set a seemingly impossible high standard from the outset, and yet "the current incarnation of Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars may be the best in its legendary, star-studded 20-year history," said Timba.com, a U.S.-based website specializing in Cuban music.
"Our concerts are a tour of Cuban music through all its genres and its history," said de Marcos, and Viva Mexico!, the Audio CD recorded at the prestigious Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico, revisits Afro-Cuban Jazz (the smooth "Yaimara´s Groove") and irresistible versions of classics such as "El Cuarto de Tula," and "Candela," both of which became international hits on the original Buena Vista Social Club album, but also a salute to modern timba ("La Mujer del Barbaro").
It's a stirring performance, loose-limbed yet tightly focused - and impeccably captured.
"There are no tricks, no Auto-Tune and no overdubs. The album is exactly what happened," says de Marcos. "All you have is the concert, and these were hot concerts. The Mexican audience was great, very responsive. Lots of people couldn't get in and they were outside shouting. My singers were singing for those in front, but also for the people outside. When you can see and hear people enjoying what you're doing, you give the best. This is what you live for."