Changüí · The Sound of Guantánamo · New Box-Set

CHANGÜÍ – The Sound Of Guantánamo is the first comprehensive collection of changüí music, bringing a rarely documented living culture and its people out from the shadows. Previous singles shared from the collection are “Inspiración de los Pueblos” by Grupo Familia Vera, “Changüí en Yateras” by Grupo Estrella Campesina and “Cuidao con la Lengua” by the all-female Las Flores del Changüí.

Petaluma Records shares the fourth single from the upcoming CHANGÜÍ – The Sound of Guantánamo, a new 3 CD box set of on-site recordings of changüí music from Cuba’s Guantánamo region. “Hazlo Como Yo” is performed by Grupo Changüí de Guantánamo, the first formal changüí group which was founded in 1945 and continues to uphold the high energy, celebratory tradition of changüí. The box set will be released on July 30, and is the first comprehensive collection of its kind, capturing the traditional music style that has existed in the Guantánamo region for more than 150 years.

In Guantánamo, changüí means party. The very word changüí is derived from the Congolese word for party and it’s easy to hear why: the musical tradition is a joyful bundle of hooks, riffs and foot-stomping choruses played for the sole purpose of celebration, togetherness and inclusivity. Founded in 1945, Grupo Changüí de Guantánamo is the first official changüí group, becoming the standard bearers of traditional urban changüí. Grupo Changüí de Guantánamo is one of the only groups featured in the collection to have previously recorded music, and the only group to have played outside of Cuba. In 1989 the group was invited to the U.S. by the Smithsonian Institute and recorded for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The band has changed shape throughout the decades, welcoming new members and younger generations, but remains the most well-known changüí group.

CHANGÜÍ – The Sound Of Guantánamo – Box-set cover

The recordings were collected by independent producer and music journalist Gianluca Tramontana, whose roots music expertise has been featured in numerous pieces for MOJO Magazine, Rolling Stone, NPR and BBC, and has been visiting Cuba since the 1990s. On one trip to Guantánamo in 2017, he observed that of the little documentation that exists of changüí, almost nothing had been recorded on location in the countryside or villages, capturing the authenticity of the music that is meant to be performed and enjoyed communally. Over the span of two years, Tramontana immersed himself in the largely overlooked 150-plus year-old culture of the rural, riff-based, mostly improvised music. He traveled around Guantánamo, a region of Cuba overshadowed by its geo-political issues, capturing the music of changüíseros from the mountainous areas of Yateras, where changüí is said to have been born, to Guantánamo City, where it drifted in from the mountains in the early 1900s. It has been stated many times that Cuban culture starts East and moves West, and Guantánamo Province is just about as far East as you can go. This area is the source of much of the Cuban music that has inspired the likes of Buena Vista Social Club, Celina González and Compay Segundo.

Back in New York, Tramontana shared some of the recordings with four-time GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Steve Rosenthal. Rosenthal, known for his archival and restoration work of Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie and Les Paul collections, immediately recognized that Tramontana’s digital recordings were special — that they managed to capture the energy and excitement of the festivities happening in areas of the country not often explored. “Gianluca spent months in the countryside getting to know the people of the Guantánamo province,” Rosenthal points out, “so the musicians were completely at ease. We’re listening to a real snapshot of a unique gathering which makes any listener feel like they’re actually there.”

With support from Petaluma Records, mix engineer Ed McEntee and three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning mastering engineer Michael Graves worked with Rosenthal and Tramontana to complete the production of this 50 track, 3 CD collection, curated from well over 200 recordings made in Guantánamo. GRAMMY® Award-winning graphic designer Barb Bersche created the physical design and layout for the packaging and the extensive booklet that accompanies the extraordinary box set, CHANGÜÍ – The Sound Of Guantánamo.

Source: Missing Piece Group

Danilo Navas
Founder, Editor, Webmaster: Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report, Toronto Music Report. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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