Septeto Habanero
Orgullo de los Soneros
Circular Moves 7001

For eight decades, Septeto Habanero has defined the son, a Cuban national heritage once dismissed as "too African." The son originated in eastern Cuba after French sugar planters arrived with their slaves in the 1790s, fleeing the Haitian revolution. Cane workers fused the Spanish décima lyrical form with their own African percussion traditions, inspiring the emergent rumba and son. Habanero originated in 1920 as a sextet of guitar, tres, bongó, bass, and a vocal pair on claves, maracas and güiro. The addition of cornet in 1927, and Félix Chappottín's famed trumpet artistry, forged the classic brass sound that infuses all Cuban music, salsa and Latin popular dance. The album offers four Habanero standards, including a stately "Mama Inez," and songs by founding vocalists Felipe Nery Cabrera and Gerardo Martínez. Felipe Ferrer Caraballo lends a ringing tres, the vocalists (all suave in their 60s) are master soneros, and guitarist Germán Pedro Ibáñez (only the band's third leader in 80 years) contributes seven compositions, including the sublime "Se enteró." This is an important title from a veritable Cuban cultural institution. - Michael Stone

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