A report by Judy Cantor-Navas for Billboard.
The band, led by Buena Vista Social Club A&R man Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, will hit the road following the release of a new live album.
The Afro-Cuban All Stars, the big band led by Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, will heat up the U.S. East Coast with several concerts, starting with a show Jan. 10 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. Dates in Philadelphia, New York City and Boston will follow, before the orchestra heads to the West coast for shows in Berkeley and Northridge, CA. The tour winds up on Feb. 3 at Atlanta’s Rialto Center for the Arts.
Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, of course, was the man who hand-picked the musicians for Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club recording, at about the same time that he brought together the first incarnation of the Afro-Cuban All Stars.
While Buena Vista referenced Cuban country and the bolero tradition, the big and brassy All Stars paid homage to the great Cuban orchestras. The All-Stars first album, A Todo Cuba Le Gusta, was released in 1997, deserved more attention, but it was overshadowed by the Buena Vista, which blew up the same year. But twenty years on, the Afro-Cuban All Stars are going strong.
The U.S. concerts follow the release of a new live album, Absolutely Live II – Viva Mexico!, testimony to the group’s staying power as the consummate Cuban touring band, whose repertoire combines the infallible feel-good vibes and familiarity of classic Cuban music with the deep groove of the contemporary Havana sound. As the album attests, a dose of this music by a multigenerational line-up of pros and prodigies is far better than a SAD sun lamp for anyone experiencing the winter blues.
See the upcoming dates below.
Afro-Cuban All Stars U.S. Tour Dates:
Wed Jan 10 South Orange, NJ SOPAC
Thurs Jan 11 Port Washington, NY Landmark on Main Street
Fri Jan 12 Philadelphia, PA Kimmel Center
Sat Jan 13 New York, NY Highline Ballroom
Sun Jan 14 Boston, MA Berklee Performance Center
Tue/Wed Jan 16 & 17 Berkeley, CA Freight and Salvage
Thurs Jan 19 Northridge, CA Cal State University
Sat Feb Atlanta, GA Rialto Center for the Arts