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    Musicians in New Orleans and Cuba discover their shared heritage and related sounds : NPR

    Musicians in New Orleans and Cuba are exploring their shared heritage and related sounds. Highschool musicians from New Orleans are discovering widespread floor with college students at a Havana conservatory.


    Musicians from New Orleans and Cuba are exploring new collaborations that spotlight related appears like this new tune from the New Orleans funk band Galactic and Cuban singer Cimafunk.


    CIMAFUNK: (Singing in non-English language).

    KELLY: On a latest cultural trade to Havana, highschool musicians from each locations found widespread floor, and NPR’s Debbie Elliott adopted alongside.

    DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: It is a bit chaotic within the band room of the Guillermo Tomas music college on the outskirts of Havana. Scores of younger gamers tune up their devices and prepare to be taught some new music.

    UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Talking Spanish).

    ELLIOTT: Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, the New Orleans musician, sits on the entrance row to absorb the efficiency.

    TROY ANDREWS: They are saying – do you converse Spanish? I say, I’m from the Treme, so I converse Tremish (ph).

    ELLIOTT: Andrews, who grew up within the historic Treme neighborhood, is right here for a cultural trade sponsored partially by his Trombone Shorty Basis, a program that nurtures budding, younger artists in his hometown. Eight of them are on this journey, they usually’re spending the day at this conservatory with Cuban college students who’ve ready a particular tune.


    ELLIOTT: Andrews is moved to listen to them play one thing that he is recorded – the well-known Louis Armstrong tune, “St. James Infirmary.”


    ELLIOTT: Troy Andrews first got here to Cuba as a younger teenager on an analogous cultural trade journey.

    ANDREWS: I by no means forgot it, and that fashion of music has all the time stayed with me as a result of I really feel like New Orleans and Havana are like sisters and brothers, you realize? The soul, the resilience of the individuals right here is sort of similar to what we expertise in New Orleans. In order that’s why once I come right here, I do not really feel like I am in a international place.

    ELLIOTT: He feels these connections within the meals, the structure and in the way in which you may hear exuberant music taking part in within the streets. Now he needs these younger musicians to choose up on that. They begin to in a free-for-all, binational jam session. What began as a New Orleans-style, brass band second-line tune morphed into one thing with Latin aptitude.

    ANDREWS: And so we bought (vocalizing) ba bum, boo ba dun dun dun da duh (ph).

    And that is New Orleans. And then you definitely’ll go like (vocalizing) ba-nuh, ba-nuh, bump bump, ba-nuh ba-duh (ph).

    So you bought the (vocalizing).

    There was no phrases exchanged. It was all music, so there was only one observe that made it really feel very completely different, very salsa-like as a substitute of second line. And now it will be ingrained in our head that we’ll make a association based mostly off of the way in which they performed and produce it again to New Orleans, after which that can create a complete nother factor.


    ELLIOTT: The scholars are into it, leaning in with their trumpets and clarinets, every exhibiting the opposite one thing new but acquainted.

    YORDI SANTIAGO-CORTEZ: Simply in the future of me being right here – I’ve seen a lot that I’ve by no means heard.

    ELLIOTT: Yordi Santiago-Cortez, a clarinet participant and highschool senior from Kenner, La., says he feels an emotional pull. So does John Rhodes, a 16-year-old drummer from New Orleans. He says their sounds actually meshed.

    JOHN RHODES: The Latin groove and the massive 4 out of brass band second line – all of it coincides in the case of us taking part in collectively – simply the music tradition, ‘trigger they, like – regardless of the place we come from, it doesn’t matter what language you converse, it doesn’t matter what race, it like – music is only a common language.

    ELLIOTT: These college students share greater than only a love for music, says Lilian Lombera Herrera, a cultural producer with Horns to Havana, one of many teams concerned on this cultural trade. She’s Cuban however now lives in New Orleans.

    LILIAN LOMBERA HERRERA: All of that’s a part of our similar ancestors.

    ELLIOTT: Individuals of West African descent introduced right here throughout the Atlantic slave commerce.

    LOMBERA HERRERA: A number of the Latin tinge that they mentioned concerning the taste of the second traces and of the music come from the Caribbean, and it is a undeniable fact that it was an enormous migration from Haiti that got here by means of Cuba and continued to New Orleans.

    ELLIOTT: These Afro-Cuban roots are what Erik Alejandro Iglesias Rodriguez is all about.

    CIMAFUNK: I am Cimafunk. I am a Cuban artist, and I make Afro-Cuban music.

    ELLIOTT: The title Cimafunk is a nod to his heritage. Cimarrons have been African captives who escaped slavery. For a number of years, he is been spending time in New Orleans collaborating with artists there, together with Tank and the Bangas, the Soul Rebels, and now Trombone Shorty.

    CIMAFUNK: You are feeling that type of loopy vibe round, and it is the identical in New Orleans. On the similar time, all the issues and all of the conditions – the financial, social, every little thing – however you’re feeling that the individuals maintain the soul.

    ELLIOTT: The financial state of affairs in Cuba is dire, with shortages of meals and gasoline and energy blackouts. Report numbers of migrants are fleeing the communist-controlled island. The disaster is a end result of a number of issues, together with the pandemic, U.S. sanctions and a decent grip on the financial system by the one-party authorities that hasn’t adopted by means of on promised financial reforms. Frustrations boiled up in avenue demonstrations final 12 months that have been met with a extreme authorities crackdown. New, harsher controls on freedom of expression have been put in place. Some artists have been jailed, and others have been compelled into exile. Cimafunk says the crackdown is incorrect, however he does not assume fleeing Cuba is the reply. He is hopeful exchanges like this one can open up chance.

    CIMAFUNK: All of the political scenes and all of the governmental scenes – it is all the time onerous to speak about that with out damage or with out being in a single or different facet. This interchange – individuals arriving right here, taking part in for the individuals, collaborating with younger musicians, going to the varsity to see the youngsters – that is good.


    ELLIOTT: Again at Guillermo Tomas college, the scholars are engaged on songs they are going to carry out collectively because the opening act for a Trombone Shorty live performance in Havana. Fourteen-year-old Juan Licor Doreste has a large grin as he weaves across the different musicians, snapping his fingers with the beat, a seeming bandleader within the making.

    JUAN LICOR DORESTE: I play trumpet.


    ELLIOTT: With the assistance of tour information Frank Gonzales, Juan describes this expertise.

    LICOR DORESTE: (By interpreter) Having the prospect of, you realize, exchanging with musicians from New Orleans…

    FRANK GONZALES: He is a jazz lover, so think about.

    LICOR DORESTE: (By interpreter) …And with the ability to do that jam session with them has been superb.

    ELLIOTT: Juan is certainly one of a number of Cuban college students to get new devices from this contingent from the US, which included vacationers who paid to come back see concert events placed on by each Cuban and New Orleans bands. Juan goals of sometime having his personal jazz band.

    LICOR DORESTE: (Talking Spanish).

    GONZALES: Oh, there you go. He wish to be a future Wynton Marsalis.

    ELLIOTT: And maybe in the future be a headliner in New Orleans.

    Debbie Elliott, NPR Information, Havana.

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