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AWESOME AFRICA MUSIC FESTIVAL #2 (article first published : 2006-09-5)

Central Durban is set to rumba, samba and salsa for the eight annual Awesome Africa Music Festival from September 30 to October 1.

Durban will play host to a Street Party for the first time in and around the City Hall precinct which serves to reinforce the eThekwini Municipality’s drive to develop a Cultural Precinct within Durban’s Inner City district in readiness for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. For those who want to sip on Havana cocktails, smoke Cuban cigars, dance the salsa with legends and feel the spirit of Brazil, then head down to Awesome Africa. The festival again forms the grand finale and anchor for the Celebrate Durban season. The venues will be the City Hall and the Zulu Lounge (previous Cellar) at the Playhouse.

Included in this unique festival is a Cuban invasion of Havana-based legends; a Jazz explosion of twelve top groups comprising some of the biggest names in South African jazz including Jimmy Dludlu; an international “world music” focus on Cuba, Brazil, Mozambique and Namibia; Indie rock from Australia; an Indian legend celebrating the centenary of the passive resistance movement of Satyagraha; and all mixed together with some of the very best and diverse music that Durban has to offer.

PART #2: THE SPIRIT OF CUBA (See separate stories for other attractions): The rich musical heritage of Cuba and the legendary Juan de Marcos Afro Cuban All Stars from Havana are the headliners for 2006. A vital founder member of the original Buena Vista Social Club, leader Juan de Marcos takes centre stage with his dream 13 piece band comprising of four generations of Cuba’s finest musicians which pays tribute to the full diversity of Cuban music.

The All Stars were brought together by musical director de Marcos (leader of “Sierra Maestra) as a backing band for his heroes, the legendary singers from the 1950’s ‘golden age’ of Cuban music. De Marcos wanted to capture the flavour of the great Cuban big bands of the era, but not simply as an exercise in recreation. With his contemporary arrangements and his choice of musicians and repertoire combined with an all acoustic ensemble’s extraordinary power and exuberance, he succeeds in paying homage while demonstrating the vitality of the music.

The six piece horn section is made up of the best players of Havana’s celebrated Tropicana Orchestra and the section playing is awesome. In a country renowned for its percussionists, the All Star’s four piece section is matchless and includes the phenomenal Antonio ‘Pacha’ Portuondo on timbales & drums.

One of the very finest in a long line of great Cuban groups, the Afro Cuban All Stars combine a variety of styles including classic son - montuno, contemporary timba, swinging big band guajira, danzon, guaguanco, mozambique, mambo, afro-cuban jazz, bolero and the tribal rhythms of abakua. Lovers of mind blowing improvised jazz solos, high speed rhythmic interplay and ballroom dancing fanatics will be mesmerised by their live performance.

Personnel: Juan de Marcos (tres, guitar & band leader); Tirso Duarte (lead singer); William Valdés (lead singer); David Alfaro (piano & keyboards); Marcos Godoy Torres (bass); Felix Valdes Ibanez (Coros & Cuban percussion); Adel Gonzalez (congas); Antonio ‘Pacha’ Portuondo (timbales & drums); Rolando Salgado (bongo & cowbell); Tommy Lowry Garcia (trumpet & flugelhorn); Oslen Ceballo Brian (trumpet & flugelhorn); Lazaro Oviedo (trumpet & flugelhorn); Antonio Leal (trombone); Juan Carlos Marin (trombone); David Suarez (sax & clarinet) and Luis ‘Achy’ Lang (Coros, violin & Cuban percussion).




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