CONJUNTO CÉSPEDESplayed its first performance billed as Trio Céspedes on July 26, 1981 at Previews, a nightclub on Polk Street in San Francisco. The founders of the Conjunto Luis, Gladys, and Guillermo Céspedes began playing original and traditional "Son Cubano" relying on the instrumentation of guitar, small percussion and vocals. By 1982 the Conjunto had expanded to a "septeto format", and was consistently playing 4 set dance gigs three or four nights a week in clubs and cultural centers throughout the Bay Area. In 1984 CONJUNTO CÉSPEDES released its first self produced LP titled GUIRA CON SON, comprised of 8 original compositions. While the LP received limited national distribution, it helped to establish the ensemble as a legitimate force in the Latin Music scene, leading to the band's first East Coast Tour as well shared local billings with such artists as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, Ruben Blades. Following the departure of Luis Céspedes from the group in 1986, the CONJUNTO CÉSPEDES began re-defining its sound by digging deeper into the Afro Cuban secular and religious folklore while simultaneously developing more of a big band sound incorporating brass, timbales, violins, and added background vocals. The notion of incorporating the folkloric secular and religious idioms into a dance music format not only made the Conjunto's sound unique in the context of the "commercial salsa" scene, but also opened the door to playing for a wider and more diverse audience as part of the "world music movement". In 1987 CONJUNTO CÉSPEDES was chosen to participate in Bill Graham's First World Music Festival at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, followed by a West Coast Tour opening for the British Rocker Bryan Ferry.
In 1989 CONJUNTO CÉSPEDES was commissioned by the Rockerfeller
Foundation through the now defunct Redwood Records to set the poetry of the prolific Afro
Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen to music. This commission allowed the Conjunto some breathing
space from the hectic club schedule in order to focus on more musically challenging
arrangements incorporating elements of jazz, and the use of more modern harmonic
structures. By adding piano along with the traditional Cuban tres guitar and boasting a
horn section of two trumpets, two trombones, along with three percussionists, the Conjunto
had honed its sound into a fiery, big band format capable of ranging from the most
folkloric roots of Afro Cuban Music to the most contemporary.
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Bobi Céspedes Bio
Guillermo Céspedes Bio
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