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Schedule

Music

Van Van official site: vanvandeformell.com

The Jazz Photography of Tasic Dragan: Gallery 168 - Featuring Los Van Van

Llegan Los Van Van a los cines cubanos

Thousands Dance To Los Van Van In Guanajuato, Mexico, 10/23/00

Response to slanders from the LA Times


Van Van Grammy, 2/23/00

Van Van in Miami! See also vivid report on the Concert under Links

  Los Van Van

Los Van Van are one of the top groups in Cuba, consistently popular as a dance band.  Their third tour US Tour generated some excitment as the Miami Mafia tried to stop them playing there (rioting in the streets), the Oct 9th 1999 show in Miami went well with over 4,000 spectators.   Van Van picked up a Grammy on 2/23/00 for Salsa Performance: “Llego...Van Van: Van Van is Here."
    
"Under the direction of songwriter, bassist and vocalist Juan Formell, the 14-piece orchestra plays an irresistible brand of dance music which they originated, called songo— an invigorating fusion of Cuban and Caribbean rhythms, rich with a blend of traditional and contemporary Cuban sounds. Consisting of six independent sections— three vocalists, two violinists, three percussionists, three trombonists, two keyboardists and a bassist— the band is a charanga (flutes and violins), a salsa orchestra (edgy trumpets and trombones), and a premier rock band (electric bass and drums) all in one. " -- World Music Press Release

'98 US Tour press release Band in the USA (article)
Juan Formell in Granma International on "Timba", the new music from Cub Washington Post review
Links


VanVanista forever!

Crooks, torturers, pseudo-politicians, and opportunists line up against Los Van Van., 1999

Supremacists tried to cancel Miami show

On the road with Los Van Van  10/17/03 Miami Herald: "Other band members were already outside, boarding the big white bus that on Saturday would take them to Key West, where the following night, Los Van Van would give a free concert for two thousand people at a waterside bar. It would be a landmark event, the first time that a major dance band from Cuba performed in Key West in four decades, echoing pre-revolutionary times, when orchestras played the city every weekend."top

Llegan Los Van Van a los cines cubanos
Por Dora Pérez Sáez

La cinta Van Van: empezó la fiesta, de la argentina Liliana Mazure y el cubano Aarón Vega, que recrea momentos de la historia de la orquesta —la celebración de su trigésimo aniversario con un multitudinario recital en La Habana; el concierto ofrecido en Miami, con reveladoras escenas que muestran el boicot de la ultraderecha cubana; y la victoria en la edición de los Grammy del año 99— se estrenará esta noche en el cine Charles Chaplin de la capital, para después pasar al resto de las salas de estreno.

Según expresó en conferencia de prensa Aarón Vega, el documental, rodado en formato digital, "se hizo para contar un fenómeno de treinta años, que son los Van Van". El proyecto, que comenzó a rodarse el 4 de diciembre de 1999, está narrado a partir de testimonios de integrantes del grupo y entrevistas a personalidades de la cultura y el público.

Jorge Devoto, productor general, confirmó la decisiva colaboración de Juan Formell en el proyecto y sus valiosos aportes a la cinta, que fue modificada dos veces antes de su versión final. De esta manera, y en aras de una mayor frescura y naturalidad en las entrevistas, cada músico eligió el lugar donde contar su historia. "Se apostó al carisma de ellos", añadió.

Así ocurrió con Mayito Rivera, cantante de la agrupación, quien expresó a la prensa su satisfacción y la del resto de los músicos con los resultados de la obra. Mayito, protagonista indiscutible de la cinta, sorprenderá al público con sus anécdotas plagadas de humorismo y espontaneidad.

Este documental, que se ha exhibido con gran éxito en las salas de Mar del Plata, Munich y Chicago, se estrenará la semana próxima en Puerto Rico. Posteriormente se presentará en el Festival Latino de Los Ángeles y en el Lincoln Center de Nueva York; cerrará el Festival de Montreal y se mostrará en diversas ciudades europeas como Oslo, Helsinki, y Varsovia.

THOUSANDS DANCE TO LOS VAN VAN IN GUANAJUATO, MEXICO Havana, October 23 (RHC)-- The Cuban salsa group, Los Van Van performed on Sunday in the Mexican city of Guanajuato during the 28th Cervantino International Festival. With a packed outdoor concert, the Los Van Van closed the occasion moving thousands of people to dance to their popular tunes. Under the direction of composer and bass player Juan Formel, the Cuban group sang some of its greatest hits such as "Sandungera," "Temba, Tumba, Timba," "El Negro Esta Cocinando" and many more to an audience that did not stop dancing despite a light but steady rain which fell for almost one hour. Over one thousand artists from 35 countries performed in the Cervantino International Festival in Guanajuato from October 6th to the 22nd in which people were able to enjoy music, dance, theater, opera, painting, photography, and sculpture.

Grammy 2000

Van Van picked up a Grammy for Salsa Performance for their  "Llego...Van Van" ("Van Van is Here") at the 42nd annual Grammy Award.  Other latin categories include:

     Latin Pop Performance: “Tiempos,” Ruben Blades.
     Latin Rock/Alternative Performance: “Resurrection,” Chris Perez Band.
     Traditional Tropical Latin Performance: “Mambo Birdland,” Tito Puente.
     Merengue Performance: “Pintame,” Elvis Crespo.
     Mexican-American Performance: “100 Anos de Mariachi,” Placido Domingo.
     Tejano Performance: “Por Eso Te Amo,” Los Palominos.

And of course Carlos Santana walked off with 8 awards!  Carlos would like very much to go to Cuba for a visit, but the chisme is that his brother and manager are terrified that their income stream will be affected by the Miami Mafia should he do so... and they're probably right!

Musictop

Llego Van Van, 1999
LlegoVan.jpg (18823 bytes)
Won the Grammy 2000 for best Salsa!
1. Permiso Que Llego Van Van
2. Temba, Tumba, Timba
3. Eso Damelo A Mi
4. La Bomba Soy Yo
5. El Negro Esta Cocindando
6. Somos Cubanos
7. El Cheque
8. Quien No Ha Dicho Una Mentira
9. Mi Chocolate
10. Consuelate Como Yo
11. Appapas Del Calabar
12. Havana City
Toda Cuba Baila Con...
UNI/MAX MUSIC, 1998
vantodocuba.jpg (11186 bytes)
1. Que Voy Hacer Si Tu Te Vas
2. Pero Que Falta De Respeto
3. Sera Que Se Acabo
4. De 5 A 7
5. Despues Que Te Casate
6. Dauzonete
7. Artesanos Del Aspacio
8. Que Extrano Saxofon
9. Se Cambia El Turno
10. Guararey De Pastora
11. De La Habana A Matanzas
12. El Negro No Tiene Na
13. Yo Soy De La Gran Escena
14. A Ver Que Sale

   
Lo Ultimo En Vivo
Qbadisc
vanvan2.gif (17965 bytes)

 

 

Te Pone La Cabeza Mala
EMD/BLUE NOTE, 1998
vantepone.jpg (9162 bytes)
1. Esto Pone La Cabeza Mala
2. Levala A Tu Vacilon
3. Que Pasa Con Ella
4. Regresamelo Todo
5. Barriste Con El
6. Ni Bombones Ni Caramelos
7. Lo Que Dejo Sebastian
8. La Shopimaniaca
9. Elle Tiene Algo Que No Se
10. El Tren Se Va
11. Esto Te Pone La Cabeza Mala (Reprise)
The Legendary Los Van Van: Thirty Years of Cuba's Greatest Dance Band [BOX SET]
Continental Music Distribution, 12/99


Click for pricing & to order  ==> Amazon.com
Con Salsa Formell
Vintage Cuba Records, 1/00
ConSalsaFormell.jpg (14425 bytes)







Click for pricing & to order  ==> Amazon.com
The Best of Los Van Van
Emd/Blue Note, 1/00
BestofVan.jpg (8198 bytes)
1. Ya Empezo La FiestaMusic
2. Ay, Mama, RecibemeMusic
3. Que Palo Es Ese!Music
4. Que Tiene Van VanMusic
5. Un SocioMusic
6. Soy Normal, Natural
7. Se Acabo El Querer
8. Soy Todo
9. El Tren Se Va
10. Llevala A Tu Vacilon
11. Esto Te Pone La Cabeza Mala

Click here to listen to tracks and order  ==> Amazon.com

Cuban Gold: Que Se Sepa, Yo Soy De La Habana
Qbadisc
vanvan.gif (6858 bytes)

Actually, Van Van has only a few tracks on this great compendium.

Azucar
Xenophile, 1994
VanAzucar.jpg (12761 bytes)
 
1. Disco Azucar
2. Tu No Colabores Si No Es Contigo
3. Que Le Den Candela
4. Con El Destino No Se Puede
5. Ese Es Mi Problema
6. Oh No
7. Hasta Las Cuantas
8. La Historia De Tania Y Juan
9. Esperando Llamada



Band in the USAtop

Despite U.S.-generated red tape, Los
Van Van, Cuba's most popular musical
group, headlines SC's Cocoanut Grove

By Ellen Farmer

Los Van Van has recorded 16 records and is the most popular band on Cuban radio. The group is known worldwide for live shows that feature improvised call and response between musicians and dancing audiences.

Band leader Juan Formell even created Los Van Van's signature songo style, which opens the traditional Afro-Cuban rhythmic dance son to improvisation.

"The relationship between the improvisers on the dance floor and those on the bandstand guarantees that the music holds to especially high standards," says the New York Times' Peter Watrous. "Los Van Van mixes the sound of the violin and
trombones with the standard modern Afro-Cuban rhythm section. Improvisations by the lead singers drift in and out between the sharp attack of riffs." 

For the rest of the article, consult: http://metroactive.com/papers/cruz/06.19.97/los-van-van-9725.html

 

JUAN FORMELL Y LOS VAN VAN: "Te Pone La Cabeza Mala"
By Geoffrey Himes
Washington Post, Friday, June 26, 1998; Page N17

Salsa is usually thought of as a musical invention of Puerto Rico and New York, but it is actually based on Cuban son music. The recipe begins with the hypnotic, 3/2 clave beat and adds polyrhythmic variations, improvising horns and call-and-response vocals. No one does it better than Los Van Van, but the U.S. embargo on Cuba kept Havana's No. 1 dance band from American salsa fans during its peak in the '70s and '80s. The recent thaw between the countries has allowed Los Van Van to release records here in 1994 and to tour here in 1996.

Los Van Van's latest release is "Te Pone La Cabeza Mala," credited to Juan Formell y Los Van Van. Formell -- the group's bassist, singer, songwriter and arranger -- founded Los Van Van with pianist Cesar Pedroso in 1969. They had the inspired idea of combining the flutes and violins of the upper-class charanga music with the horns and congas of the working-class songo music.

For the rest of the article, visit the Washington Post's Cuba site.  The link's been broken, but the article may still be around.


Schedule 2012top

Thu 1 Mar London, UK 

Fri 2 Mar Leeds, UK 

Sat 3 Mar Paradiso Grote Zaal Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Mon 5 Mar La Cigale Paris, France 

Sat 10 Mar Copenhagen, Denmark 

2007

July 21 - Vence, France - Festival des Nuits du Sud

July 22 - La Seyne Sur Mer, France - Festival Cubain Bayamo

July 28 - Turin, Italy

July 29 - Milan, Italy - Latinoamericando

August 3 - Séte, France - Théatre de la Mer, Fiest'a Sete

August 4 - Alicante, Spain

August 5 - Rome, Italy, Fiesta

August 6 - Bastia, France

 

www.vanvanintoronto.com

Los Van Van, the biggest name in the history of Cuban dance bands, come to Toronto for one night only on Saturday December 9th at Kool Haus (in the Guvernment) 132 Queen Quay East, Doors open at 8pm. Tickets will be $40.00 in advance $50.00 at the door.

The whole orchestra (16 pieces) is coming including Juan Formell himself. This will be the ultimate dance party with a big sound sytem and lots of room on the floor.

 

8/25 Sydney, Australia Enmore Theatre 
www.enmoretheatre.com.au
8/26 Adelaide Australia  Viva Function Center
8/27 Melbourne, Australia Victorian Arts Centre
www.theartscentre.net.au

 

2005

SEPTIEMBRE
Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en C.Habana (Cuba)
Fecha: 17 Septiembre/2005
Lugar: Habana Café *Hotel Melia Cohiba*
Hora: 11:00 pm

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en C.Habana (Cuba)
Fecha: 23 Septiembre/2005
Lugar: Habana Café *Hotel Melia Cohiba*
Hora: 11:00 pm

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en C.Habana (Cuba)
Fecha: 25 Septiembre/2005
Lugar: Parque Lenin

May 14

Havana, Cuba

Casa de la Música - Galiano

May 15

Havana, Cuba

Karl MarxTheater, Tribute to Juan Formell and the 35th Anniversary of Los Van Van

May 21

Havana, Cuba

Casa de la Música - Galiano

May 27

Havana, Cuba

Casa de la Música - Galiano

June 4

Havana, Cuba

Casa de la Música - Galiano

June 10

Havana, Cuba

Casa de la Música - Galiano

June 11

Havana, Cuba

Habana Café - Hotel Melia Cohiba

June 23

Barcelona, Spain

Parc Dels Auditoris de Fórum de Barcelona

July 21

Pori, Finland

Pori Jazz Festival

July 22

Pori, Finland

Pori Jazz Festival

August 10

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Studio Coast

August 11

Sapporo

Jazz Mark Plaza

August 12

Nagoya

Bottom Line

August 13

Osaka

Hatch

August 14

Sendai

 

August 16

Kanazawa

 

August 19

Hiroshima

 

August 20-21

Fukuoka

Caribbean Festival "La Isla de la Salsa"

MARZO
Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en MALAGA España
Fecha: 13 Marzo/05
Lugar: - sala " Boga Boga"

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en BILBAO España
Fecha: 14 Marzo/05
Lugar: sala " Santana27"

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en PARIS (Francia)
Fecha: 16 Marzo/05
Lugar: Cabaret Sauvage

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en BORDEAUX "Francia"
Fecha: 17 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA NAUTILUS

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en TARBES Francia
Fecha: 18 Marzo/05
Lugar: SALLE MERCANDIEUE

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en Francia
Fecha: 19 Marzo/05
Lugar: BIARRITZ

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en MILANO (Italia)
Fecha: 21 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA LA RUMBA , ACUATICA www.islamusical.it

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en PASTRENGO VERONA (Italia)
Fecha: 22 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA AZUCAR

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en RIVA DI PINEROLO, TORINO (Italia)
Fecha: 23 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA SANTIAGO

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en BASEL, (Switzerland)
Fecha: 24 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA X-MOTION

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en ANTELLA, FIRENZE (Italia)
Fecha: 25 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA ANTELLA DANCING

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en FRANKFURT (Alemania)
Fecha: 26 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA CHANGO LATIN PALACE

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en FRANKFURT "Alemania"
Fecha: 27 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA CHANGO LATIN PALACE

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en MONTAGNANA(PD), (Italia)
Fecha: 28 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA PARIOLI DANCING

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en ACIREALE, (Italia)
Fecha: 29 Marzo/05
Lugar: PALAZZETTO DELLO SPORT

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en MODENA (Italia)
Fecha: 31 Marzo/05
Lugar: DISCOTECA KIWI

ABRIL
Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en LONDRES (Inglaterra)
Fecha: 01 Abril/05
Lugar: THE CORONET

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en Copenhagen Dinamarca
Fecha: 02 Abril/05
Lugar: Sala Conciertos VEGA

Concierto en Vivo Juan Formell y los Van Van en Alemania
Fecha: 04 Abril/05
Lugar: BERLIN

2004

See www.vanvandeformell.com for updates.

June 12

Lyon, France

Festival à l'Île Barbe

 

June 18

Rome, Italy

Fiesta 2004

Ippodromo delle Capannelle, Via Appia Nuova, 1245

June 19

Disney Village, France

Festival Latina

 

June 22

Milan, Italy

   

June 24

Naples, Italy

CARAIBI - Casa De la Musica

http://www.salsamania.it/

June 26

Pamplona, Spain

   

July 1

La Ciotat, France

 "Théâtre de Verdure" Jardins de la Vil

http://www.planetecaraibe.com/intro.htm

July 3

Reims, France

Les Flâneries Musicales d'été de Reims, La Comédie

http://www.salsaloca.fr.st/

July 6

Venice, Italy

   

July 7

Florence, Italy

   

July 9

Ancone, Italy

   

July 10

Lugano, Switzerland

   

July 11

Rome, Italy

Fiesta 2004

Ippodromo delle Capannelle, Via Appia Nuova, 1245

July 16

Zurich, Switzerland

Schutzenhaus Albisgutli

http://www.latinpalace.ch

July 23

Paris, France

 

http://www.salsaloca.fr.st/

Aug 11 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl  Visa denied! Date cancelled.

2003

06/20/03

San Juan, PR

Hilton Caribe Hotel

06/21/03

New York, NY

Carnegie Hall

06/22/03

Vienna, VA

Wolf Trap Filene Ctr.

06/24/03

Atlanta, GA

Variety Playhouse

06/25/03

Chicago, IL

House Of Blues

06/27/03

Los Angeles, CA

Mayan Theatre

06/28/03

Solana Beach, CA

Belly Up Tavern

06/29/03

San Francisco, CA

Bimbo's 365 Club

2002

11/07/02

Los Angeles, CA

Mayan Theatre

11/08/02

San Francisco, CA

Regency Center Ballroom

11/09/02

San Francisco, CA

Regency Center Ballroom

06/29/02  Brussels, Belgium  Couleur Cafe Festival 

2001

DATE LOCATION VENUE
 July 
24-27 Malaga, Spain  
28 Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain  
29 Vigo, Spain  
31 Sicilia, Italy  
August 
1 Zafferana Etnea, Italy  
2 Roma, Italy  
3 London, England Royal Albert Hall
4 Manchester, England  
6 Luzern, Switzerland  
8 Riccione, Italy  
9 S. Benedetto, Italy  
10 Oslo, Norway  
11 Stockholm, Sweden  
12 Hoogstraten, Belgium Carribean Festival

Past listings

6/07/01  Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern 
6/09/01 Santa Cruz, CA Palookaville 

2000

Date City Venue
06/09/00 Boston, MA The Roxy
06/10/00 Union City, NJ Estudio 45
06/11/00 New York, NY World Trade Center
06/14/00 Indianapolis, IN Indy Jazz Fest
06/15/00 Chicago, IL House Of Blues
06/16/00 West Hollywood, CA Conga Room
06/17/00 Los Angeles, CA Playboy Jazz Festival
06/18/00 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
07/22/00 Pori, Finland Pori Jazz Festival
07/23/00 Pori, Finland Pori Jazz Festival


to July '00 (updated 3/14)

Date City State Venue
04/28/00 Santa Cruz CA Palookaville
04/29/00 San Francisco CA Bill Graham Civic Aud.
05/03/00 Austin TX La Zona Rosa
05/05/00 New Orleans LA House Of Blues
05/06/00 New Orleans LA Fairgrounds Racetrack
(New Orleans Jazz Festival)
05/13/00 St. Lucia ISL St. Lucia Jazz Festival
06/11/00 New York NY World Trade Center
06/14/00 Indianapolis IN Indy Jazz Fest
06/15/00 Chicago IL House Of Blues
06/17/00 Los Angeles CA Playboy Jazz Festival
07/22/00 Pori FIN Pori Jazz Festival
07/23/00 Pori FIN Pori Jazz Festival

1999 Schedule  (updated 10/3/99)

Contact venues for tickets, times.

Date

City

State

Venue

09/03/99 Denver CO Fillmore Auditorium
09/04/99 Aspen CO Jazz Aspen
09/06/99 Seattle WA Bumbershoot Festival
09/07/99 Portland OR Crystal Ballroom
09/09/99 Sacramento CA Harlow's
09/11/99 Universal City CA Universal Amphitheatre
09/12/99 San Diego CA San Diego Street Scene
09/15/99 San Francisco CA Masonic Auditorium
09/16/99 Saratoga CA Historic Mountain Winery
09/17/99 Monterey CA Monterey Jazz Festival
09/18/99 Santa Cruz CA Palookaville
09/19/99 Las Vegas NV House Of Blues
09/21/99 Lawrence KS Liberty Hall
09/22/99 Minneapolis MN First Avenue
09/23/99 Chicago IL House Of Blues
09/24/99 Columbus OH Southern Theatre
09/25/99 Bloomington IN Dunn Meadow
09/28/99 Toronto ON Guvernment
09/29/99 Montreal QC Le Spectrum
09/30/99 Burlington VT Flynn Theatre
10/01/99 New York NY Grand
10/02/99 Philadelphia PA Theatre Of Living Arts
10/03/99 Boston MA Roxy

10/05/99

Alexandria VA Birchmere
10/06/99 Atlanta GA Variety Playhouse
10/07/99 Lake Buena Vista FL House Of Blues
10/09/99 Miami FL Miami Arena
10/15/99 San Juan PR Cuartel de Ballaha
05/13/00 St. Lucia ISL St. Lucia Jazz Festival

As of 7/6/99

Date

City

State

Location

09/03/99

Denver

CO

Fillmore Auditorium

09/05/99

Seattle

WA

Bumbershoot Festival

09/11/99

Universal City

CA

Universal Amphitheatre

09/12/99?

San Diego

CA

San Diego Street Scene

09/12/99?

Capitola

CA

The Capitola Wine & Art Festival

09/15/99

San Francisco

CA

Masonic Auditorium

09/16/99

Saratoga

CA

Historic Mountain Winery

09/17/99

Monterey

CA

Monterey Jazz Festival

09/18/99

Santa Cruz

CA

Palookaville

09/21/99

Lawrence

KS

Liberty Hall by Dr. Rumba Productions
drrumba@sunflower.com

09/23/99

Chicago

IL

House Of Blues

09/30/99

Burlington

VT

Flynn Theatre

10/03/99

Boston

MA

Roxy


End of Schedule - June 1998: USA

June 26 New York City, NY: Hammerstein Ballroom 212 496-9000
June 27 Vienna, VA: Wolftrap 703 255-1950
June 28 Sartatoga Springs, NY: Saratoga Performing Arts Center 518 584-9330
June 29 Philadelphia, PA: Katmandu 215 629-7400
June 30 Boston, MA: Roxy 617 338-7699

 

Press Release: '98 US Tourtop

"The best dance band in Cuba!" New York Times

"The undisputed king of Cuban dance orchestras and
one of the most influential forces ever in Afro-Cuban music" Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, June 30, The Roxy

Pre-Concert Symposium at 7:30pm & Performance at 8:30pm

Boston, MA--World Music presents the Boston debut of Los Van Van, Cuba’s legendary dance band, on Tuesday, June 30, at the Roxy, 279 Tremont Street, Boston. The evening will begin at 7:30pm with a pre-concert symposium featuring bandleader Juan Formell and member’s of Los Van Van. The performance will begin at 8:30pm. Tickets include both the symposium and performance, and are $25 in advance and $30 the day of show. Both the performance and pre-concert symposium are general admission, and attendees must be age 21 or older. Cuban cuisine catered by Mucho Gusto Cafe will be available for purchase. Tickets are available in advance at all TicketMaster Outlets. To charge tickets by phone call World Music (617) 876-4275 or TicketMaster (617) 931-2000. For information call World Music (617) 876-4275.

Universally considered to be Cuba’s finest dance band, Los Van Van at last makes its Boston debut. Under the direction of songwriter, bassist and vocalist Juan Formell, the 14-piece orchestra plays an irresistible brand of dance music which they originated, called songo— an invigorating fusion of Cuban and Caribbean rhythms, rich with a blend of traditional and contemporary Cuban sounds. Consisting of six independent sections— three vocalists, two violinists, three percussionists, three trombonists, two keyboardists and a bassist— the band is a charanga (flutes and violins), a salsa orchestra (edgy trumpets and trombones), and a premier rock band (electric bass and drums) all in one.

Juan Formell was born in 1942 in Havana’s Pueblo Neuvo district. As a youth, he studied guitar and bass, learning harmony and orchestration from his father while soaking up everyone from Elvis Presley and the Beatles to Orquesta Aragon and the legendary Cuban singer Bey More. For a time, he played with Orquesta Revé, a well-known charanga band in Cuba, but he was already focused on creating original sounds and innovating within the traditions of Cuban music. By mid-1969, he started out on his own to create a new Cuban orchestra.

Since its inception, Los Van Van’s primary objective has been to make people dance. The band began as a traditional charanga, with flutes and violins as its principal melodic instruments, but Formell began experimenting and introduced electric guitar and trap drums to the standard configuration. Later, he also added trombones to further charge up the delicate music. Formell’s constant search and experimentation led to the discovery of new rhythms, and a new fusion of son’s Afro-Cuban drumming with pop elements. The group’s newly created groove, called songo, became the rage of Havana and one of the most influential Cuban rhythms since the cha-cha. Today, with prolific composer and pianist César "Pupi" Pedroso and a dynamic front line of vocalists including Pedro Calvo, the band is a fearsome collection of virtuoso players. Los Van Van is now considered the best Cuba has to offer.

Los Van Van has produced 23 recordings, played all over the world and influenced the evolution of contemporary salsa. The band’s most recent album Juan Formell y Los Van Van Te Pone La Cabeza Mala! ("Juan Formell and Los Van Van Messes Up Your Head") was released in 1997 on Caribe Productions, Inc. under exclusive license to EMI and distributed in the United States by Metro Blue Records, a division of Capitol Records.

The symposium is sponsored by the Northern California Chapter of the Berklee College of Music Alumni Association.

World Music is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

www.worldmusic.org

Juan Formell Speaks In Granma International about
the "Timba", the new music from Cubatop

Posted on Sun, 12 Apr 1998 by Curtis Lanoue in the Newsgroup rec.music.afro-latin.

From practice to theory

BY MIREYA CASTAÑEDA (Granma International staff writer)

"NOWADAYS in Cuba we play music differently, and nobody knows what to call it. People dance differently and there's no name for it, so we're calling it timba." That's what the songwriter and leader of the band Los Van Van, Juan Formell, explained during the presentation of their new CD, Te pone la cabeza mala (It Makes Your Head Spin), upon which musician Edmundo Pina comments on this same page.

Formell's exchange with the press covered various subjects on people's minds today, some of them controversial, causing the atmosphere of the meeting room to heat up at times.

It was interesting to hear Formell attempting to theorize about this new sound he has dubbed timba, which he says lies halfway between the traditional Cuban son and salsa.

Formell began this explanation by expressing his opinion that there is strong musical competition in Cuba these days, and that this is "one of the best moments in the history of popular music." Actually, Formell is speaking about dance music, since Cuban popular music is really a much wider category, as many musicians have pointed out.

According to Formell, a legend in the field of dance music, this boom can be traced back to the first changes introduced by Elio Revé, which were followed by stronger modifications put into effect by his own band, Los Van Van, and of course Chucho Valdés with Irakere. "Later on there was Adalberto Álvarez, who made important changes in the sound; and José Luis Cortés, who assimilated what he had learned as a member of Irakere and Los Van Van, and in his own group, NG La Banda he created a structure which the younger musicians also adopted.

"Timba is the sound being heard on the island," Formell went on, "and it's hard to explain in theory, but the changes we have made are based on the dancers, who for the last five years have been moving differently.

"Each musical genre, and Cuba has 20 or 30, has a dance. To my mind, the interesting thing are precisely the dancers. They're making it clear that there's something new in our music."

He stated that the dancers are the ones who motivate the musician to make changes, the ones who give the clues about what should be done. And Formell must know what he's talking about, because his band has been at the top of the charts for almost 30 years now.

He insists that Cubans are dancing differently now, and that he is promoting the use of the term "timba" because of the new circumstances. "There was a moment when we had to accept the word `salsa' because of the international situation. At that time we were on the defensive, but now we're on the offensive and we can say, `No, that's not what we do. We're somewhere between traditional son and salsa.'"

Is the use of this new term strategic? "We dance and play differently and we didn't have a name for it," he responds, "and yes, by combining our artistic criteria we're going to enter the market. It's a new initiative and it needs a new name, timba, a musical name like rumba or conga."

Mario Rivera, one of the band's singers and considered among the best in his genre, added that this term has actually been used for several years by students in the arts schools. He feels that it is a well-defined musical concept and also a musical attitude.

Formell emphasized his opinion that Cuban musicians (again, this refers to dance bands) have the right to take a new initiative and not just continue with what was done in the '50s.

This is certainly a point of contention with other musicians, maestros of the son and even members of his own generation, who had success by concentrating on the traditional son, some of them with new arrangements and mixing. One example is the group which recently won a Grammy with its CD Buenavista Social Club.

The fact is that in the world of music there is plenty of space and many different tastes. This has been confirmed by the previously mentioned award and by another Grammy in the Latin jazz category, won by the Crisol group, headed by U.S. trumpeter Roy Hargrove and including compositions and arrangements by Chucho Valdés.

Reaffirming his opinion, Formell organized a concert called We're What's Happening, with members of his band and others (but not all) which are the most popular among Cuban dancers: Paulito FG y Su Élite, Adalberto Álvarez y Su Son, Issac Delgado, El Médico de la Salsa, NG La Banda and Charanga Habanera.

In response to the contention that "they almost all sound the same," Formell stated that although they share the same sound and criteria in the general sense, each group has its own personality.

He feels that his new CD is well-balanced in terms of its arrangements and lyrics, and he noted that it has already been launched in Spain but could not be properly presented in the United States because it had been pirated first.

Given the fact that in Cuba there are still very few p'eople with CD players (which are sold only in dollars), some journalists asked how they expect the new CD to reach the dancers whom Formell had credited for the relevance of his work. After a lively interchange of comments, it was announced that the Caribe Productions label would soon sell audio cassettes of the recording in Cuban pesos.

Los Van Van has a very busy international schedule for the rest of this year: Brazil, Panama and Argentina (April), Uruguay and France (May), United States (June) and Europe (July-August). Formell also announced, without revealing specific dates, that the all-star group would put on concerts in Madrid, Barcelona, the Canary Islands, Paris, London and Rome.

Los Van Van in Miami, 10/9/99top

Here is a chronological sequence of articles and press releases covering the Miami appearance of Los Van Van and the attendant misbehavior of Cuban Americans (aka the Miami Mafia) who threw brick and spat at concert goers.  See also Alberto Jones' Crooks and opportunists line up against Van Van." for a discussion of the politics behind this event from an AfroCuban point of view.

1) Miami (Theirami) show cancelled by the supremacists [well, at least they tried to...]
2) VICTORY IN MIAMI: ACLU, TREASURY DEPARTMENT SUPPORT LOS VAN VAN’S RIGHT TO PERFORM IN MIAMI
3) The band plays on as protest fails to deter Van Van's fans
4) Further coverage of Miami riot on CNN

And why is it that the protestors seem all white and the band is largely black?

Miami (Theirami) show cancelled by the supremacists [well, at least they tried to...]top

The supremacists who lead the Miami exilio tried to force a cancellation of the show that was to be held Oct 9 at the end of their tour [note: they lost and the show is being held Oct 11th (or is it the 9th?)].  Memo to the leadership of exilio: the African music of Cuba belongs to all of us and is not yours to direct as you please.

 Published Saturday, September 11, 1999, in the Miami Herald
[see www.herald.com/herald/content/sun/news/digdocs/fladocs/091307.htm for the full story]

Concert canceled for Cuban dance band
By TYLER BRIDGES
Herald Staff Writer

The long shadow of Castro's Cuba reared its head once again in South Florida affairs when a concert scheduled for Los Van Van, a popular dance band from Cuba, was canceled Friday night.

Globe Facility Services, the private company that runs the Miami concert hall where the band was to perform Oct. 9, acted after complaints by Miami elected officials. Miami Mayor Joe Carollo and city commissioners have been hearing a barrage of objections from constituents since the concert date was announced Wednesday.

``I am so relieved,'' City Commissioner Joe Sanchez said Friday night after hearing news of the cancellation. ``The city does not need any more controversy.''

Yet the decision to cancel the concert is likely to do just that.

``This will cause a lot of controversy,'' said Maria Zenoz, president of the band's New York label, Havana Caliente. ``We won't sit still and take it.''

Zenoz said her company and the American Civil Liberties Union plan to go to court Monday to reschedule the concert.

``There's no Miami exception to the First Amendment,'' said John de Leon, an attorney who heads the group's Miami office.

Friday night's events seem certain to generate widespread publicity, as have other instances when Cuban exile politics have influenced other events, such as keeping Miami-Dade from hosting a future Pan-American Games, or prompting the MIDEM Americas music event to cancel a party at Vizcaya last year because Cuban musicians were playing.

Debbie Ohanian, the Miami Beach promoter putting on the Los Van Van concert, said she was surprised by Friday night's decision because she had complied with all of the city's requirements for the concert. Among them: extra insurance; metal detectors at the entrances of the concert hall, the James L. Knight Center; a marine patrol on the Miami River; and dozens of police officers to provide security. Ohanian said those extra requirements pushed up the tickets prices to between $40 and $60 per person.

Band optimistic

Los Van Van, fearing potential protests from the Cuban exile community, had never played in Miami during previous tours of the United States. But band leaders thought the temperature had cooled enough to schedule the Oct. 9 Knight Center show at the end of a five-week, 26-date tour.

``I think that things have changed and that there are a lot of people here now who are ready to hear music,'' band leader Juan Formell, told The Herald last week.

He apparently was too optimistic. Cuban radio stations -- led by La Poderosa (670 AM) and Radio Mambi (710 AM) -- went into overdrive, urging listeners to flood City Hall with phone calls. City Commissioner Tomas Regalado and Carollo fanned the anger with appearances on La Poderosa.

``It's touching a chord because this is not a cultural event,'' Regalado said. ``It's a challenge to the capital of the exile community. It's a political challenge.''

Added Carollo: ``This is the official Communist band of Fidel Castro.'' Band associates scoff at that notion, saying the band cares only about playing music.

for the rest of this sordid tale, consult
http://www.herald.com/content/today/docs/028907.htm

Van Van: VICTORY IN MIAMI!top

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 22, 1999

VICTORY IN MIAMI: ACLU, TREASURY DEPARTMENT SUPPORT LOS VAN VAN’S RIGHT TO PERFORM IN MIAMI

September 21, 1999, New York — Thirty years in the making, it appears as though Cuba’s greatest dance band Los Van Van will finally be able to make their historic Miami debut.

The City of Miami abruptly cancelled the band’s October 9th date at the James L. Knight Center—a venue they own—after complaints from antiCastro Cuban exiles and the city’s Cuban-American mayor Joe Carollo. Carollo referred to Los Van Van as "the official Communist band of Fidel Castro".

The performance is now rescheduled for October 9th at the Miami Arena.

This news comes after a week in which seemingly antiquated Cold War tensions flared again. Shortly after canceling Los Van Van’s show, the Knight Center opted in favor of hosting an anti-Castro sponsored event put on by veterans of the Bay of Pigs. Debbie Ohanian, the Los Van Van show’s promoter, faced a cancellation at her venue due in part to her association with Los Van Van. The politics of Cuban exiles have influenced local events before, including the prevention of a Pan-American Games in the county and the cancellation of a MIDEM Americas music industry party last year because Cuban musicians were to have played. It took the American Civil Liberties Union and the band’s label Havana Caliente to threaten legal action before the City of Miami finally relented.

On September 22, 1999, the Treasury Department concluded that "there are no payments being made to Cuba and the persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are paying only the travel, living and maintenance expenses of the members of Los Van Van in conjunction with their visit to the United States, as provided in the letter of invitation. Such transactions are authorized by the general license set forth in § 515.571 and no specific license is therefore required."

"I guess it’s politics," said Ohanian. "Somebody doesn’t think Cuban bands should be performing in Miami. I respect those who don’t want this band to play here, but they also have to respect the people who want to see the show. Miami is a part of the U.S and we should not be denied the right to hear this music."

Havana Caliente label president Maria Zenoz said, "I’m elated by the outcome. Los Van Van have every right to bring their music to the world including Miami, and the show should go on."

[Note: protests are expected in Miami, where in 1996 an anti-Castro mob attacked concert-goers outside a performance by Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.  The supremacists spat on the concert goers, calling them pimps and whores. But there were only 500 in the audience -- let them try that with a street wise audience of 1,000 or more. Perhaps some of the many abakwa brethren in Miami can help out...]

The band plays on as protest fails to deter Van Van's fanstop

BY MANNY GARCIA, JORDAN LEVIN AND PETER WHORISKEY, Miami Herald

The Cuban dance band Los Van Van played Miami Arena on Saturday night, but not without inciting a vast show of anger by protesters, who greeted concert goers by spitting at them, yelling obscenities and throwing eggs, rocks and bottles.

By night's end nearly 50 Miami police officers had donned riot gear. One journalist had been knocked unconscious by a rock, and five people had been arrested, one charged with battery on a police officer. Three of them had been detained after trying to storm the arena while waving Cuban flags.

Police bearing shields and riot helmets escorted one group of concert-goers to the Metrorail station nearby.

``Things have gotten a little disruptive,'' Angel Calzadilla, spokesman for Miami Police, said. ``We had a larger crowd than we anticipated. Our big concern is that rocks don't discriminate.''

The show of police force angered demonstrators and their supporters. ``Look at what the national media is going to see,'' said City Commissioner Tomas Regalado. ``Miami and all these police officers. Another black eye for Miami.''

Police Maj. Adam Burden estimated the number of demonstrators at between 3,500 and 4,000. The demonstrators associate Los Van Van, one of the island's most popular and enduring pop groups, with the Castro regime.

FESTIVE DEFIANCE

Inside the arena, a crowd of about 2,000, relatively sparse within the cavernous pro basketball arena, evinced an air of festive defiance. All had braved the rumor of trouble that had surrounded the concert since its announcement five weeks ago.

``To us, you represent millions of people,'' band leader Juan Formell told dancing, screaming fans after the first song, Comenzó La Fiesta (The Party Has Started.) ``There are more of you who love us than don't love us.''

Miami police had clearly anticipated trouble. In the late afternoon, as the first demonstrators began assembling, police could be seen throughout the neighborhood: on the street, on the roof of the arena and the roof of the Arena Towers next door, and on horseback. Some set up barricades. Others closed roads. Dogs sniffed for bombs.

....[for the rest of this article, see www.herald.com]

IMPROMPTU SET

``Everyone has a right to protest -- but I think that if they came inside and heard our music, they'd be dancing.''

In the middle of the press conference, as if to prove the point, the band members broke into an a cappella version of their popular dance song Sandunguera.  Roughly translated:

Sandunguera, if you're really going to get it, you've got to move like this.

``We sang this song because it's the best for dancing,'' singer Mario ``Mayito'' Rivera said.

Regardless, the arrival of the first concert-goers, about 6 p.m., quickly escalated tensions.

One man wearing a Van Van T-shirt walked to the entrance of the arena and shook his left fist at the crowd and said: ``Viva Los Van Van!''

MUTUAL SCORN

The crowd of exiles started screaming: ``Die, you communist pig! Die, you son of a bitch!''

At 6:05 p.m., a woman in a miniskirt and black high heels walked half-way up the arena steps, then stopped, waved her ticket and stuck out her tongue at the crowd. She then ascended to the arena's front door, let the breeze lift her skirt, and shook her white lace panties at enraged onlookers.

``Jinetera!'' the crowd yelled.

Soon, the crowd had begun to throw rocks, bottles and eggs at concert-goers. About 24 officers in riot gear appeared outside the arena.

At least some decided that the music was not worth the danger.

``It made us very uncomfortable, the atmosphere,'' said one man who, accompanied by his girlfriend, decided to turn around after seeing the crowd. He identified himself only as Davey from Plantation. ``They were $50 tickets. I was very interested in seeing them. But I ate two $50 tickets.''

Others pressed on, despite the trouble, if only to prove a point.

As Mario Garcia arrived, the crowd yelled: ``Communist, male prostitute, gigolo and whore.''

He shrugged.

``I am not bothered by this because I have as much right to listen to Los Van Van as they have to demonstrate. We are not communist. We are not traitors. We are music lovers.''

Once the band took the stage about 8:30 p.m., fans danced, adrenaline pumped by the conflict and the music.

`WONDERFUL MUSIC'

``It's absolutely beautiful music,'' said Joseph Adler, artistic director of GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel. ``It was wonderful, wonderful music.''

As Adler and his companion were leaving about 9:50 p.m., the crowd was yelling ``Communist! Asassin!''

``I don't like Castro any more than they do, but I love great music and I hope with the open exchange like this it will lead to Castro's downfall, much like it happened in Eastern Europe.''

As Adler left the arena, he ran into Miami Commissioner Regalado.

Adler shook his hand and said ``Open exchanges like this are important.''

Regalado replied, ``It's a one-way street. In Cuba you don't see our performers like Chirino and Gloria being able to play over there.''

As Adler and Regalado talked, protesters were yelling: ``Asassin! Communist!''

Alder and a friend then were pelted with rocks and eggs. They left under heavy police escort.

There were several other well-known concert-goers, among them Manolin ``El Medico de La Salsa.'' He said the entire spectacle -- inside and outside Miami Arena -- was part of the American experience.

``I wish there was this type of freedom in my country [referring to Cuba]. There is freedom here because people can say what they feel. Look at the demonstrators -- look how beautiful it is.''

And then he waved his hands to the crowd of concert-goers.

``Look how beautiful they are. They are going to listen to beautiful Cuban music. This is the way it should be. Respect each other. I understand the exiles' pain. They have suffered a lot and they have a right to be here. But this is also America and the Van Van can play here.''

[see www.herald.com for the rest of this article.]

Further coverage of Miami riot on CNN

http://cnn.com/US/9910/09/cuban.band.ap/index.html

Response to Van Van slanders from the LA Times, 2/26top

There was so much shit in there that it would take time to answer. The L.A. times did print lots of letters in response to her other outrageous article, the one on Music Bridges, so maybe it is worth a response. Emiliano died of a heart attack, right after finishing his last album..

[NOTE: the Alicia article said he had DIED OF STARVATION!! NO ONE HAS DIED OF STARVATION IN CUBA SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION! - Karen Wald]

With his jazz group he travelled all over or at least to the Montreal Jazz festival and he was a member of Pablo Milanéses band for years after Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC.

Pablo Menendez, Mezcla
2/26/00

VanVanista, forever!, 5/5/00top

No se que tienen Los Van Van que me tienen asi, acelerada y arrebatada.
I don’t know what Los Van Van have that leaves me like this….

by Maritza Giberga

I attended a Los Van Van concert last week at Palookaville Santa Cruz and I’m still affected by their energy and joy. I’m still dancing, walking down the street, find myself smiling, remembering Pedrito Calvo singing " El Negro Esta Cocinando" with his chef’s hat and apron , bringing the house down with his "humor criollo" and elegance. " ¿Que tendra ese negro? Hmmmm?

Los Van Van opened the concert with " Permiso Que Llegó Van Van", a song from their Grammy winner album. Mario"Mayito" Rivera’s clear voice invoked los santos, (Afro Cuban Deities) and asked permission to enter again into our hearts. Permission was granted and we were showered with "Ashé".

This outstanding performance by Cuba’s popular dance band moved the audience to a dancing frenzy. Credit deserves to be given to the accomplished musicians of the band; Juan Formell, bassist, composer and leader,Cesar Pedroso, Boris Luna, Hugo Morejon, Edmundo Pina and the others. Enough has been written about their musical talents. Their personalities and personal style also contribute to the spiritual and sensual experience of their live performances. I found them to be, "graciosos, genuinos y carinosos . Cesar Pedroso, pianist and composer, invited me backstage. My sob story of being an enajenada cubana in California seemed to touch him. Spoke to Juan Formell, Mayito, Pedrito, my heartthrob, Alvaro with his beautiful smile, and Pedro Cesar Fajardo. They patiently posed for pictures, joking about my camera not working to my many coños. I didn’t want my picture taken with them as I looked like a "pollo mojado" from dancing all night. Gracias Van Van for bringing me a little piece of Cuba to California.

Vanvanista, Forever!!!

Links/Enlacestop

www.vanvandeformell.com

Sals@lemania
http://members.aol.com/salsAleman/teamcuba.htm

Salsa (a Cuban electronic magazine, Juan Formell is head of the board of editorial advisors)
http://www2.cuba.cu/cultura/revistas/salsa

AMG on Van Van
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/x.dll?p=amg&sql=B45267

Concert report from the Sexton of the Miami City Cemetery
http://rainforest.peopleweb.com/cubangovernment/
A vivid description of what it was like at the Miami concert and of the failure of government in Miami


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