Out of all the artists I have interviewed, Alex Cuba is the only one whose hair is bigger than mine (‘Fro contest!!!). He also told me – off the record – that he was once scheduled to be on a bill with Esperanza Spalding and ?uestlove. What a show that would have been. it never happened. What did happen though was Cuba performing at the Vancouver Jazz Fest with his good friend Michael Kaeshammer. Shockingly, this was their how together; they have been friends since 1999, ever since Alex moved to Canada – Victoria to be specific.
Cuba may be somewhat of an odd choice to appear at a Jazz Festival. Then again, jazz is such a diverse style of music, and Cuba’s style very eclectic, that it is not so big of a stretch. Cuba first gained fame in the band he started with his brother – patly called the Puentes brothers – before moving to solo career. His diverse songs incorporate the vast megaforce that is Cuban music. Whether its guitar, drums, or a variety of Caribbean instruments, there is something everybody can enjoy.
Cuba’s latest album is “Static in the System”, released in the summer of 2012. What makes this project interesting is that he did both English and Spanish versions. One song is essentially a duet with Canadian songstress and wannabe hip-sop/popstar Nelly Furtado. I don’t normally listen to Furtado, yet her voice compliments Cuba’s nicely. Plus, there is just enough of her to make listening to her bareable. The song – Nadie Como Tu – like the rest of the album is in Spanish and thus I am not entirely sure what it is about. From what little Spanish I know, the title sounds like a love song. Yet is it not your typical, sappy, melodramatic fluff, it is rather an adventure through musical sounds and the Latin soul.
Being from Cuba, politics has always surrounded Cuba. (His father-in-law is a BC politician). Yet, Cuba for the most part avoids the politics and policies of his home country, only touching on them when they involve the history and lineage of Cuban music. If you are a fan of world music, ska, reggae, latin pop, latin jazz, and pretty much anything Caribbean, then Alex Cuba is for you. A great mesh of music, history, and culture…. And hair.
RIYL: Manu Chao, Esperanza Spalding, The Puentes Brothers