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Juan de Marcos Gonzalez Of The Afro-Cuban All Stars

The Afro-Cuban All Stars bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez  joins us. We’ll get the latest hot sounds out of Havana.

Juan de Marcos Gonzalez

Juan de Marcos Gonzalez

Afro-Cuban All Stars bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez grew up in Havana sneaking rock and roll off American radio broadcasts out of Key West, Florida.  But as a grown man, he went old school Cuban in a giant way.

Brought back the old sound, and the great old Cuban musicians, with the Buena Vista Social Club.  Got the whole world grooving old school Cuban again.  He’s touring the US right now, and he’s with us.

Up next On Point:  Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, and the heart of the Cuban sound.

-Tom Ashbrook


Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Cuban bandleader and musician. Leader of the “Afro-Cuban All Stars.” He also organized and led the “Buena Vista Social Club” band – the subject of the widely acclaimed album in 1997 and documentary in 1999.

José Massó, longtime host of WBUR Boston’s Latin music show “¡Con Salsa!”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Dallas Weekly “Heavily influenced by American radio, DeMarcos began his career a self-described ‘aspiring punk-rocker’ inspired by acts such as Jimmy Hendricks and Van Halen. It wasn’t until later in his life that he would come to appreciate that the sounds of his native Cuba would be his means to success and self expression.”

The Thread “If you have even a passing fondness for the traditional music of the Caribbean, then Havana legend Juan de Marcos González needs no introduction. First, back in the 1970’s, he formed the influential band Sierra Maestra, which introduced the music of Cuba to a new generation. Then he spearheaded the Buena Vista Social Club recording sessions that, in the 1990’s, made this music a worldwide sensation.”

PBS “Now Rubén González has his own band; Ibrahim Ferrer has his own band; Compay Segundo is on his own; Eliades Ochoa is a big success; The Afro Cuban All Stars are also very well known. Not only in the U.S. but worldwide, in Europe. I’m happy because it’s like a realized dream. I knew that we would be successful, because of the authenticity of the music. The fact that it’s the old guys coming to life again. Now everyone wants to do the same”

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  • TrueAdventure

    Nothing to do with today’s show, but highly recommend watching a video about aluminum. It just aired in Europe yesterday and is available onlinehttp://videos.arte.tv/de/videos/die-akte-alu–7367250.html
    Unfortunately it’s only available in German and French

  • Gregg Smith

    I’ve been studying Cuban music of late and love it. It’s all about the Clave. The Montuno piano is tricky. I’d love to hear a sample of the “Afro-Cuban All-Stars”.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    QUESTION for Sñr Gonzalez: In The Early ’60s, at the height of the American mambo jazz era, the New York label Coronet was the home of Perez Prado, among others. It has become evident that the master tapes to these great recordings may be lost forever. Do you or does anyone have any insight as to what happened to these recordings or is there a chance that these recordings may yet see the light of day in re-releases?

    Thanks for your reply, Bob in Connecticut.

  • Mauricio salmon

    how does ry cooder fit into the buena vista album? in the film it seems like he a role in the band but not much was mentioned about Juan De Marcos Gonzalez.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlo-Danese/100002305865604 Carlo Danese

    I am 67, grew up in NY / NJ and listened to a dj called ‘Symphony Sid’ who played a lot of ‘straight ahead’ jazz as well as afro cuban – Wonder if you have heard of him  - he had a great intro song, the last line was : ..’so let ‘em roll’ – referring to the records on the turntables – wonderful music

    • jose masso

      Saludos Carlo,

      Symphony Sid is a legend in the history of radio – important figure in Afro-Latin music…..”Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid” is a cut that pays tribute to him, recorded by several jazz and Latin jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Poncho Sanchez….there is an album “Symphony Sid’s last radio broadcast” on Fania Records that is a classic and hard to come by that includes an interview with Willie Colón…he was also featured in the iconic Fania All-Stars live at the Cheetah album and film.

      Un abrazo,

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=544296846 Alethea Kelly

    Experienced the Afro-Cuban All Stars live in Nashville at Vanderbilt 2011!  Couldn’t stop dancing!  Love it!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ruth-Baker/100001422167591 Ruth Baker

    I listen to many programs on WBUR, and when “iCon Salsa” came on, I had a neutral opinion of the music Mr. Masso played. I DO listen to a lot of different types of music, and I have come to appreciate, and love many of the compositions Mr. Masso plays.
     So, I went to having a neutral opinion of the Afro-Cuban music (Although I always thought that much of the music was so lively, it would keep someone up all night!) to having a few of the songs on my Android!  (I don’t have many songs on my phone, yet, but I have: B6 to Esperanza Spaulding to George Howard to Ruben Blades to Miguel Zenon . . .!)Mr. Masso seems very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and is a great asset for WBUR!!! Love listening to his program.  Keep it going, Mr. Masso!!!  

    • jose masso

      ¡Gracias! Thank you very much Ruth for your comments and for listening to “¡Con Salsa!”…nice mix of music on your Android!

      Un abrazo, 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=675004190 Jason Villani

    Was listening this morning and right when Juan was discussing the politics of American restrictions on Cuban artists the whole conversation got dumped and went to some caller from Wallingford. It was very bizarre. Not sure what is up with that but it came off as last minute censoring of the politics of the situation because he was about to implicate US policy toward Cuba. One cannot talk about music and culture of Cuba and the US without discussing the imperial relationship that the US has vis a vis Cuba. The US has a long history of criminal aggression and covert subversion against the Cuba nation and leaving that out is not being honest to the historical context of this topic. 

    • jose masso

      Greetings Jason,

      Juan de Marcos, in response to a listener/caller was talking about the fact that Cuban musicians/singers residing in the US, specifically Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino and the late Celia Cruz were not allowed into Cuba by the Cuban government…and that depending on the administration in the US, it was more likely that Cuban musicians/groups could tour the US…that was the case under President Clinton, harder under Bush and once again more likely under President Obama…some of the bands I mentioned Los Van Van, Pupy y Los Que Son Son, Orquesta Aragon, Adalberto Alvarez y su Son have toured and tour the US…and some Cuban singers/musicians now living in the US or Mexico or Spain return and perform in Cuba as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luke.held.9 Luke Held

    Unrelated to this show.

    Please do a show covering the Progressive Caucus budget

    From Bill Scher’s article linked below:

    “the Progressive Caucus budget prioritizes jobs, with infrastructure
    investment, school modernization, a Park Improvement Corps, Student Jobs
    Corps, Child Care Corps and funds to hire teachers, police firefighters
    and other civil servants.

    But the Caucus does not neglect deficit reduction while investing in
    jobs. The overall budget reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion over 10 years
    by raising tax rates on millionaires, closing tax loopholes that favor
    the wealthy, enacting a tax on Wall Street speculation, eliminating
    unneeded corporate subsidies for fossil fuels and putting a desperately
    needed price on carbon pollution.”


  • hennorama

    This topic reminded me of a sweet little animated film “Chico & Rita” that tells the story of two young Cubans – one a piano player and the other a singer.  Here’s what IMDb has to say:


    Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey – in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero – brings heartache and torment. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds to unite in music and love.”


    The soundtrack has original music from Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer Bebo Valdes and features music by many other greats, such as Tito Puente, Chucho Valdes, Chano Pozo, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, and Cole Porter.

    Latin jazz fanciers should also consider the film Calle 54, which is essentially jam sessions of a number of great players, recorded in a music studio on 54th St. in NYC.  Again, from IMDb:


    Fernando Trueba presents his love affair with Latin jazz, his camera following 13 giants into the studio. Trueba drapes walls with single colors – red for Jerry González and the Fort Apache band, white for Tito Puente; his camera is close to faces, instruments, hands, and feet; bands’ colors contrast with walls or their leader’s clothes. Chucho Valdés does a pyrotechnic solo then joins his aged father Bebo for a subdued duet. Puntilla Ríos takes us to Africa, Chano Domínguez to a marriage of jazz and Flamenco, and Eliane Elias, her shoe-less foot on the pedal, to gorgeous and muscular elegance. With Paquito, Cachao, Patato, Chico, Gato, and Michel Camilo, we travel Calle 54.”


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1239974134 Peter Potter

    Great show! I really enjoyed the insights  Juan de Marcos Gonzalez shared, and the musical selections that were presented.  Tom asked the audience where were they first exposed to Cuban music.  For me, as a child, it was the I Love Lucy show, and the scenes of Desi Arnaz playing at the Copa.  I have loved and craved it since.
    Muchas gracias por sabor de Cuba

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