2555 block party in matanzas crop

Cuban Counterpoint of Tobacco and Sugar: Sacred Musical Spaces in Western Cuba

Borrowing the title from Cuban polymath Fernando Ortiz, producer Ned Sublette takes a group of travelers, including you, to multiple sites in western Cuba to analyze the musical impact of what Ortiz called the “Cuban counterpoint” of tobacco and sugar. We’ll hear endangered species of drums in mountain farms and sugar towns, drilling down into the deep culture of the Afro-Cuban world. We’ll hear sacred drumming as handed down from Kongo sources, from Yorubaland, from Dahomey, and more, in sites that are indelibly stamped with the imprints of Africa, above all in music. We’ll hear an incredible poetic improviser, go to a block party in Matanzas, and talk to our guest scholar, Latin Grammy-winning record producer Caridad Diez, about the power of rumba and its meaning in Cuban society in the wake of UNESCO’s designation of rumba as world heritage. Update: Ned Sublette’s group was in Cuba at the time of Fidel Castro’s death. Ned, who covered the story for Billboard, tells us what he experienced as Cuba went for nine days without live music. Produced by Ned Sublette.