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Habana Abierta

Eclectic Cuban band based in Madrid

Armando Bellmas
Armando Bellmas
Habana Abierta

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to the Cuban band Habana Abierta, which draws from the eclectic tastes of musicians on the island and in exile. This funky song is a mix of subtle salsa rhythms buried beneath a funky groove and a rap-like vocal that captures that eclectic spirit of Cubans around the world (like yours truly). You'll go deeper with an excerpt from an article by Julienne Gage from 2007 on Miami New Times.

"Asere ¿Qué Volá?" by Habana Abierta
2005 | Eclectic Cuban band based in Madrid

Go deeper.
"Asere Qué Volá" (Cuban slang for "what's up dude") encapsulates the [Cuban] exile's sense of dislocation as he chants to his compatriots: "I found out on the chat that it's cold as hell in Denmark/I told you in an e-mail that there's good eats in Spain/You sent word that salsa's really popular in Paris/Every time I call my mom she says, 'My dear child, stay where you are!'"

The songs on the Boomerang LP [which this song is on] are, in many ways, a celebration of the musical eclecticism of Cuban musicians living overseas. Luis Barbería's joyous "Como Soy Cubano," for instance, begins as a disco tune and evolves into a salsa and timba party. "A lot of people think Cuban music is just salsa and son, but this'll teach you all about rockason," he sings. Barbería isn't the slightest bit uncomfortable with the song's soft rock and soul underpinnings. "During our era in Cuba recording an album was almost unthinkable. A lot of the music we'd accumulated didn't come out until we started recording in Spain," he explains in a recent phone interview. These days his CD purchases are aimed at filling a collection of music he heard in Cuba but couldn't buy on the market, including Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and gospel music.

The album's lyrics also document the musicians' evolution toward greater freedom of speech, running the gamut from the downside of macho pride in love affairs to sexual innuendos about "churros with chocolate," to lamentations about Cuban friends imprisoned back home. In Gutiérrez's words, "We speak more forcefully as we try to describe a reality that is so different from our current one, but as far as the music, leaving Cuba really reinforced the history and the identity."

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