Sierra Maestra July 10, 2003

Sierra Maestra, Havana's leading son band is back o­n tour promoting their new hit album, "Rumebero Soy." Luckily for Montrealers, they decided to bring their traditional Afro-Cuban music to the Spectrum for this year's 17th edition of Nuits D'Afrique. Accompanied by a vast array of traditional instruments, Sierra Maestra o­nce again thrilled those hard-core salsa dancers, who tirelessly got their feet and hips shaking and swinging to the rhythm of son. Sierra Maestra has been in formation since 1976, and ever since their debut, they have authenticated the traditional sounds of son, which has influenced artists and musicians across the globe and remains an inspirational source of salsa. Their band's name honors Cuba's majestic Oriente Province mountain range and is also the birthplace of son, traditional sounds that combines tres, guitar, trumpet, bongos, güiro, and classical harmonies. So, if the name Sierra Maestra sounds so familiar, it is likely because their music has influenced well-known bands such as the Afro-Cuban All Stars and the Buena Vista Social Club, which were both originally created by their ex-leader Juan De Marcos González.  As well, Sierra Maestra's previous trumpet player, Jesus Alemañy also left to create his own group Cubanismo. Yet despite the departure of the two original members, the new tres player, Emilio Ramos and the new percussion and trumpet players Alejandro Suarez and Eduardo Niquito have joined the six original band members and have already recorded 14 albums and over 10 singles and now appear o­n at least 40 compilations. What is most wonderful about Sierra Maestra's stage presence is their sense of humour; the three lead vocalists, Alberto Virgilio, Luis Barzaga, and Jose Antonio got the crowd roaring with laughter in between sets and their musical director, Eduardo Himely was all too willing to share Afro-Cuban history with his audience. In short, the band was fabulous, the salsa dancers worked out a good sweat, and all the Afro-Cuban music lovers got a good taste of the multiplicity of their talents. As a dedicated fan yelled at the end of the show, "la musica de Sierra Maestra es muy buenisimas!"

Emilio Ramos: tres
Carlos Puisseaux: guiro
Alejandro Suárez: percussion, general director
Oslén Ceballo Brian:
Eduardo 'Ñiquito' Rico: percussion trumpet
Alberto Virgilio Valdés: lead vocal, maracas
Luis Barzaga: lead vocal, clave
José Antonio 'Maceo' Rodríguez: lead vocal, guitar
Eduardo Himely: bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, musical director

The o­ne and o­nly set list:

1. La Camin
2. Sabina
3. Carnaval
4. No Me llores
5. Mi Musica
6. Dauzonete
7. Felipe
8. El Cumpleanos
9. Couga

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