Failde Con Tumbao
Word is surely getting around in this ever smaller world of ours. In the past few months, this writer has been contacted by artists and/or producers in Russia, Sweden, and Cuba. We have covered some of the jazz artists on the Russian label, Rainy Days and will be telling you about a blues album from Sweden shortly. But, the story here is obviously Cuba. And the timing couldn’t be more coincidental. Less than a day after viewing a recorded performance of Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and the Afro-Cuban All Stars, Ethiel Failde, flutist and conductor of the large ensemble Orquesta Failde reached out so it seemed only appropriate to share some ‘feel good’ Cuban music with our readers.
Failde Con Tumbao is the newest album from Ethiel Failde’s orchestra, their third, music that would slot into the Traditional Tropical Latin category for Grammy consideration. The album was released in May and is available on all digital platforms. With its eight tracks, the album was originally intended to have 11 tracks but the final three were halted due to Covid-19, now planned for the physical release. Even casual listeners of Cuban music will recognize a few of the names involved in the project – Omara Portuondo (Buena Vista Social Club) sings on “Disordered (I Get Messy)” and the album has multiple arrangers including six-time Latin Grammy winner Gonzalo Rubalcaba who arranged “Warsaw Concert.” Less familiar guests to some (certainly not to connoisseurs of Cuban music) are Andy Montañez, Federico Britos, Julito Padron and Alejandro Falcón, the latter of whom arranged half of the selections.
As this is traditional Cuban music, the sound is replete with multiple vocalists on most selections, percolating piano, bright brass, and ever present percussion. As the leader Ethiel solos often on flute, which is slightly different sound than one hears on many Cuban albums. This ensemble also has two violinists and uses synthesizers on the opening “Warsaw Concerto.” The production covers more than a century of Cuban music, since it includes from the danzón “Nievecita”, unpublished work by Miguel Failde dated in 1883, Note that Ethiel Failde is a direct descendant of the creator of that musical form, the national dance of Cuba. It also has versions of classics from American music such as Addinsel’s “Concert of Warsaw”, even songs specially conceived for this album such as “La cumbanchá” and “Tumbao”. The arrangements of Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Yosvany Terry, José Antonio González Font, Alejandro Falcón, stand out in a mosaic of genres ranging from danzón to timba, as is usual during live performances of the orchestra. Interestingly, “It Do Me Good” was co-written by legendary New Orleans hero, Huey “Piano” Smith.
This is lively infectious music, as alluded to, designed for dancing. It’s impossible to sit still while listening and will invariably lift your spirits. If you haven’t revisited your Buena Vista Social Club music in a while, or even if you have, give this a listen. Joy abounds.
- Jim Hynes
More on Orquesta Failde
Created in 2012 by Ethiel Failde, the Orquesta Failde is a group of very talented young people who assume with passion the Cuban music at the root and in particular the defense and recontextualization of the danzón tradition .. They have performed in more than 20 cities in the United States, Martinique, Mexico and Canada, in such important venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Los Angeles Hall of Mexico City, Gran Teatro Nacional of Lima, Peru and the Place des Arts in Montreal. They have collaborated with great artists and groups such as Omara Portuondo, Andy Montañez, Johnny Ventura, Eugenia León, Guadalupe Pineda, Orquesta Aragón and Septeto Santiaguero. His second album with Omara Portuondo, Diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, pays tribute to Benny More in his centenary called Siempre Tu Voz: Homenaje a Benny Moré en Su Centenario.