Ry Cooder returned to Havana’s Egrem Studio, site of the Buena Vista Social Club recordings, to cut these tracks with Cuban guitar legend Los Zafiros’s Manuel Galbán. The pair, says the New York Times, “create a time-warped neverland where unhurried melodies hover above subtly swaying Cuban rhythms.”
2003 Grammy Award Winner
Mambo Sinuendo, Ry Cooder’s collaboration with Cuban guitar legend Manuel Galbán, hearkens back to a point in the late 1950s when Cuban popular music began to hint at a fusion of American pop-jazz and the futuristic creations of modern Cuban composers (like Perez Prado). Borne along by the mid-century mambo and cha-cha-cha crazes, the hot sounds of mambo-jazz spread out into American popular culture—Perez Prado was Vegas-bound; Stan Kenton hit the road with his "Cuban Fire" orchestra; Henry Mancini scored Touch of Evil à la Prado; and Duane Eddy had a Top 10 hit with the mambo-esque "Theme from Peter Gunn."
But nowhere can there be found a more perfect representation of this style than in the recordings of the Havana doo-wop quartet Los Zafiros, still after 40 years the most popular Cuban vocal group of all time. As Los Zafiros's guitarist and arranger, Manuel Galbán pioneered a tough, rocking guitar style that is considered by Cuban musicians to be unique in their music. Mambo Sinuendo reintroduces Manuel Galbán—pianist, organist, and guitarist extraordinaire.
Says Cooder, "Galbán and I felt that there was a sound that had not been explored—a Cuban electric-guitar band that could reinterpret the atmosphere of the 1950s with beauty, agility, and simplicity. We decided on two electrics, two drum sets, congas and bass: a sexteto that could swing like a big band and penetrate the mysteries of the classic tunes. This music is powerful, lyrical, and funny—what more could you ask? Mambo Sinuendo is Cuban soul and high-performance twang."
For Mambo Sinuendo, Cooder has enlisted the bassist for all the Buena Vista Social Club sessions, Orlando “Cachaíto” López. The percussionists include longtime collaborator Jim Keltner; Cooder's son, Joachim Cooder, another Buena Vista veteran; and the conga master Miguel “Angá” Díaz.
A Perro Verde / World Circuit Production
Produced by Ry Cooder
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Boys
Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana, Cuba
Additional recording at Capitol Studios and Sound City Studios, Los Angeles
Assistant Recording Engineers: Simon Burwell, Jimmy Hoyson and Isel Martínez Rodríguez
Mixed at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles
Digital Editing by Rail Jon Rogut and Jared Smith
Mastered by Tom Leader and Jerry Boys at Livingston Studios, London
Music Coordinator: Demetrio Muñiz
Production Coordinators: Zita M. Morrina (Toti) & Sara Daoud
Executive in Charge of Production for World Circuit: Nick Gold
Design by Doyle Partners
Cover Photography by Cindy Lewis
Manuel Galbán, guitar (1-12)
Ry Cooder, guitar (1-12), steel guitar (1, 8), trés (2), vibes (3), electric piano (4, 7), organ (6), electric bass (6)
Jim Keltner, drums (1-5, 7, 11)
Joachim Cooder, drums (1, 4-8, 12)
Miguel “Angá” Díaz, congas (1-5, 7, 8, 12)
Orlando “Cachaíto” López, bass (1-12)
Juliette Commagere, Carla Commagere, coro (2, 6)
Gregorio Hernández Rios “Goyo”, Maximino Duquesne Martínez, Marcos H. Scull, Yosvani Díaz, bata drums (3)