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A young man in a modern-day outfit: long dreadlocks, sometimes tied back in a bandana, frame his head; he likes to wear earrings, a necklace and bracelets, and hip western-style clothes. His appearance is markedly different from that of the old [...]

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A young man in a modern-day outfit: long dreadlocks, sometimes tied back in a bandana, frame his head; he likes to wear earrings, a necklace and bracelets, and hip western-style clothes. His appearance is markedly different from that of the old generation of Cuban musicians; his exterior has nothing in common with the soneros of the golden age.

But that certainly does not mean that this member of the younger generation has no respect for the traditions of his home country; quite the reverse, in fact. In musical terms Mayito continues the series of his ancestors with a great sense of history. On this album you will hear that this musician, educated at the Escuela Nacional de la Musica and the Escuela Superior de Arte, has a confident command of all the known Cuban stylistic genres, both old and new. He presents new modern developments on a stable foundation of tradition and solid skill, thus finding his way to his own sound. Mayito the singer is given solid support by upwardly striving studio musicians and friends, including drummer Samuel Formell (the son of Juan Formell and a member of Los Van Van). With the superb backing band, an outstanding wind section and a percussion driving the works, Mayito has realised his musical vision of skilfully balancing older and modern elements. For example, he subtly enriches the traditional sounds of the opening track "Negrito bailador" with keyboard additions from fusion jazz, creating an invitation to dance. The catchy song "Y sige buscando" contains vocal lines influenced by American soul music. In the scat interlude in "Llego la hora" he sparkles with the improvisational skill of a jazz musician. And finally, the smooth, supple vocal part of the string ballad "Yo rompere esta maldicion" proves that Mayito even harbours a crooner inside himself.

Time and again salsa, timba, soul, rock and jazz are linked to make modern Latin music which sets its listeners moving. A total of ten pieces are good to liven up the most lagging of parties and get everyone on to the dance floor, with rhythms to move to. This joie de vivre is irresistibly catching.

With his lively character, Mario Rivera, aka Mayito, has many times been the subject of attention in other fields too. Amongst other things, his passion has inspired Ritmo Oriental, Girón, the all-star formation Team Cuba, Moncada and Maraca, the group led by former Irakere member Orlando Valles ("Tremenda Rumba"). As a member of Los Van Van he became so famous that literally every child in Cuba knows him. After Cesar "Pupy" Pedroso and Pedro Calvo had left Los Van Van, the supergroup founded by Juan Formell in 1969, Mayito took on the important role of lead singer and with his voice so rich in variants and sure in its intonation, not to mention his friendly, winning manner, he soon rose to become the audience’s favourite.

With him the sound of Cuba’s leading party band became fresher and more modern. And it was thanks largely to the modernisation and youthfulness he brought to the band that Juan Formell & Co. gained more and more young listeners in the 1990s, while still retaining their faithful followers. Mayito Van Van, as his fans lovingly call him, was on the scene for all the significant performances in recent years. Songs like "Soy todo", "Temba, tumba y timba" or "La bomba soy yo" would be virtually unthinkable without his impressive vocals. And the albums "En el Malecón de la Habana", "Lo ultimo en vivo", "Esto te pone la cabeza mala", "Ay Dios, ampárame" and "Llegó Van Van" (the last was awarded a Grammy in 2000) are all characterised by his unmistakeable voice. These releases have meant that Los Van Van have succeeded in maintaining their number one place in the popularity ratings of Cuban bands, a position they have retained right up to today. They are without question the most important musical export of this Caribbean island, and have been an institution for as long as anyone can remember.

In addition to the Go Go's (the English translation of Los Van Van) Mayito was always able to find some time for other projects. On "Yo si como candela" by the Orquesta Todos Estrellas, Mayito, who lives in Havana, was guest singer; Haila Mompié asked him along to take part in "Tributo a Celia Cruz"; saxophonist Juan Ceruto got him into the studio for "Gracias Formell"; he has made guest appearances for Bamboleo, Issac Delgado etc. and been a part of the making of "De buena fe", an album by Manolín "El Medico de la Salsa". Under his own name, Mayito brought out the album "Pa' bachatear … Chappotín", on which he performed new arrangements of classics by Chappotín. In 2004 he took part in "MUSICA CUBANA - The Sons of Cuba" as an actor and musician. He was a central movie character and a member of the SONS OF CUBA in the film of the same name directed by Wim Wenders, singing "Negrito Bailador", “Somos Cubanos”, “Chan Chan” and “Vine pa' ver”

Works like these have spread the news of Mayito’s top qualities as a performer far beyond the shores of Cuba. His charismatic singing is popular with listeners all over the world. On his latest solo album, “NEGRITO BAILADOR”, Mayito has now sent that relaxed, happy party feeling all round the globe. His following is bound to swell considerably on hearing this album.

And this is just the beginning!


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