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Calle Real Me Lo Gane


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This must be a first on the current world music scene: Cuban timba music from chilly Sweden! Sweden, as we know, is in the vodka belt but is not usually classed with the countries that produce first-class rum. Absolut vodka maybe, but not Bacardi. [...]

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Calle Real Me Lo Gane


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This must be a first on the current world music scene: Cuban timba music from chilly Sweden! Sweden, as we know, is in the vodka belt but is not usually classed with the countries that produce first-class rum. Absolut vodka maybe, but not Bacardi. But the lads from Calle Real are impressive and living proof that there are Swedes who know about Cuba Libre – at least musically: because this twelve-strong combo is only one-twenty-fourth Cuban, which is hard to believe when you hear the timba strains of their brand new album Me Lo Gané . You could be forgiven for believing that the musicians had grown up under the Cuban sun rather than the influence of the polar night. Yet the only member of the group to have any Cuban roots at all is Rickard Valdés, who plays conga and timbales: his father is the legendary Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés, who migrated to Sweden in 1960. The other eleven members are all from the land of ABBA and Roxette – but they are as charged with Caribbean power as if they really played gigs to a delighted audience every evening in one of the legendary music clubs of Calle 23, THE street to go in Havana if you are looking for entertainment. Now, with Me Lo Gané they have brought us the perfect soundtrack for the next beach party and all the events to follow it! Those parties should be in full swing from 11th September, when the album comes to the stores. Back in 2006 the band brought out their debut album, Con Fuerza, their first musical exclamation mark, so to speak. The enthusiastic public could scarcely believe their ears and thought the album with its incredibly powerful arrangements and the even more unbelievable vocalist Thomas Eby must be the latest masterpiece by Los Van Van. That was wide of the mark, but it was the biggest compliment that could have been sent from Cuba to Stockholm; so it only took a few puffs of a prime cigar for Calle Real to be knighted by Havana: the band was asked to attend the Festival Benny Moré in Cuba, an annual event bringing together the best salsa and timba bands from Cuba, with international guests too. This experience was certainly a defining one, the “salsa” in the soup of these twelve excellent professional musicians, because with Me Lo Gané the band not only maintained the level of the first album but upped their achievement, with liberal use of irresistible dance numbers and hits. The opener Somos Familia, with thoroughly modern timba, signalises that the eleven tracks are to be a kaleidoscope of energy and vibration to set off a real timba tsunami: variable tempi, full-scale brass music, perfectly authentic solo and ensemble vocals, earthy bass, spot-on percussion and piano every bit as good as the virtuosity of the legendary Los Van Van pianist César "Pupy" Pedroso. The whole brew is presented to us with endless power, and Calle Real gets better and better all the time, from song to song to song… To sum up: the band could not have chosen a more fitting title for their album than “Me Lo Gané” – “I've earned it”. This refreshing, imaginative, absolutely superb album truly deserves to take its place on the Mount Olympus of the Cuban musical elite. Cuba ahora – old Swede!


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