Personnel: Eugene Rodriguez (vocals, claves, maracas) Bertha Portuondo, Pío Leyva (vocals) Pancho Amat (tres) Gonzalez Rubalcaba (piano) Tata Guines (congas).
Septeto Nacional, now in its third generation, is one of Cuba`ss oldest musical institutions and one of the country`s top groups. To mark the 70th anniversary of this legendary group, Network has come up with a birthday present: Recordings of highly distinguished guest artists, each of whom represents an important chapter in Cuban musical history. The stars of the Cuban music scene are in great demand these days, so it took quite a while to get this project off the ground, but the resulting line-up is nothing short of sensational. The musicians of Septeto Nacional are joined by Tata Guines, probably the country`s best conga player, with the legendary Gonzales Rubalcaba on piano, the virtuoso Pancho Amat on tres (the Caribbean "little sister" of the guitar), and the smokey voice of Pío Leyva, the benchmark of African-influenced Son Montuno for the past fifty years. Two female vocalists, Bertha Portuondo and Caridad Cuervo also join the créme de la créme of Cuban music, including a new version of the hymn "Arrolla Cubano". Once we had finished recording, Tata Güines and Pío Leyva (whose ages add up to more than 150) enthused that "this impassioned homage to the great history of Septeto Nacional has been like a fountain of youth for us undoubtedly an absolute high point in our musical lives." The repertoire focuses on Son, the hallmark of Creole culture and the very soul of Caribbean music. Son in its purest form, taking off at a tangent into Salsa and then back again to Son. The result is "resonating rum, imbibed through the ears". The lavishly illustrated booklet also includes recipes for Cuba libre, daiquiri and mojito from some of Havana`s best barmen.