Master Class with the Legendary Orquesta Aragón
The Heart of Havana: Master Class with the Legendary Orquesta Aragón
For over 70 years, Cuba’s most venerable charanga orchestra, the Orquesta Aragón, has been the cornerstone of Cuban culture, pioneering the indelible sound of the cha-cha-chá during the 1950s and evolving over the years while staying true to its roots. On Saturday, November 3rd, the Jazzschool and SFJAZZ Education are proud to co-present an intimate master class with the members of the group as they share the extraordinary legacy of Cuban popular music and highlight the infectious rhythms that have echoed around the globe. Open to musicians of all abilities as well as general audiences, this participatory class will explore the foundations of Cuban forms such as the danzón (the national dance) and trace its evolution to the mambo and the cha-cha-chá. Pianist, author, musicologist and SFJAZZ Director of Education Rebeca Mauleón will host the program, which will include Q&A. Participants are encouraged to bring claves, maracas and other small percussion and are welcome to play, sing, dance and experience the full immersion into the joyous world of Afro-Cuban music. Part lecture-performance and part hands-on experience, this very special one-of-a-kind workshop with the legendary group will be a rare treat!
As Cuba’s most venerable charanga band, Orquesta Aragón has been a cornerstone of Cuban culture for seven decades, prospering in the heady, profligate days before Fidel Castro came to power and then thriving after the revolution transformed the country’s music industry. Through all the personnel, stylistic and political changes, Aragón has kept its focus, spreading irresistible Cuban rhythms around the world. Always looking to make dancers happy, the band has cultivated a highly flexible approach that allows it to keep up with changing fashions while staying true to its basic sound. Founded in 1939 by bassist Orestes Aragón, the group came together in the faded
colonial town of Cienfuegos. After popularizing cha-cha-chá in the mid-1950s, the group reached the height of its fame in 1965, when it joined other leading ensembles in a highly publicized international tour. The 1982 death of Aragón leader Rafael Lay in a car crash sidelined the band for several years, until Rafael Lay Jr. polished the old repertoire and re-formed the ensemble. With several other sons of key Aragon musicians now in the band, Orquesta Aragón has regained its reputation as one of the foremost interpreters of classic Cuban popular songs.
A co-production of SFJAZZ and the Jazzschool.
Saturday November 3, 3:30-5:30pm
$20 general admission