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Havana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba | INDIE

Havana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba | INDIE
Band Latin World


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"Junio Groove Guardian Review 4*"

Asere continue to surprise. It's been well over a decade since this young Cuban band were discovered and promoted by the Colombian singer Toto la Momposina, and they have gone on to shake up the Havana music scene, carefully balancing a respect for the traditions of Son, the dominant Cuban dance style, with unexpected new influences. This is a seven-piece band who play great, slinky and rhythmic dance music, but can use the same rhythms as the basis for the thoughtful Tumbao Sangreao, dealing with the problems and loss caused by the 2008 hurricanes, and can show their respect for the New York salsa scene with Rubén Blades's El Cantante, made famous by Hector Lavoe, or a song by the Cuban-influenced Henry Fiol. Then, in total contrast, there's Harissa, an intriguing instrumental piece in which Son is mixed with Spanish and Middle Eastern influences, with the flamenco guitar flurries of Andres Valdes matched against furious violin improvisation from Alexis Lefevre. Then there's the atmospheric, rhythmic and half-spoken Yo Naci En El Solar, a tribute to Havana's black neighbourhoods, and the laid-back, gently moody title track, featuring the horn work of the band's musical director, Michel Padron. This is Asere's fourth album, the follow-up to their collaboration with percussionist Billy Cobham; they are sounding as fresh and adventurous as ever. - Robin Denselow, The Guardian, February 2010

"Songlines Junio Groove Review"

Cuban ex-pats prove there's no place like home.

When Asere started out, they were young turks from the margins of Havana, part of a scene that peaked with the funky timba music of the 1990s. Then, Cuba found that a lot of its younger artists were leaving the country, taking their dreams and abundant creativity with them. Asere is a street cred Afro-Cuban greeting and, by adopting it as their name, Asere were embodying the youthful energy that Cuban cultural life has so often not known how to channel.

So it's interesting that this album intersperses their own original songs with classic pieces of Latin salsa and Cuban son, reworking them in the process of making their own irresistible music. It's a two-pronged tribute: to their Havana neighbourhoods (and, by implication, all Latin barrios) and to the canon of music that expresses life there, and keeps such neighbourhoods going.

There's a strong narrative here, from Ruben Blades "El Cantante' (The Singer) through Marquetti's sublime 'Oriente', name-checking great sonero singers. The thrilling choral rumba 'Yo Naci En Un Solar' (I Was Born In A Tenement) evokes Cuba's old community houses, 'Psicologia' captures poignancy, while the sensual 'Harissa' has some lovely Andalusian flamenco-jazz undertones. The slow, emotional build to Henry Fiol's 'Palo Santo' is exemplary, with vocal tones, guitar layers, flashes of trumpet and pattering percussion becoming a total Afro-Cuban prayer. It's a truism that you have to leave home to appreciate what you love and value about it, but that is what is proved on every note and lyric of this quite sensational disc. - Songlines (Jan Fairley)

"Mojo Junio Groove Review"

The fourth album from the Havana-based septet is a great addition to the catalogue, and Michel Padron's trumpet and flugelhorn skills are mesmerising. - Mojo Magazine

"Jungle Drums Junio Groove Review"

Fresh from their collaboration with Panamanian jazz legend Billy Cobham, Asere's new release harks back to the great Cuban Son days of Ignacio Pineiro and Arsenio Rodriguez and pays homage to the internationally
known Buena Vista Social Club but incorporates even more funk and jazz. David Echevarria's and
Vicente Arencibia's voices have a real feeling behind them and are harmonious, authentic complementing the music perfectly.

The seven-piece from Cuba have encapsulated the spirit of the Caribbean island, as you are bombarded by infusing beats and insatiable rhythms, at times coercing your hips and feet in time with the music. Others leave you imagining a Cuban veranda, sun, sea,
sand and sipping an ice-cold mojito. - Olli Hunter, Jungle Drums Magazine.

"Daily Telegraph Junio Groove Review"

The sometime young turks of Afro-Cuban rhythm present a highly listenable blend of Latin flavours: smooth New York salsa, old-school Havana rumba and some unusual Middle Eastern-tinged flamenco. If the sheer skill of their playing borders on the clinical, the best tracks strum up a moody intensity that makes this album more than a tasteful exercise in style. - Daily Telegraph

"The Arts Desk Junio Groove Review"

A clutch of neo-retro son bands – including Asere – thrived during the Buena Vista phenomenon, and rose from Havana’s tourist bars and street parties to globe-trotting tours of Europe. But with the waning of BV, a reinvention away from the aged classics was vital; Asere kept hold of the early 20th-century son style (preserved in Oriente’s correctly trumpet-led version), avoided the spread of electronic Reggaeton, and dug themselves into the countryside of Andalucia, dripping flamenco into their songs in an easy, historically logical liason. “Harissa” (the North African hot sauce equivalent to salsa) goes furthest into that fusion with the lead singer David Echevarria’s tone sharper-than-son sweetness but mild compared to flamenco’s uncontrolled passion; the guitar’s note-bending is unmistakeably oud-like.

Voices are focal here and led by Echevarria and Vicente P Arencibia. Of the nine songs, “El Cantante” (the Singer) causes me problems However – elsewhere – the two men turn in some glorious performances. For the rumba, “Yo naci en un Solar” (I was born in a tenement), Echevarria’s chant-singing and the accompanying male choruses channel us deep into the earthy soulfulness of Afro-Cuban music, accompanied by a low-key bluesy-flamenco electric guitar and surprisingly reserved drumming.

The diversity of this collection reflects the new openness possible today in Cuba. Influence from once-taboo salsa is strong: Ruben Blades’s distinctively nasal, yearning singing style permeates several songs including “Sonamos flamenco”, where it effectively merges into a backdrop of gypsy flamenco. “Psycologia” shows obvious influence, in the tremulous moments, from Miami superstar, Willie Chirino – a fact, until recently, unimaginable. These explorations are yielding unpredictable results, and here, work beautifully. - Sue Steward:

"The List Junio Groove Review"

A thrilling disc from the Cuban group Asere, fruitfully moving on from recent work with the celebrated percussionist/producer Billy Cobham. Taking Cuba’s classic son music by the scruff, they re-earth it, filling it with sensuous pleasure as with their tribute to its origins in Oriente with serenading vocals, terrific piano, guitars and trumpet.

Their famous contemporary edge comes through in the irresistable rumba ‘Yo Nací En Un Solar’ (I Was Born In A Solar) celebrating growing up in common patios in Havana’s marginal neighbourhoods. With Moorish and flamenco edges for ‘Harissa’ and ‘Sonamos Flamenco’ this ‘must have’ disc provides a good way to heat up your winter. - The List

"Guardian 3star Live review"

100 Club: Oxford St, London.

The last gig of Asere's tour is a sweaty, urgent gig in Oxford Street's agreeably seedy
100 Club — little changed since its 1970s heyday as a subterranean haven for jazz, punk and renegade blues. The Cuban band covers familiar son, bolero and cha-cha-cha forms as well as more unusual hybrids: brand new songs devised and demo-ed in Europe in preparation for a new
album. Their seven-strong instrumentation is a low-tech line-up of guitar, tres, upright bass, three percussionists and trumpet.
Main singer David Echevarria has a pleasant yet penetrating tenor that soars easily above the clatter of busy percussion. He can sing loudly when required, but never strains, swaying gracefully and shaking the maracas that hang around his neck on a long rope. Musical Michel Padron's assured trumpet-playing adds an authentic flourish, giving fire to the most uptempo songs. It's Asere's sense of arrangement, rather than hardware, that gives their version of Cuba's dance traditions a contemporary twist.
Luz Que No Alumbre, a sentimental number sung by Vicente Arrencibia, segues into a fast coda, with some original touches in the backing vocals.
Asere are not afraid eschew dance rhythms or change mood: Romantica is open and spacious, like Spanish-language Sting, with flanged acoustic guitar, deep bass and moody muted trumpet. They demonstrate their versatility with a version of Happy Birthday to You, dedicated to promoter (and Soho music scene legend) Stuart Lyon; they give the corny song a distinctively Cuban dignity, infused with tasty chord substitutions and bittersweet vocals.
The groove rarely flags. - The Guardian


Cuban Soul (1998)
Yo Soy El Son (2000)
Destinos (2004)
De Cuba Y De Panama 2008 (with Billy Cobham)
Junio Groove (2010)
BBC Radio3 airplay and sessions



Asere have just released their fourth solo album to huge acclaim (4star reviews in The Guardian, 3star review in the Daily Telegraph, “Top OF The World” Songlines award). They have played the big stages of many of the world's major festivals including Glastonbury and WOMAD (a number of times).

Discovered and touted by legendary Colombian Cantadora Toto La Momposina and riding the wave of Cuban music that swept the world in the nineties, Asere draw their inspiration from traditional Cuban son. The seven young musicians came together in the 1990s to create music with a contemporary edge that also maintained the feeling of the songs performed by their forefathers. Staying true to an acoustic base they developed a fresh sound with inventive songwriting and a soulful groove. Across four albums and many tours, they have continued to experiment and evolve. Since 2006 they have been working on a collaborative project with legendary drummer Billy Cobham. Unfazed to be writing and performing alongside the man who once worked with Miles Davis and whose story reads like a history of modern music, Asere have been honing their skills and growing through the experience, eager to explore new horizons.

Whilst retaining the sabor and an acoustic sound used by their forefathers, their song-writing and arrangements go well beyond the old format and structures. Their enthusiasm, fresh energy, powerful performances and recordings have attracted attention – a lot of punch for a trad set-up.

‘It’s time to meet the lads who will take son into the new millennium’ Mojo
‘Full of vitality, artfully poised between past and present.’ The Sunday Times
‘Asere are proof that the future on Son is in very safe hands indeed’ Straight no Chaser
‘An element of surprise and a sense of adventure...uniquely engaging and different from other Cuban bands I have seen’ Charlie Gillett