Juan-Carlos Formell
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Juan-Carlos Formell

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The best kept secret in music



This Cuban trio has achieved the near-impossible -- a flavorful reduction of son-infused rock that does justice to both genres. Wielding a dazzling electric guitar, Juan-Carlos Formell hurls Cuban music into the future." - NY POST

"Cuban power trio takes off!"

"so funky-groovy-jazzy, they will have the musicically intrepid checking FOrmell's tour calendar obsessively to see him rip the joint -- any joint -- up in person."
-- Tammy La Gorce - AMG

"Beyond Borders"

"Every one of Formell's solos was a wicked, head-turning masterpiece." - Metroland


"songs from a little blue house" (RCA 1999)
"las calles del paraiso" (EMI Latin 2002)
"cemeteries & desire" (Narada 2005)
"son radical" (Narada )2006)




Expect the unexpected from Cuban music rebel Juan-Carlos Formell, whose visionary songs have been hailed as "the magical realism of music".

Born in Havana in 1964, Juan-Carlos is a fourth generation musician. But the restrictions of the government-controlled music industry in his homeland made it difficult for the singer/songwriter/guitarist/bassist to express his new ideas. "While still in my twenties, at a time when most musicians are full of hope, I was resigned to a future of marginalization," Juan-Carlos recalls.

In 1993 he fled to the United States, to make his own music, his way. He went to New York where he established a band, cubalibre. In 1998 he was signed to the world music label Wicklow Records. Juan-Carlos teamed up with the legendary producer/engineer John Fischbach to make his debut CD, songs from a little blue house. His years of struggle in exile were vindicated when the album received a nomination for the Grammy 2000.

His next release, in 2002, also produced by John Fischbach, was the critically-acclaimed las calles del paraiso (EMI Latin). Then, after several years of touring with his band and some major concerts -- with Buena Vista Social Club veteran Eliades Ochoa, and world music stars Cesaria Evora, Milton Nascimento and Susana Baca -- Juan-Carlos decided to take on the challenge of a solo guitar project. Inspired by a sojourn in New Orleans, Juan-Carlos returned to the Crescent City in May of 2005 to record cemeteries & desire , which was released by Narada Records in August 2005. The album features powerful original ballads -- songs now haunted by the devastation of the city.

His current project, son radical, is the spontaneous combustion of rock en clave that came out of Los Angeles recording sessions with two other exceptional Cuban musicians -- drummer/producer Jimmy Branly (of NG la Banda) and bassist Carlitos del Puerto (of Caravana Cubana). "The son is the root of everything," says Juan Carlos. Working from that base, we have the credentials to break the rules of Cuban music and the clichés of the Latin music establishment. We broke away from Cuba because we couldn't accept the restrictions and censorship -- we're a new generation of musicians who have come out of Cuba with something to say, with a mission to expand the definition of what Cuban music is and can be."

Channeling the writing of Cuban negrista poet Nicolas Guillen, Cuban patriot Jose Marti, and the African roots of the Caribbean experience, son radical creates a lyrical, politically-charged dimension of contemporary Cuban music.

Juan-Carlos Formell and son radical have performed in New York at Jazz Standard, S.O.B.’s, The Living Room and Zinc Bar; in New Orleans at Snug Harbor, in Miami at Hoy Como Ayer; in Los Angeles at Temple Bar, The Lummis Day Festival and at jazz festivals throughout the United States.

Juan-Carlos Formell has performed solo concerts throughout the United States, from Seattle to Miami.