Raul PAZ
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Raul PAZ

Band World Latin


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En Vivo 2007 Cd DVD Live
En Casa 2006
Revolucion 2005
Mulata 2003
Blanco y Negro 2000
Cuba Libre 1999



Sometimes the first times are also a cause for celebrations and for a really huge party. Coming home after having recorded five albums, toured the world, coming home to fill this hole: “It was very important for me to play here in Cuba,� Raul Paz emphasises, “in front of an audience who understand my music, my lyrics, the allusions and the irony, the digs… I wanted to gain their approval and see them make my music theirs. I really needed that, like a son needs his father to tell him he’s proud of him.�

So it was a hugely emotional moment when he came out on stage at the Alcapulco - a cinema in Havana where Raul used to come as a student to see the Cuban groups that made an impression on him. After Havana, he moved on to Pinar del Rio, the town where he was born, to play in an extraordinary Italian-style theatre called the “Milanès�, a rococo jewel where his family, friends and anyone who managed to get hold of a ticket, took their seats for two evenings in a row. Raul was eight or nine years old when he last took to the stage of the “Milanès�. He’d come full circle…

It all began in 1998 in Paris. It was like a scene from a Hollywood movie with a producer coming into his dressing room and saying, “I like what you do, would you just sign on the dotted line?� “That was really the way it happened, more or less,� says Raul with a smile. The producer was Ralph Mercado, the chairman of the US RMM label which has all the stars of latin music on its books: Tito Puente, Celia Cruz… He recorded his first album “Imaginate� in Miami, which was released in Europe under the title “Cuba Libre�, then a second album followed, very salsa, very latin.

After two years in the States, he decided to return to France with the idea of making a different kind of music. “I didn’t fully identify with the second album, with this image of a Cuban doing salsa.� On “Mulata�, his third album, which marked the beginning of his work with Naïve, Raul adapted the “Cuban raw material� that forms the basis and origin of his musical culture to his own style, opening it up to new sounds and new colours.

Right in the middle of “Buena Vista mania�, Raul Paz offered a different take on Cuban music. And his take started to win him listeners: thirty gigs in Parisian clubs and playing La Cigale to round things off. “It was completely amazing, I was playing the music I wanted to play, making no compromises, and the choices I made got this incredible public response…�

After “Mulata� came “Revolución� in 2005. More of a rock album… Paz style…

Finally, in 2006, Raul took up residence in Cuba for a few months. It was the first time he been there for more than a short stay, allowing him to get to know his country again and record “En Casa� at the legendary Egrem studios in Havana. It was during this period that the idea of coming to Cuba to play some gigs gradually dawned on him. “When you look back over everything you’ve done, you see where you’ve been, Europe, South America, the United States… The only place missing was Cuba. The idea emerged quite naturally by looking at plans for a concert tour and saying to myself, hey, what about a gig in Cuba? Why not?�

It didn’t turn out to be quite so plain sailing due to administrative and technical problems, the lack of equipment, not forgetting the need to reestablish diplomatic relations with his country again… But Cuba was the only place to record a DVD. And Raul Paz is a pretty stubborn guy… “You have this feeling nothing’s moving,� Raul continues,“ that it’s not going to be possible and then as if by a miracle things sort themselves out and everyone starts pulling together, the Ministry of Culture, the technical staff on site, the video team, the French staff, the record label, your partners, the musicians…�

After an initial plan to play the opening concert outdoors, it finally takes place at the Acapulco, a historic venue of the Cuban scene. “I was a bundle of nerves, I was going out to play in front of an audience I didn’t really know anything about. It was an overwhelming experience. I didn’t expect a welcome like that. The gig lasted for two and a half hours; it was all very powerful.�

Many of the songs he plays are taken from the “Revolución� and “Mulata� albums. He sets the tone by opening with “El Beso� with a different groove. “It was a funkier concert and some tracks, like “Policia� or “Aprietala�, were close to R&B and electro�. Every song takes on an extra dimension on stage. “The rhythm’s there, the piano, the brass, and the percussions in particular remind us of a Cuban sound, but the twists in the tune and the arrangements have nothing to do with the clichés we have of Cuban music, and we’re just having fun, just doing whatever we want,� Raul explains. “That was what they were expec