Vocal Baobab
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Vocal Baobab

Havana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba

Havana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba
Band World Latin

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Music

Press


"Yoruba Dream Review"

“a wonderful introduction to Vocal Baobab, the Afro-Cuban rumba tradition as well as Yoruba deities…Vocal Baobab’s raw polyphonic chants soar above Afro-Cuban rhythms and leave ones feet aching to dance…All of the tracks are lovely…Overall, this is an uplifting recording filled to the brim with the sounds of the African diaspora, drums and chants soaring into the realm of the sensual. It’s Afro-Cuban music with a spiritual dimension.”
- Cranky Crow Whole Music


"Yoruba Dream Review"


“the most funkily secular and traditionally reverent recordings…produces a sound often close to African gospel in its inflections, unison choruses and use of instruments…the gorgeous “Osain’ …rolls with a Lagos funkiness. ‘Ochun’ sung entirely in Yoruba is a showcase for some extraordinary vocalising…and ‘Chango’, the warrior god, provides a close that is proud and rhythmically persuasive
- Songlines March April 2006


"Yoruba Dream Review"


“The sheer might of percussions and voices, sometimes joined by piano, sparse effects and rap-like intonations, cut straight to the soul and spirit. These are raw, gorgeously gripping sounds, highly recommended for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the roots of all Cuban and other Latin music”
World Music Central, March 2006
- World Music Central, March 2006


"Yoruba Dream Review"


“A fine collection …The recording is crisp and clear and the music tight, overall an inspired and inspiring recording. “
- Spin the Globe World Music CD Reviews, Nov 2005


"Spirit of Cuba Review"


“ From beginning to end, there’s a never-ending joie de vivre as revealed in the video (Spirit of Cuba, released by salsatap.com) …by this superb troupe”
- Cuba Sí, Spring 2003


"Big Big World Review"

“ It’s a sure sign that a band has delivered the goods when the stewards join in the dancing…prayerful solo voices and rich harmonies…propelled by the shifting rhythms into a right old ferment…intoxicating”

- The Glasgow Herald, Oct 2003


"New Zealand Festival Review"

“Explosion of Cuban Sound”

“The sounds of Cuba raised the red and yellow roof of the Dans Paleis. The debut performance of Vocal Baobab at the 2002 Festival was a hit with the audience from the moment the seven-piece group burst from the back of the venue in full voice…this group showed why it’s considered one of Havana’s most popular…powerful voices and percussion…an explosion of sounds, and the energy of their delivery was compelling. It was hard to take your eyes off them – their natural groove made for a visual spectacle.”
- The Evening Post, Wellington, March 02


"New Zealand Festival Review"

“Out of Africa, but without Ry Cooder”

“Cuban group Vocal Baobab got the evening off to a lively start last night with a surprise entrance through the back of the venue, the seven performers dressed in traditional garb and all sporting long braided hair.
The stage immediately began to exude waves of intense polyrhythmic activity, generated by a variety of African drums, gourds, cowbells and shakers. Over the top of this came vibrant melodies and strong vocal harmonies. There was a hive of activity with constant interaction between musicians and singers, and spontaneous dancing. Their stage presence was excellent, with their boyish front man quickly developing a good rapport with the audience. This enabled a good response to invitations to participate in songs with clapping and singing, and for two women in the front row, even dancing…To create further variety, the last songs…demonstrated the dance abilities of the troupe…the interesting fusion flavours obviously had great appeal, with most of the audience standing or dancing for this part of the act and the warmth of Cuban culture as displayed by Vocal Baobab was clearly appreciated.”

- The Dominion,Wellington, March02


"Brighton Komedia Review"

Review of performance 28 May 2001 at Komedia, Brighton

Vocal Baobab
Traditonal Cuban rumba is more than just a performance, but it’s often hard to find it with the spirit of the street. From Havana, Vocal Baobab not only have the vocal and musical dynamic as their name would suggest, but they also have the dance. It is their main man Ramón who is the wild card. He can jump blindfold around a bottle of rum without knocking it over or drinking from it! But he is not an acrobat - rather a skilful dancer who conjures up sheer excitement in the audience from the vitality and essential presence of the 7-piece group. Singing both in Spanish and Yoruba, their set includes traditional material, including chants from the Afro-Cuban Santeria, and the contemporary elements of rap and reggae. If you missed their last tour, don't do yourself a disservice next time around!
DJ Ashanti (John Warr) - Salsatap/Ashanti 2001


Discography

Yoruba Dream (Sueno Yoruba) afro-cuban chants
ARC Music, EUCD 1965 , rel Nov 2005
Spirit of Cuba DVD/video, dir Charles Wood, Salsatap.com, rel 2002

Photos

Bio

Singing in Spanish and Yoruban, the eight performers of Vocal Baobab present a repertoire that brings out the afro in afrocuban, tracing a line from their African roots through to the full spectrum of Cuban rhythms of the dance halls and contemporary afro Caribbean and afro american street culture. At the heart of their work are the Afro-Cuban chants, dedicated to the Afro-Cuban orishas (gods or saints) of the Santeria religions; and rumba, the true heartbeat of Cuba, featuring the daily events of life, love and death. Their electric performances never fail to connect with their audiences.

Vocal Baobab began in 1994, receiving support from several prestigious experts on Cuban culture, especially the Yoruba Akpón (soloist) Lázaro Ros, with whose group Olorún Vocal Baobab’s Director Ramón first sang. Regularly featured at some of Havana’s most prestigious venues, including Sabado de Rumba at the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, they have made frequent appearances at festivals all over the island, including the Festival de Rumba, PerCuba and Cubadisco (all in Havana). Featured on Cuban television and radio, they have been applauded by numerous esteemed Cuban cultural authorities, as well as musical legends Compay Segundo,and Changuito. and stars of today such as Mario Rivera. Their 10th Anniversary concert at the Sabado de Rumba featured a collaboration with the young rap group Ancestros., and they were a big hit in the live programme of Cubadisco 2008 and the Wemileres.

International appearances include their tour to the 2002 New Zealand Festival where they were a major hit, playing to full houses, including the Out & About Festival. They made their UK debut in April/May 2001, opening at the La Linea Festival in London’s Royal Festival Hall and then touring countrywide to a range of festivals and venues. They appeared at the Festival Marin Village in Martinique in August 2003 – where they were declared “the explosion of the Festival” - and made a further successful tour to the UK in the autumn including the Big Big World Festival in Glasgow.

Other international Festivals include the Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, USA in August 2000 where they also made a major impact, playing to capacity audiences and rapturous acclaim: and extensive participation in the Cuban Cultural Week in Portugal in Spring 1998, including live radio sessions. Vocal Baobab also conducted highly successful programmes of workshops and master-classes in association with the UK and USA tours.

Vocal Baobab and their music appear in the compelling film documentaries by Afro-Cuban Director and Producer Gloria Rolando. A video/DVD Spirit of Cuba directed by Charles Wood of Salsatap, filmed on location in the UK, was released in 2002. The CD of Afro-Cuban Chants Sueño Yoruba/Yoruba Dream recorded in Havana was released by the UK label ARC Music in 2005, and attracted good reviews and air time in the USA and Europe (including World Routes and Andy Kershaw on BBC Radio 3). A further