The first thing that struck me was the adjective "controversial" with which the Miami El Nuevo Herald described the band Los Van Van, which soon will be given two concerts in Miami and one in Puerto Rico, preparatory for some six dozens of presentations starting this coming May.
Juan Formell, who in 1969 created the so-called "train of the Cuban music", has done nothing but good music, and has been the chronicler of the realities of the island and the islanders during the last forty years.
“We came here to do our music,” the head of the flagship 25-member group said to the daily, hours after his arrival in the U.S.
The tour, according to the Herald, “has provoked strong criticism from some exiles." The usual suspects. It reamins to be seen if, albeit secretly, Ileana Ross or the neurotic Diaz-Balart, don’t try their dancing steps when they listen to “Marilú”, “Chapeando” o “El negro no tiene ná”… in the midst of refreshing drinks of Havana Club and smoking Cohiba cigars.
Diaz-Balart himself, as part of his stagnant and traditionalist rhetoric, said: “The visit is an unjustified decision of President Obama to the anti-American and terrorist dictatorship” ... to which Formell could answer: “No tires esa bola extraña y déjate de cuento conmigo”. (Do not throw that strange ball to me and stop bullsh…me).
Juan Formell, 67, thanked the US government for issuing the visas, the last ones dating back to 2003. “Now there are more young people in Miami with a different mentality, and is very good contact with the public to know how far they accept or not Los Van Van”, added the Herald.
Other local media in Miami have been speculating whether there will be verbal or physical aggression against the Grammy-winner orchestra.
Formell, born in 1957, bass player, arranger and band director, worked for different groups including the Havana Libre Hotel Jazz Band, then he did it with the prominent changüisero Elio Reve and after a while, he founded Los Van Van , an popular music band in which stars like Pupy Cesar Pedroso, José Luis Quintana (Changuito), and Pedrito Calvo , among other outstanding instrumentalists and singers have played.
Born in Havana, on August 2nd 1942, Formell is the most important creator of popular dance music in the last four decades.
Each release of the popular band becomes a hit. It will only take a few names to refresh your memory: “El negro está cocinando, El buena gente, La fruta, Después que te casaste, Será que se acabó, Fallaste al sacar tu cuenta, Tranquilo Mota”…
The Cuban artist is included among the leaders of Latin American dance music, along Rubén Blades, Juan Luis Guerra and others. Among his most important creations are songo and timba since they are rhythms that have revolutionized the musical universe in the region.
His musical conception transformed in completely Charanga Tipica when he incorporated electronic instruments like the bass guitar, keyboards, bass and replaced the acoustic piano, the cauldron by the battery, the five-key flute for the system one and amplified the violins and cello.
With such unique sound he has achieved a unique sonority while adding innovative
arrangements and allowing a vocal work never heard before.
According to the La Peña specialized website, Formell is considered the Cuban music historian since he has had the virtue and talent to take on the everyday life, the flow of popular sayings, the playfulness, the double meaning and freshness of nature and the taste of his people, turning those experiences and qualities into melodies, lyrics and harmonies, which have been enjoyed by several generations of Cubans.
No wonder, then, that the shuffling of the Ross and Diaz-Balart is given by the "political impossibility" of attending Formell presentations, but the digital magic will take them to their private places where, sure enough, they will move their feet and hips to the unfading Los Van Van music, between glasses of rum and cigars from the Island. It will be their loss. (acn).