Iconic places and their soundtracks: Havana, Cuba
HAVANA, Aug 5 — There are a handful of iconic places in the world that should be visited at least once in a lifetime. They have always had a particular draw, attracting waves of visitors every year. They have inspired novels, poems, songs and films, and become icons. Relaxnews has compiled a playlist of music that is quintessential to each of these iconic destinations.
Havana is one of the largest and most vivacious cities in the Caribbean. Five centuries of political struggle have given this city a distinctive flavor. From Spanish colonialism to American mafia presence, the city is a mixture of cultural heritages with its classic American cars (a result of the US trade embargo) and ration shops — a manifestation of communist economic and social policies.
The city attracts more than one million visitors a year, and the crystalline waters of the Caribbean along the dramatic coastline are one of its main attractions. To get the essence of the city, walk around the neighbourhoods of Centro Habana or Vedado. Take a guided tour around La Habana Vieja to view the colonial monuments and have a stroll along the Malecon without missing a visit to the Parque Central.
The citizens of La Habana are known for their warm spirit. Habaneros are responsible for creating musical styles such as salsa, Son Cubano and mambo as well as mojito cocktails and Havana cigars.
The city of rhythm, mojitos and all-night dancing has inspired sounds unique to the island and produced musicians who are recognized and revered around the world.
01. Buena Vista Social Club — “Chan Chan” (1997)
Named after a members club in Havana, the Buena Vista Social Club band was comprised of members who had performed at the original club, and the album sparked an international revival of interest in Cuba music.
02. Enrique Jorrin — “La Enganadora” (1951)
Cuban composer, violinist and band director Enrique Jorrin is widely accredited with inventing the popular Cuban dance style Cha-cha-chá.
03. Ruben Gonzalez — “Rico Vacilon” (2000)
Cuban pianist and member of the Buena Vista Social Club Ruben Gonzalez released this version of “Rico Vacilon” in 2000.
04. Perez Prado — “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” (1955)
Cuban bandleader Perez Pradon, sometimes called the King of Jazz, topped the US charts for 10 weeks with this Cha-cha version of the popular 1950s song “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” by Louiguy.
05. Xavier Cugat — “Cocktails for Two” (1963)
Xavier Cugat, born in Catalonia, Spain, spent much of his formative years in Havana, Cuba, and was a major influence in bringing Latin music into mainstream US culture.
06. Celia Cruz — “Azucar Negra” (1993)
With 23 gold albums under her belt, Cuban-American Celia Cruz [1925-2003] was regarded by many as the “Queen of Salsa.”
07. Tacabro — “Tacata” (2012)
This 2012 hit from Italian group Tacabro features Cuban artist Martinez Rodriguez as the main vocalist.
08. Los Van Van — “Havana City” (2000)
Los Van Van are led by bassist Juan Formell and are arguably one of the most recognizable post-revolution bands. “Havana City” appeared on their Grammy Award winning album “Van Van Is Here” or “Llego Van Van.”
09. Nat King Cole — “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” (1958)
This popular song was originally composed by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farres and was later covered by Nat King Cole.
10. Ibrahim Ferrer — “Nuestra Ultima Cita” (1999)
Cuban-born Ibrahim Ferrer performed with a number of musical groups including the Orquesta Chepin-Choven, the Afro-Cuban All Stars and later the Buena Vista Social Club. — AFP/Relaxnews