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SXSW 2008 has ended
Thursday, March 13 • 9:30pm - 10:00pm
Alex Cuba

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Few musicians who've just turned thirty can look back on a career as a performing artist that spans more than 25 years. But Cuban multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer Alexis Puentes is unique in many ways. He possesses both an encyclopaedic knowledge of the indigenous genres of the Caribbean island - from Afro-Cuban rumba to musica campesina - and a mature understanding of contemporary jazz and Latin pop. He writes and arranges his own songs in a style that draws on all of the above musical idioms, and more, in innovative ways. He sings with a distinctive, lightly-smoky, voice and plays electric and stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, tres, and a wealth of percussion. Alexis and his non-identical twin Adonis were born in 1974 in the town of Artemisa, some 60 km from Havana. Their father Valentín Puentes is a guitarist by trade, and at home the brothers were completely immersed in the very best of Cuban music and were members of the family band from the time they were tots. Alexis learned to play guitar when 6, and took up the bass at 14. Upon completing school Alexis went into the army, then teamed up with father and brother in the quintet Los Puentes, playing mainly Cuban songs. Alexis, as musical director and bass player with the band, ventured abroad, touring Canada for the first time in 1995. When he returned, Alexis worked in the jazz band Temperamento with ace pianist Roberto Fonseca (now a member of the Buena Vista Social Club Band) before moving to Canada in 1999. Soon afterwards Alexis and Adonis (who was living in Canada) formed the Alex Cuba Band, playing mainly Cuban songs, increasingly coloured by influences from their new homeland. In 2000 the twins became The Puentes Brothers and recorded the superb Morumba Cubana, which included seven original songs from Alexis, and two cowritten with Adonis. The album received a Juno nomination in 2001 and garnered both a West Coast Music Award and a National Independent Music Award. The Puentes Brothers toured Canada, playing all the major folk and jazz festivals. But while the twins continue to help one another, early in 2003 they decided to wind up the band - for the time being anyway - to embark on their own projects. You can hear the wealth of experience and the innovative twist Alexis gives to Latin music on Humo de Tabaco, the Alex Cuba Band's debut disc, recorded in Havana's celebrated Egrem Studios an album that also garnered him a Juno Award (Canada's Grammy equivalent) in 2006 for Best World Music Album. Now living in the tiny town of Smithers, B.C., 14 hours north of Vancouver; seems as far removed as one can possibly be from any hot bed of Cuban culture. And that's precisely why Alex Cuba (Alexis Puentes) is making some of the most innovative and original Cuban-inspired music in the world today. Distanced from the "Havana scene" and its competitive preoccupation with "academic" complexity, Puentes says Canada has allowed him to make the music he's always wanted to make – characterized by moving compositions, expressive vocals and beautifully understated arrangements that compliment the songs rather than overpowering them. His new CD, Agua del Pozo, marks the first time Puentes has truly captured his vision on CD. It features heartfelt lyrics, intimate accompaniment, and some seriously soulful singing. Puentes keeps the "background music" in check on Agua del Pozo so that his "golden voice" remains the centerpiece. He attributes his ear for arranging to the fact that he was a musician long before he turned to singing and songwriter. Puentes recorded Agua del Pozo with young Victoria producer, Joby Baker (the Bills, Rachel Van Zanten). Part of the recording was done at the legendary Egrem studio in Havana and is the follow-up to Puentes' solo debut, Humo de Tabaco.
http://2008.sxsw.com/music/showcases/band/1396.html

Thursday March 13, 2008 9:30pm - 10:00pm
Copa 217 Congress Ave

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