The Afro-Cuban All Stars is a unique orchestra that has always been devoted to promoting the full range of Cuban music, one that embraces several generations and all musical styles. Over the years many of the band’s musicians have become international stars, including brilliant performers such as Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer, Guillermo Rubalcava, and Manuel "The Guajiro" Mirabal.
The genesis of the Afro-Cuban All Stars has its roots early in the 1990s. At this time the son ensemble Sierra Maestra, headed by Juan de Marcos, received a lot of international exposure. As a consequence, de Marcos was introduced to Nick Gold, president of World Music Records (at that time a small independent world music label). That encounter led to a couple of very successful tours in Europe. Later the group went to London and recorded Dundumbanza, considered one of the jewels of the world music scene of the early ‘90s. (In retrospect, this recording opened the doors to the further incredible boom of the traditional Cuban music of the period.)
After several years of tremendous and unexpected success – including four Grammy nominations, being the subject of several documentaries and films, and being recipients of many other distinctions – the All Stars are certainly the best-known and successful Cuban orchestra after Los Van Van and Irakere.
The Afro-Cuban All Stars has also opened the doors to a new generation by incorporating young musicians into the band. With The Afro-Cuban All Stars, de Marcos has developed a concept moreso than simply creating a band. His approach has allowed him to expand its creative range by incorporating contemporary styles of Cuban music; as well, a fluid approach to adjusting the orchestra’s line-up by changing or adding musicians as appropriate has made it easier to best reflect the different styles of music from the various periods that the band features. The Afro-Cubans are the same orchestra that can be seen in those distinct performances captured in the famous Oscar-nominated Buena Vista Social Club documentary by Wim Wenders, the Tony Knox documentary Salon of Dreams, or the DVDs Live in Japan orLive in The Hague.
The recent plans for the Afro-Cuban All Stars include the recording this year of the albums Breaking the Rules & Step Backward. This documents de Marcos’ latest project, where he has gathered the most remarkable expatriate Cuban musicians from around the world. This new version of the Afro-Cuban All Stars started touring internationally from February 2009 and its debut was in the United States, Singapore and Canada.
Current Line Up:
Igort Rivas - Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Yaure Muniz - Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Miguelito Valdes de la Hoz - Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Albeto "Molote" Munoz - Trombone
Jorge Reiner Ardiles - Trombone
Calixto Oviedo - Timbale & Drums
Miguelito Valdes Aballi - Congas
Jose "Pepito" Espinosa -Percussion
Gabriel Hernandez - Piano
Alberto Pantaleon - Bass
Evelio Galan - Lead Singer
Emilio Suarez - Lead Singer
Jose Gilito Pinera - Lead Singer
Laura Lydia Gonzalez - Clarinet
Gliceria Gonzalez - Keyboards & Coros