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Los Van Van is a Cuban band led by bassist Juan Formell, it is one of the most recognized post-revolution Cuban bands, while Juan Formell has arguably become the most important figure in contemporary Cuban music.

Contents

History

In 1967, Formell became musical director of Elio Reve's charanga orchestra. He reformatted the group into Changui '68, and then founded his own group, Los Van Van, on December 4, 1969.

Musical style

Using a charanga line-up as its base, Van Van added trombones and vocals, and was the first Cuban group to use synthesizers and drum machines. Their sound was a fusion of changui and son montuno with various types of music, including Afro-Cuban rhythms, rock, funk, disco, and hip hop. Juan Formell contributed countless innovations to the Cuban bass and clave, which paved the way for a radical reconceptualisation of rhythmic arrangements in Cuban music. The Van Van sound came to be known as songo (based on the songo rhythm), which laid the base for the later development of timba.

Los Van Van has consistently managed to adapt its style to the times, and remains, after 35 years, Cuba's most popular dance band. Along with pianist Cesar "Pupy" Pedroso, Juan Formell has written some of the most intriguing verses in popular dance music, including stories that run over several albums and, contrary to trends in timba, all types of social commentary. Both artists are undisputed masters of double-entendre in a musical culture where multiple meanings in lyrics are pervasive. Indeed, the title of the band is probably meant to evoke the novel and compelling rhythms of the new sound of Formell's band, as "van" in Spanish means "they go" and so the name of the band could be translated as "those they go, they go" (it has also been suggested to translate as their name as something like "the go-goes!"). When Cesar "Pupy" Pedroso, their legendary pianist and founding member, left the band in 2002 he founded his own band "Pupy y los que son son," which is likely a name with a triple-entendre. The word "son" can mean both "they are" and also refers to the traditional form of music "son," originating in the eastern provinces of Cuba, from which modern "salsa" takes it's form. The third meaning, is of course a reference back to his roots in Los Van Van.

Awards

The band has a Grammy Award to their credit, the 2000 Latin Grammy awarded to the album "Van Van is Here" (Llegó Van Van).

In January 2010 "A Cali," a song from Van Van's latest album was selected as one of the winning songs of the 2009 Cali Fair held in Cali (Colombia). The selection was made through a public poll that registered 30,742 votes. Van Van's "A Cali" received 7,905 of the votes, or 26% of the total.

Notable personnel

Los Van Van has been a school for outstanding singers and musicians. Past members with successful careers as solo artists include Pedro Calvo, Angel Bonne, Changuito, Cesar "Pupy" Pedroso and others. As of 2006, Los Van Van probably have the best lineup of singers for a Cuba band composed of; Mayito Rivera, Roberto Hernandez "Roberton", Yeni Valdes and Lele Rosales.

Discography

  • Los Van Van Vol I (1969)
  • Los Van Van Vol II (1974)
  • Los Van Van Vol III (1974)
  • Los Van Van Vol IV (1976)
  • Los Van Van Vol V (1976)
  • Los Van Van Vol VI (1980)
  • Báilalo ¡Eh! ¡Ah! (1982)
  • Qué Pista (1983)
  • Anda, Ven y Muévete (1984)
  • 25 Años... y seguimos ahí! Vol I (1994)
  • La Habana Sí (1985)
  • Eso Que Anda (1986)
  • La Titimania (1987)
  • Songo (1988)
  • El Negro No Tiene Na' (1988)
  • Songo (Mango, 1989)
  • Rico Son (1989)
  • Aqui... El Que Baila Gana (1990)
  • Esto Está Bueno (1991)
  • De Cuba Los Van Van (1991)
  • Bailando Mojao - Dancing Wet (1993)
  • Azúcar (Xenophile Records, 1993)
  • Lo Ultimo En Vivo (Qbadisc Records, 1994)
  • ¡Ay Dios, Ampárame! (1996)
  • Live In America (1997)
  • Te Pone La Cabeza Mala (1997)
  • Llegó Van Van (1999)
  • En El Malecón De La Habana (2003)
  • Chapeando (2005)
  • Live From Camagüey (2009)
  • Arrasando (2009)
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