Arts & Culture

Rare live music Cuban band Orquesta Akokán July 8 at Buffalo Iron Works

Critically-acclaimed as one of the best albums of 2018, Orquesta Akokán‘s self-titled debut release for the venerable soul label Daptone Records — the label’s first Spanish language album — is a transformative and modern mambo recording that exquisitely captures the spirit of pre-revolutionary Cuba by today’s foremost Cuban musicians. The powerhouse big band collective returns to the United States for its biggest tour to date, following its recent blockbuster sets at NYC’s globalFEST and a headlining performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. In June & July 2019, Orquesta Akokán gets audiences up on their feet for raucous dance parties at a series of venerable venues throughout the West Coast, Southwest, the Rockies, the South, and East Coast. A list of all forthcoming Orquesta Akokán tour dates is below.

Hailing straight out of Havana, Cuba, Orquesta Akokán is a fierce orchestra of deeply soulful mambo reminiscent of Benny MoréPérez Prado, and La Banda Gigante of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Orquesta Akokán boasts an all-original lineup of compositions recorded at the historic state-run Estudios Areito with a multi-generational cast of Cuba’s finest players. The album is led by the inimitable singer José “Pepito” Gómez with incendiary arrangements by Michael Eckroth, and it was produced by Chulo Records’ Jacob Plasse. The ferocious wind and rhythm sections of Orquesta Akokán consist of musicians from storied groups including Irakere, NG La Banda, and Los Van Van. Robust, time-tested musical architectures of son cubano and mambo are honored and contemporized through a synthesis of the rich compositional styles of Havana, New York, and beyond.

NPR hails Orquesta Akokán as harnessing, “a groove as intense as a runaway train.” The blazing hot collection of originals quickly caught the attention of critics across the globe with more than a dozen “Best Albums of 2018” nods and award nominations, including a GRAMMY Award nomination for “Best Tropical Latin Album.” Among the media outlets touting Orquesta Akokán on their “Best Of” lists are NPR’s alt.Latino, PRI’s “The World,” The Sunday Times, and others. In addition to the GRAMMY’s, award nominations were acknowledged by the“2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards” and “2018 Latin American Music Awards,” and Orquesta Akokán won a “2019 Songlines Music Award — Americas.” 

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News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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