Cubanismo!'s Jesus Alemany

Cubanismo!'s Jesus Alemany

by Natasha Nargis
copyright © 2000 Natasha Nargis

Tuesday October 24, 2000

In this recent interview, Jesus Alemany, the band's leader, spokesperson, and trumpeter talks about his newest CD, Mardi Gras Mambo: Cubanismo! In New Orleans (Hannibal Records, 2000).

NN: Tell me about Mardi Gras Mambo.

JA: The idea came originally from our producer, Mr. Joe Boyd. He proposed to me to come to New Orleans to put this project together. But before we started to do the recordings he brought a couple of the musicians from New Orleans to Havana. We met there to discuss the music that we were going to record.

We decided to take some of the original compositions from New Orleans and turn them into a Cuban style and play with background rhythms. The others are original compositions. It's a nice combination of traditional songs that were popular at some point in the history of the music of New Orleans combined with Cuban rhythms [cha cha cha, mambo, son, danzon].

NN: I just love this new CD. It's fabulous. Do you have any favorite cuts?

JA: Thank you. No, to be honest I like all the songs. Maybe <>Boogaloo, Shallow Water Suite, Mother-In-Law.They are my three favorite songs on the record. But in general I enjoy it all. We are really pleased with the recording.

NN: How is this tour going?

JA: It's going very well. We have had the opportunity to bring two of the singers from New Orleans, John Boutte and Terry Degruy, to some of the shows, and to give the audiences the opportunity to listen to the music on this latest CD. It was released at the end of August. So far the response has been very good. The audience grows each time that we perform. People dance with us, people sing with us.

NN: Will John Boutte sing with you at the Paramount?

JA: Maybe. The problem is that when we organized this tour the record wasn't out yet, so most of these concerts we had to arrange previously. At that time we didn't know when the record was going to be released. He has his own band, so we have to wait and see. So far he has done some shows with us, and we hope he's going to come for the end of the tour.

NN: Will anybody else from New Orleans be performing with you at the Paramount?

JA: Yes, the singer named Terry Degruy.

NN: How long have you been touring in the U.S.?

JA: We've been touring for four years now. This is the band that is touring in the U.S.A. more than any other Cuban band. Last year we did a tour for about 4 months, and this year we are extending it a little bit.

NN: I hear that New Orleans and Havana are similar cities. Have you found that to be true?

JA: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. The musical environment is pretty much the same. In Havana there's an area in the oldest part of the city where we have a lot of bars with live music. People have the opportunity to go out and listen to traditional music. It's similar to the French Quarter in New Orleans. In general the ambience of both cities is similar.

NN: I'm looking froward to seeing you at the Paramount. I've heard your CDs -- but it's really different hearing live music.

JA: Yeah. Live is much better, obviously. There's a lot of energy. We encourage the audience to sing and dance with us. It's more exciting. The record is nice, but it's different from the live performance. I prefer the live performance, honestly.

Natasha Nargis produces and hosts JAZZ ET AL Fridays on KSFR 9-noon.

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