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Cuba based rap duo, Zona Franka, blends traditional rhythms with the grit and swagger of hip-hop and rap vocal phrasings. Their clever shout choruses create instant tropical dance classics using their unique self-titled "changui con flow" style.
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Amadito Valdés - 2003 - Amadito Valdés Interview, p. 3

TA: What do you think accounts for the success of that record and the revival of the music?

AV: One of the main important things is that the market was full of the Salsa sound, and the people wanted to know the roots of Salsa, where salsa had come from.

TA: Well, what happened to the music between the 50's and the 90's?

AV: From the 60's, due to the (US) embargo, political matters, our music was taken away from the international market. And then due to the circumstances, Salsa comes up, the Salsa movement. But in the beginning, it was the very same Cuban music, but with another label: Salsa. And then Salsa got developed up to these days, and that is what we are listening to now.

TA: Somebody wrote to me to my website that there is no such thing as Salsa in Cuban music. That is not a term that even applies to Cuban music. He said that I shouldn't call the music in Cuba Salsa. How would you comment on that?

AV: If there is something we can give thanks to and appreciate from the Salsa movement, the Cuban music was heard and everybody listened to it. It was of the Salsa movement. Everybody who was listening to that music knew that it was Cuban music.

TA: The label started in New York City in the 70's as I understand.

AV: Yes, the music was playing in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco by Puerto Ricans, Columbians, Panamanians, etc. Everybody started to call it Salsa because there was a guy, Jerry Masucci, who was indeed the creator of that movement. Different themes and genres such as Son were given the name of Salsa.

TA: What is common to all Salsa music from all those places?

AV: The instruments that are used, mainly the percussion instruments.

TA: I have always thought that the rhythm concept of Clave was common to all Salsa music. Clave is the main rhythmic concept, the thread.

AV: The Cuban Clave. It is one of the things.

TA: Clave is not even the most important thing?

AV: You could say that Clave is the basic cell of the rhythm of the Caribbean.

TA: When I interviewed Chuchito in December, I asked him if there was any questions he had. He had one question. He said, why in New York is there much false history about Cuban music, mistaken interpretation. He gave an example. He said why in New York do the call this Clave pattern 3-2 (claps the following 16 beat pattern)

Ti / / ti / / / ti / / ti / ti / / /

When Chuchito interpreted that as 2-3.

[Editor's Note: See "The Four Great Clave Debates", Debate #2]

AV: There is only one Clave. The harmonic and melodic concept, you have to play the Cuban music with Clave first and then support those concepts.

TA: So it doesn't matter what you call it?

AV: Everything has to be supported by Clave. Clave is only one. When the composer writes "2-3", it is for the timbale player to know to start clave as 2-3, but it doesn't matter whether it is 2-3 or 3-2.

TA: If I was going to write a piece of music, and it would start with that Clave pattern (repeats) would it be 3-2 or 2-3? How would I notate it for the musicians in New York?

AV: That would be 3-2. Son Clave or Rumba Clave, it's the same divided into 2 &. This is not a lecture about Clave.

TA: I know. I was just curious how you would answer Chuchito's question.

AV: In the end, it's the same Clave. What you have to do is, you have to take into account what is going on above the Clave. Most of the tumbaos in Son Montuno start with the Clave 2-3. When great composers write music, like Juan De Marcos, Emilio Rivera, and others, those great musicians, the first thing that they wrote was the Clave. Then from that moment on they made the other notations. There are very ancient songs that are crossed with the Clave.

OM: Cuban music can be danced in 2 ways, down beat and up beat. You can dance Son Tiempo (down beat) and Contra Tiempo (up beat). I dance very well. When I am tired, I dance Contra Tiempo. When I want to speed up, I dance Tiempo.

TA: But the Clave is the same either way. Yes?

AV: There is only the one Clave.

TA: I have a question for Manolito. What role does Cuban music play in the tourism industry? How important is it to tourism?

M: It is very important. It is one of the main elements. It goes beyond the sun and the beach. It has to do a lot with the ambiance, the people, and one of the personal way of doing what you want to do is the dance, showing your feelings and enjoying yourself. In the very same way we say hello, we love each other. It is an expression, a part of life, our way of dancing, we touch each other, and the music puts all of that into movement. Right now, there is a big dance production from London and New York that has made a big choreography incorporating Cuban culture. The director is Carlos Acosta. He dances in New York at the American Ballet Theater and in London at the Royal Theater. He is one of the best in the world in classical ballet, contemporary ballet, folkloric music, all genres.

TA: They are performing here now?

M: This week and next on Saturday and Sunday.

TA: (To Teresita) What plans do you have for the future?

TG: My CD, and then to spread it throughout the whole world, on tour.

TA: Hopefully you can come to St. Louis.

TG: This time, we'll perform at the Arch in St. Louis (laughing)

TA: You can go up in the Arch in a little elevator and look down at the people on the street.

TG: I am afraid to do that.

TA: (To Amadito) What do you think of modern Cuban music, especially Timba?

AV: It is interesting music, with a mixture of rap, jazz, songo and other elements. It's a mixture of everything

TA: Do you like it?

AV: Yes, but just a little, half an hour. It's very explosive.

TA: We were listening to El Médico from Miami at Teresita's house. The young people were enjoying it.

AV: Yes, that's the way.

Amadito has an excellent website at He can be contacted at this site and is available for private instruction and workshops in Cuban percussion. Anyone who is interested in learning more about travel to Cuba to encounter music and to arrange for private instruction with Amadito or others can contact Thor Anderson at

© Thor Anderson 2003

Tuesday, 22 March 2011, 07:32 PM