Entertainment Magazine

Interview with Mista Savona

Posted on the 23 February 2018 by Tomatrax @TomatraxAU

The HAVANA MEETS KINGSTON 15 piece Super Group will make their debut live appearances in Australia and New Zealand in March 2018. Playing dates at WOMADelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and WOMAD NZ.

A live sound clash with a difference, bringing roots reggae, dub and dancehall together with son, salsa and rumba The HAVANA MEETS KINGSTON band boasts a world-class lineup of musicians: the legendary rhythm section of SLY & ROBBIE (JA) and Band Leader MISTA SAVONA - Keys (AU), are joined by BARBARITO TORRES - Tres/Laud (CU)and ROLANDO LUNA - Piano (CU) from the Buena Vista Social Club, JULITO PADRON from Irakere - Trumpets/Vocals (CU), YAROLDY ABREU from Chucho Valdes - Percussion (CU), RANDY VALENTINE - Vocals (JA/UK), BRENDA NAVARETTE - Vocals/Percussion (CU), SOLIS - Vocals (CU), BOPEE from Inna de Yard - Guitar (JA), OLIVER VALDES - Percussion (CU) and a supporting Australian Horn section.

Tomatrax caught up with Mista Savona, the mastermind behind the album, to ask a few questions.

The album pairs paired legendary and emerging Cuban and Jamaican musicians to re-imagine classic songs and create new compositions, how did this collaboration come about?

I had traveled many times to Jamaica, but this was my first trip to Cuba (back in 2014). I was sitting in a cafe in Havana in Cuba, a great place called Chanchurello. They were playing a CD of rumba music (tradition Cuban music), mainly percussion based. I was daydreaming and imagining how the sounds of Nyabinghi drums from Jamaica would sound mixed with the rumba. I realised it would be very special to mix the two styles, and wondered if it had ever been done before. When I returned to Australia I did some research, and realised there had never been a project bringing Jamaican musicians into Cuba (or vice versa). So I started to think how it could be done.

The music mixes with Jamaican reggae and dance-hall with traditional Cuban and Afro-Cuban rhythms, was it hard to get the different sounds and styles to work together?

A focus was on bringing Jamaican sound system culture together with Afro-Cuban jazz and rhythmic influences. Think rolling baselines and virtuosic percussion, piano and horns. Although the islands have different languages, musical aesthetics and traditions, the fusion works amazingly well. This is a heavy sound on the record and actually works easily & beautifully. Check the first single 'Carnival' and the B-side 'Carnival Horns' for a taste! I also wanted to focus on their sublime musicianship - these guys are real masters. This album is all about the performances, and less on the post-production which I've kept as simple and natural as possible. You could argue that contemporary music is becoming increasingly sterile, with the focus in pretty much all genres now on post-production and auto-tuned (synthesised) vocal performances, which I believe actually stifle & repress deeper human expression. For me music should be about uplifting people, not brainwashing them.

The band has 15 members, is it hard to manage a band with so many people involved?

These guys are all legends and there is a huge amount of respect between members. It's a massive project and tour, but luckily I have a great team doing all the hard organisational stuff. My focus is on the music.

You previously put out the album Melbourne meets Kingston, how did this combining these styles compare with your current work?

Without even realising it, my 2004 album 'Melbourne Meets Kingston' was definitely the 'Havana Meets Kingston' younger brother (by about ten years). It gave me the confidence to record and travel and work with musicians all over the world. This new project fusing Jamaican and Cuban musical styles is far more ambitious though, and is my favourite endevour to date.

Are you planning on any other musical/city collaborations of this nature?

Yes! I have some amazing ideas, but they're on the down low for now.

You're about to take your band around Australia and New Zealand, what can fans expect from your show?

Full power! The band is made up of absolute legends - the rhythm section from Jamaica is Sly & Robbie, we have Barbarito Toerres (Laud) and Roldando Luna (piano) both from Buena Vista Social Club. Add a heavy percussion section of Yaroldy Abreu (Irakere), Oliver Valdes (Interactivo) and Brenda Navarette (also an amazing singer and rapper), as well as the beautiful trumpet of Julito Padron (Havana Cultura), guitar of Bopee (Inna De Yard) and vocals from Solis, Randy Valentine and Brenda...plus some dancers from Havana...trust me, this show is going to be like nothing else on Earth.

You've appeared on releases from artists such as TZU and Diafrix, how does making a guest appearance compare with making your own record?

I love collaboration the most. It brings new things out of people. Anyway, all my projects are about collaboration! I'm not interested in solo bedroom producing...

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Absolutely. I'm a DJ too, and if my own music doesn't rock a crowd then I know it still needs work. Thankfully I'm at a level now in which I can really enjoy hearing my own songs, even after 10,000 edits in a studio.

What other music do you listen to?

Everything from jazz, blues, world and electronic styles, particularly bass orientated.

What do you have planned after this upcoming tour?

It's a massive Australian tour in March, followed by a trip to Cuba and Japan and then a full scale Europe tour. Can't wait! As well as the first album 'Havana Meets Kingston' being released later this year, we have a film planned for 2018 alongside the release of the second album. So much good music to come!

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • The Watchmen Live At The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto

    Watchmen Live Danforth Music Hall, Toronto

    The Watchmen came to Toronto on Friday night, taking over The Danforth Music Hall and putting on a show to kick-off the weekend. It's been 30 years since The... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   Phjoshua
  • Cornstarch Christmas Ornaments

    Cornstarch Christmas Ornaments

    Since we moved to our new house it's pretty hard to find things. Lots of boxes are still packed and at a storage unit. We moved at Christmas last year so I... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   Kalamitykelli
  • Silverstein Live At The Opera House, Toronto

    Silverstein Live Opera House, Toronto

    Silverstein rolled into a hometown Toronto show Saturday night at The Opera House and was greeted by a sold-out crowd eagerly waiting to scream back every singl... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   Phjoshua
  • The Hedonistic Taster: Troon Vineyard

    Hedonistic Taster: Troon Vineyard

    The Hedonistic Taster Troon Vineyard – Applegate Valley, Oregon by L.M. Archer “Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   L.m. Archer
  • George Bancroft: What a Star, What a Character!

    George Bancroft: What Star, Character!

    Big, blustery George Bancroft was in his mid-40s when he became a film star, breaking out in 1927 with a linchpin performance as mob boss "Bull Weed" in... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   Lady Eve
  • Vegetable Oils: What We Know and What We Don’t

    Vegetable Oils: What Know Don’t

    They're everywhere. Like a crude oil spill in the Gulf, vegetable oils - those slippery, modern elixirs - have seeped their way into all the nooks and crannies... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   Dietdoctor
  • Getting to Know the Neighbors

    A few days ago, the doorbell rang. When I asked who was there (the camera view wasn't showing anyone), a high voice asked, "Is Joseph come out play?""Joseph,"... Read more

    The 16 December 2018 by   Sherwoods