Home » Jazz Articles » Bill Laswell and Sacred System: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Hav...

201
Album Review

Bill Laswell and Sacred System: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Havana

By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Laswell and Sacred System: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Havana
This is “piecemeal” music, spliced together in a studio by Bill Laswell to present a sound–picture of modern–day Havana, Cuba. It’s world music, not Jazz, and how well the enterprise succeeds is, we presume, in the ear of the beholder. Laswell has been called (by Billboard magazine) “way ahead of his time.” He may be well ahead of mine too. Laswell painted his Cuban portrait by organizing a series of location recordings in the studios, streets and back rooms of Havana, then using the tapes as a basis for state–of–the–art multi–track mixing and mastering — a method, we are told, that won him wide praise for such earlier endeavors as Apocalypse Across the Sky by the Master Musicians of Jajouka and Night Spirit Masters by the Gnawa Musicians of Marrakesh. If you’ve heard either of them you’ll have an idea of what to expect from Imaginary Cuba. As the Latin motif predominates, it’s rather surprising to hear the brief track 3, which consists of the standard “Stars Fell on Alabama” played on piano. A change of pace? Definitely. But hardly out of place, as Cuban pianists do play American popular songs as well as their own (or did before the advent of Castro). In sum, what we hear is a series of musical vignettes that may (or may not) evoke the spirit of Havana (we’ve never been there) but don’t hang together seamlessly. The common denominator, if indeed there is one, lies in the ever–present and always–captivating Latin rhythms, which must carry the day, as melody and harmony are in rather short supply. Recommended to those with an adventurous disposition who appreciate music that forswears the beaten path.

Track listing: Habana Transmission #1: Avisale a la Vecina; Para Clave Guagunaco; Loungin’ with F.E.; Chacón and Daniel; Déjala en la Puntica; Habana Transmission #2: Cuban Evolution; Los Ibellis; Habana Transmission #3: Shango Sound Scan; Hombre Lobo, No! Hombre Nuevo, Si!; Guerrillero Heróico; Shanga; Pompa at the House; Madre no me Pida; Chaos in the Heat (Last Transmission); Drafting Shadows/Leaving la Habana (57:17).

Personnel

unlisted.

Album information

Title: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Havana | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Wicklow


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter Since 1995, shortly after the dawn of the internet, All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Jazz Is Dead 14
Henry Franklin
With Grace In Mind
Dreamstruck
One Of The Others
Taurey Butler
Times Like These
Nica Carrington

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.