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Jose Conde Joins the Legendary Los Van Van at Summerstage June 6th


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Booty-Shaking History Making: Jose Conde Joins the Legendary Los Van Van at SummerStage as Cuban America and Cuba Reunite

Songwriter and musical bridge builder Jose Conde knows how to take sounds and run with themall the way to the dance floor. He brings his playful pan-Latin power pop to Central Park SummerStage on June 6, 2010 and joins Cuban legends Los Van Van in a lineup of historic proportions.

For the first time, Havana artists will share a bill with a first-generation Cuban American from Miami. Los Van Van - who brought the world to Cuba in the 1970s with an Afro-Cuban meets pop sound that has made them a major name in Latin dance for three decades - teams up with the youthful Conde, whose light-hearted, groove-heavy sound bridges genres, eras, and past tensions. “I have been a fan of Jose for a long time," says Erika Elliott, director of music programming for CityPark Foundation and Central Park SummerStage. “For this Los Van Van show we wanted a New York artist. So it was a no brainer to add Jose to the bill."

SummerStage audiences will get a sneak peak of Conde's newest material off of his upcoming self-titled album due out in spring 2011. Showing his full global colors in lyric-driven songs, Conde leaps boldly from funk to samba, from reggae to Afropop. It has Cuban depths, but a pan-American vibe.

“My music now is less Cuban on the surface, but at its heart and in its humor it is very much so," Conde smiles. “Artistically, I feel I have given my music the perspective that only I could give it, with touches of soul and funk and American pop, blended with world and Latin rhythms."

Some of this perspective originated in Condes hometown of Miami. Growing up stateside in the capital of Cuban America, Conde received the island's older pre-embargo musical traditions. But one fine day, as he sipped a guanabana juice, he realized there was something that had never reached him: Los Van Van and their seismic influence on contemporary Cuban music.

“Sometime around 1991, I was astonished to see a Los Van Van album, the one with 'Sandunguera,' for sale at a very rustic and then new Palacio de Los Jugos (Palace of Juices)," Conde recalls, remembering the era when Cuban music once again began flowing into the United States. “From that day on, I became a huge fan. I felt like I was home culturally listening to that, feeling the rhythm and the humor in a very personal way."

Los Van Van's music rumbled through Conde's work, which began with songs steeped in traditional Cuban sounds on solo recordings and his work with his band Ola Fresca. It has since evolved into spirited, booming tracks that draw on the Americas' myriad beats.

This heavy groove is provided by Conde's new band and its firm but funky rhythm section: Brazilian multi-percussionist Ze Mauricio, Cuban conga player Roman Diaz, Cuban bassist Jorge Bringas, and hailing from the good ol' Midwest, drummer Gintas Janusonis (who is co-producing the new album with Jose). This diversity, rounded out by Chilean keyboardist Pablo Vergara and several special guests, takes Conde's already eloquent songwriting to new, edgy yet imminently danceable places - places mapped out on his upcoming 2011 release and his spring 2011 tour.

In his new material, Conde glides the line between Latin heritage and American storyteller traditions. He slides poetically from universal themes of nature's beauty to personal expressions of romantic longing and loss. He shimmies between such diverse sounds as American and Brazilian old school funk, NYC dance beats, Afrobeat, reggae, Cuban son, and jam-band ballad. It's the kind of musical move Los Van Van would likely appreciate, having done their own worldly boogie to reframe Cuban sounds.

To celebrate the moment, Conde is releasing a special recording of his song “Puente a Mi Gente," an anthem imagining a transcendent musical bridge spanning the divide not only between Havana and Miami, but between people of all backgrounds. “Something everyone can dance on," Conde smiles.

“I have this image that making music is like playing ball: You throw to me and I throw it back to you," Conde explains. “Stylistically, in the songs and the music that the band will perform at SummerStage, we will pick up the ball from Los Van Van. And run with it."

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