Cigar Aficionado

Hecho En Cuba

Cuban music lovers can add to their collection in 2005 with the release of a comprehensive three-volume disc set of classics entitled "Hecho en Cuba" (Made in Cuba).

The series features recordings and collaborations from such Island artists as the late Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa, Omara Portuondo and Ruben Gonzalez. The third disc includes a track by the recently deceased "Salsa Queen" Celia Cruz. The crescendo of popping beats and sonorous horns play out over a total of 43 tracks.

The compilation is the brainchild of Canadian producer Antonio Marsillo. Marsillo wanted to launch a new collection of Cuban music that featured a song from Ry Cooder's 1997 Grammy Award-winning "Buena Vista Social Club." However, he could not get the rights and had to go directly to Egrem, the state run record label that has monopoly control on recorded music in Cuba.

He received permission from Egrem for the one track, which led to the licensing of more material. After delving into the Engrem archives, Marsillo discovered 30 to 40 recording sessions from which he selected the songs that would eventually become the three-disc set.

"Some of the tracks on Volume 1," Marsillo says, "are the same songs as on 'Buena Vista' but were recorded years before and have a whole different sound because the original production was all in Cuban. To me they [the songs] sound more traditional; but also more laid-back and informal…with rough edges left on."

The first volume of "Hecho en Cuba" was released in the United States in June 2003 followed by the second volume in January 2004. The third was released in November 2004. The three-volume box set, featuring Cuban cigar-box imagery will be available in stores February 8, 2005 and will retail for $21.98.

Photo by Miguel Nuñez