After influencing the world, Cuban percussion has come full circle.
By the time the likes of Dezi Arnez, Don Aspiazu and Arsenio Rodríguez began spreading Cuban music through the United States and beyond, the foundations of their music were already engrained in Cuban folklore. Percussion instruments like bongos, congas and timbales are all Cuban inventions that have woven their way through the history of Cuban culture and music.
Today, those Cuban instruments can be heard in music played around the world, extending beyond Cuban genres to enhance numerous other styles. The innovations also inspired a handful of global leaders in percussion who have fine-tuned the manufacturing process over the years. The finest instruments, built for the finest international musicians… which has inevitably put them in the hands of Cuba's most exceptional talent.
One such manufacturer is Canadian cymbal-maker, Sabian, who have been supporting international Cuban artists for several years. In addition to providing world-class cymbals, the company's subsidiary, Gon Bops, is an international provider of bongos, congas and timbales. And as a result of Sabian's passionate support for some of Cuba's touring artists, Cuban innovation has come full circle to return to Cuban shores.
Sabian has increased its support for Cuban artists over the years through the company's association with Aldo Mazza, a Canadian percussionist whose involvement in Cuban music spans more than a decade. Sabian currently endorses many of Cuba's most important recognized artists and is a sponsor of “ La Fiesta Del Tambor” (the Havana Rhythm & Dance Festival), which showcases the hottest talent of a proud nation in March each year.
“Cuban talent is absolutely phenomenal and the rest of the world needs to know more about it,” says Peter Stairs, Vice President of Sales for Sabian. “People who attend the festival every year are lucky enough to be exposed to some of the greatest performers in the world, not just in Cuba.”
In conjunction with the Havana Rhythm & Dance Festival under the artistic direction of Giraldo Piloto, Sabian also sponsors Aldo Mazza's annual KoSA Cuba Workshops, which provide instructional interactions between eager visitors and some of Cuba's top performers. Mazza has been a visionary and has witnessed the results of combining invention, innovation and talent.
“When you put some of the best-made instruments into the hands of the brightest talent, it makes for beautiful music,” he says. “Canada and Cuba share mutual respect across many aspects of life and culture, and Sabian's involvement in Cuba is a bi-product of that relationship.”
While Sabian and Gon Bops continue to support the great work of Cuba's touring artists, the company is exploring new ways to grow that relationship inside of Cuba and to provide the next generation of phenomenal percussionists with world-class instruments.