Enrique Alvarez y su Charanga Latina, A quarter century making great music
By Mercy Ramos, Photos: Courtesy of Enrique Álvarez, AME PRODUCCIONES and KMINANDO STUDIOS
For fans of Cuban popular music, La Charanga Latina is a symbol in itself. Over the twenty-six years since the band was formed it has been the audience's favourite.
“You cannot talk about Charanga Latina without mentioning its founder and director Enrique Álvarez, who with his vast experience managed to create the group that today enjoys the huge popularity and success that it does, not only in Cuba but around the world.”
So says Lázaro Enrique Álvarez, the group's musical director and son of the group's front man.
In an exclusive interview with CubaPlus, Lázaro Enrique explained how the group had passed through various stages as it has sought to perfect its work. First in 1995 the brass section was added to the orchestra, and later from 2013 its image was revamped to extend its popularity to a younger audience
As he tells it, that was when the song Mami aquí no hay na was recorded, marking the beginning of La Charanga's newest chapter.
“That one we recorded with Randy Malcon, from [reggaeton group] Gente d' Zona, and it was a hit with the public.”
“La Charanga Latina has recorded around thirteen albums, among them Mira como vengo that was a great success, and at the moment we're promoting our record Más fuerte with some very popular tracks,” he says.
“We've just released the video for El duro which is part of a DVD called La súper explosiva that we recorded live at [Havana's] Karl Marx theatre with various outstanding musicians and singers, including Haila María Mompié and Alain Daniel.”
Currently the group is immersed in a Quebec-Cuba cultural project organized by Canadian company Les Productions Québec-Cuba Inc. and Cuba's Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales (EGREM). As part of the project, La Charanga Latina will be playing various concerts in Quebec next August with Canadian singer Etienne Drapeau who sings Latin music in Spanish. In October there will also be a series of shows in Holguín, Varadero and Havana.
“I think this project will be something really nice and very positive, with Etienne who's a great Latin pop singer. It'll be a great experience for us,” says Lázaro Enrique.
Talking about other work the group has planned for this year, he said in July they will be playing different cities across Europe including Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland. “Once we're back from Quebec, we're off to Mexico and the USA at the end of September, where we'll be playing eight concerts. Then in October we're back here playing the concerts with Etienne, then we'll be doing a nationwide tour.”
“Our main project is to keep expanding our fan base. That's why we're working so hard on our next album, we're recording the tracks and hoping La Charanga Latina keeps getting stronger.”