Cuban music has, since the Buena Vista Social Club two decades ago, been too often viewed through rose-tinted glasses. So this collection is refreshingly different. Its lack of buff and polish make it all the more compelling.”

Perceptive Travel

What is Changüí?

     Changüí is the predecessor of Son Cubano & Salsa, a style of music specifically from the region of Guantanamo Cuba. Its origins can be traced back to the 1800s, during the days of slavery in Cuba. Changüí is to Cuba & Latin America what the Blues & early Jazz is to American music. In other words, it is the roots, the foundation of what we currently know as Salsa, Cuban Son and a lot of other popular Latin music we hear today.

Who is Changüí Majadero?

     Playing Cuban roots music out of Los Angeles CA, Changüí Majadero is a blazing five-piece band that has honed a deeply informed and highly personal take on changüí, a surging Afro-Cuban musical tradition that took shape in the late 19th century on the eastern side of the island around Guantanamo. It’s one of the foundational styles that gave birth to son, salsa and timba, and in the hands of Changüí Majadero the music feels as fresh and intoxicating as a stiff shot of rum. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Gabriel García, an expert on Cuban tres guitar, the band brings Cuba's country blues to new ears.

Raw Cuban Roots, East LA Grit: Changüí Majadero Brings Cuba’s Country Blues to New Ears

     Changüí, the granddaddy of salsa, the music of bucolic Caribbean-steeped Eastern Cuba, has a raw intensity and grace that lovers of folk music, jazz, and world music listeners will appreciate. It got into the ear of an LA-born guitarist and grew into Changüí Majadero, a five-piece group devoted to spreading the joys of changüí.

     The group’s eponymous debut album, El Changüí Majadero adds urban grit to this rural music, the songs played at local parties and festivals, many of which have never been recorded before. “The beautiful thing about Changüí is the way the rhythm and melodic elements work together,” reflects Gabriel Garcia, guitarist, tresero, and founder of Changüí Majadero. “There are these wonderful African elements in the music, the syncopation of the rhythms, the call and response, but a lot of decimas and quartetos are sung and improvised like in other Latin folk traditions. You can talk about almost any subject, from love to politics, just like the blues.”