Juan de Marcos: the Cuban Music Archeologist Back in the U.S.


The musical mastermind of the Buena Vista Social Club is still driving Cuban music to the forefront. Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, is back in the U.S. delighting audiences with anything from Afro-Cuban jazz to the traditional Cuban “son”.

The maestro Juan de Marcos has been a key contributor to the revival and internationalization of Cuban music. His is working on 3 new Cuban music projects, as he revealed in an exclusive interview with Latino Music Café.

Afro-Cuban All Stars Tours the U.S.

Cuban maestro Juan de Marcos is back in the U.S. after 2 years away. His intention is to delight audience in concert halls from coast to coast, in towns with both large and discrete populations. With his Afro-Cuban All Stars, Juan de Marcos started his 2013 U.S. tour in Seattle’s Jazz Alley.

Juan de Marcos and the Afro Cuban All Stars
Juan de Marcos Gonzalez is the musical director of the Afro Cuban All Stars

The Afro Cuban All Stars can play anything the audience wants to listen. During the tour, there have been instances where Juan de Marcos has had to change the musical plan for the evening because audiences opted to convert concert halls into dancing halls. Their music can range from being intriguingly mesmerizing for listening to being rhythmically enticing for dancing.

Many stars of Cuban music have passed through Juan De Marco’s Afro Cuban All Stars. The alumni of the Buena Vista Social Club where the first to pass through the band.

That iconic project of Cuban music and the 1st recording of the Afro-Cuban All Stars, which was nominated for a Grammy in 1998, were done simultaneously. However, they purposely had different musical formats. The former with a more traditional Cuban sound, and the latter with a “big-band” line-up.

Juan de Marcos Looking to Resurrect More Cuban Legends

The maestro plans to release 3 recordings in the near future. Among them is one for resurrecting more Cuban musical careers. Juan de Marcos has made a career of resurrecting Cuban music and artists. His 1st revival was the rescue of the decadent Cuban traditional “son”, when he formed the band “Sierra Maestra” back in 1976.

The band dressed like a rock band (Juan de Marcos had been an avid fan of American and British rock before forming “Sierra Maestra”). However, they still played traditional “son”. With their young appearance, and superb sound, the band became very popular. It earned several awards while recording 14 albums.

The concurrent musical projects of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars resurrected the career of legends of Cuban music. Among them are Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, “filin queen” Omara Portuondo, Ruben Gonzalez, Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, and others.

Video of Juan de Marcos Explaining Buena Vista in 60 Minutes

New Projects for Juan de Marcos

Now Juan de Marcos has 3 projects in the works:

  1. A contemporary Cuban music album, with the same trumpet and sax/clarinet format in the wind section as he has been touring with lately. This is a project that is already recorded and is pending the mixing part to be released.
  2. A traditional Cuban music album, in “big band” format. This would be similar to the Afro Cubans All Stars first project “A Toda Cuba Le Gusta”.
  3. An album of different styles of Cuban music. This one would be with great, but mostly unknown, Cuban female singers residing in Miami, Cuba, and other parts of the world. There he goes again, looking to resurrect the careers of more Cuban music artists.

The definition of archaeology is “the systematic study of past human life and culture by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence”. Juan de Marcos Gonzalez been one of the main ambassadors of Cuban music around the world. He’s accomplished this by studying the elements of music in general and Cuban music in particular. Additionally, he’s resurrected the careers of great Cuban artists. With his Afro Cuban All Stars he brings us the mix of Jazz and Cuban music for us to enjoy.


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  1. […] Juan de Marcos will delight attendees with a musical tour through several Cuban music styles, enhanced by his 14-piece band along with his orchestrations which allow space to highlight his young and talented musicians. I personally like the robustness of the orchestrations that bring such spice to the music that makes it almost irresistible to move along the rhythm. As Gloria Estefan would say…” the rhythm is going to get you”! […]

  2. […] Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, a veteran Cuban musician, was the mastermind of the concept. He developed it into two similar streams; the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All-Stars. It can be argued that both of these projects by Juan de Marcos were partly influential on the renaissance of Salsa Dura. […]

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