Mezcla

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Mezcla is a music group from Cuba.

Mezcla[edit]

Mezcla has been a part of the soundtrack of the Cuban music scene for the past twenty-five years. The ensemble has constantly reinvented itself, highlighting its members' musical strengths and interests. A multigenerational ensemble, Mezcla brings together several veteran masters with some the best of young jazz players on the scene today.

Mezcla was featured in the Smithsonian Institution's Documentary on Latin Jazz "La Combinacion Perfecta." [1]

The band has participated in festivals throughout Europe, Latin America and the US. They play several times each month at Havana’s legendary jazz club La Zorra y el Cuervo and the jam sessions they have hosted there are legendary, including such luminaries as Chucho Valdés, Roy Hargrove, Dafnis Prieto, George Benson, Yosvany Terry, Orlando Sanchez, Wynton Marsalis, Felipe Cabrera, Giovanni Hidalgo and Steve Coleman, to mention just a few who have dropped in during the Havana Jazz Festival (Jazz Plaza) or almost any night.[1]

In 1993 Carlos Santana said Mezcla was “the cleanest, freshest water I have ever tasted.”[2] They have a number of recordings under their belt, the latest with an international street date of January 2010 on the Zoho label entitled “See You in C-U-B-A.” [2]

Auturo O'Farrill has this to say about Mezcla: "...those who think Cuban music fits in a cigar box, who have Buena Vista vision and who think that Cuban music is only Salsa, Timba, or Mambo [...] will be surprised by the incredible fluidity with which these musicians float between genres and worlds."[3]


In a recent review of Mezcla's latest Cd, Raul d’Gama Rose of All About Jazz said

I'll See You in Cuba is an extraordinary celebration of Cuba's dance and song. It is a fiercely vivid account of a culture infused with the most electrifying elements of Afro-Caribbean heritage. As a musical odyssey it holds its own with the very best of Irakere and the Buena Vista Social Club. Pablo Menéndez and the wonderful musicians of Mezcla set the world alight with a ravishing blend of blues, soul, and jazz idioms that collide with the son, guaracha, guajira, bolero, and danzon. These they grind into a fine mixture of pure joy and unforgettable musical ecstasy. [...] This is music that will echo with excitement long after its last notes [...] have died down.[4]

Pablo "Mezcla" Menéndez: founder, lead guitarist and musical director[edit]

Pablo "Mezcla" Menéndez

Born in Oakland, California, guitarist Pablo "Mezcla" Menéndez is the son of blues and jazz singer Barbara Dane. Living in Cuba since 1966, he has been an indelible part of many Cuban music scenes over the past decades: the Nueva Trova movement (Grupo de Experimentación Sonora with Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés), the jazz world (Sonido Contemporaneo at the old Club Rio with Gonzalo Rubalcaba and others), Afro-rock group Síntesis (with Carlos and Ele Alfonso) and more. On the basis of this rich experience, Pablo founded Mezcla in 1989 and has led the band since on countless gigs in Cuba, many international tours to Europe and the U.S., and on several critically acclaimed recordings. Pablo also opened the way, in the mid ‘90s, for other Cuban musicians to tour the United States. When Mezcla’s visas were denied in 1993, U.S. public opinion and various members of Congress mobilized to protest. Among the protesters was the legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, the spearhead of Latin Rock, who stated in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner that Mezcla was his favorite band from Cuba. When Pablo traveled to San Francisco without the visa-less band to perform at the Encuentro del Canto Popular Festival, Santana joined Pablo onstage. Although it was the first time they had played together and there was no rehearsal, Pablo says "it was as if we had been playing together forever and knew each other's minds: different ways of speaking the same language. But what more can I say about Carlos, one of the all-time great artists of the guitar!" In 1999 Pablo teamed up with Bonnie Raitt to write and record two songs as part of the “Bridge to Havana” songwriting workshop. One of the high points of the concert done by all the artists at the end of that historic week was Bonnie, Pablo, actor Woody Harrelson and guitarist Rey Guerra performing their song "Cuba's Way Too Cool". Their other song, "La Brisa Azul" is on the recently released "Bridge to Havana" album. In 2005 Pablo released "Havana Blues Mambo" as a solo project on Zoho Music [5] and in recent years he has led a US-based Cuban All Star ensemble for performances at venues such as Regatta Bar in Boston and Yoshi's in Oakland, California. In January 2009 he was invited to share the bill and perform with Larry Coryell and John Stowell at the Jazz Guitar Summit in Olympia, Washington.

"Pablo Menendez is not your average everyday Afro-Caribbean or Latin jazz musician. His vision of this music stretches back to traditional jazz and show tunes and up to electric urban blues, modern post-bop, Cuban or Puerto Rican music, and contemporary neo-bop spawned in the 1970s. As a guitarist he is strong individually in these varied styles or disciplines, but as a bandleader he stretches out even further, taking his Mezcla ensemble into these disciplines of jazz and music both beyond and including Latin sensibilities." Michael G. Nastos (Allmusic.com)

Discography[edit]

  • I’ll SEE YOU IN C.U.B.A. (ZOHO, 2010)Listen
  • HAVANA BLUES MAMBO (ZOHO, 2005)Listen
  • ¡AKIMBA! (Khaeon, 2002)Listen
  • LAS PUERTAS ESTAN ABIERTAS (1999)
  • ¡ROCASON! (1997)
  • CANTOS: LÁZARO ROS CON MEZCLA (Intuition Records)
  • FRONTERAS DE SUEÑOS (Intuition Records)
  • SOMOS HIJOS DE LA MEZCLA (EGREM)

Press[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]