Tag Archives: Georgia

PRdream mourns the passing of Joe Cuba, 1931 – 2009

Viewing on Wednesday & Thursday, February 18 & 19, 2PM – 10PM

R&G Ortiz Funeral Home
204 E. 116th Street, between 3rd & 2nd Avenues

From: Aurora Communications, Inc.

Joe Cuba: Father of New York Boogaloo has passed away

The “Father of Boogaloo” Joe Cuba passed away on Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 4 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. He was the most popular exponent of the boogaloo, a fused Latino and R&B rhythm that exploded onto the American top 40s charts during the turbulent 1960s & ‘70s. Hits such as “*Bang Bang,” “Push Push,” “El Pito,” “Ariñañara,” and “Sock It To Me Baby,” rocked the hit parades establishing Joe Cuba and his Sextet as the definitive sound of Latin New York during the ‘60s & ‘70s. The Joe Cuba Sextet’s unusual instrumentation featured vibraphones replacing the traditional brass sound. His music was at the forefront of the Nuyroican movement of New York where the children of Puerto Rican emigrants, America’s last citizens, took music, culture, arts and politics into their own hands.

Joe Cuba’s Sextet became popular in the New York Latino community precisely because it fused a bilingual mix of Afro-Caribbean genres blended with the popular urban rhythm & blues of its time creating a musical marriage between the Fania and Motown sound. His was the first musical introduction to Latin rhythms for many American aficionados. The lyrics to Cuba’s repertoire mixed Spanish and English, becoming an important part of the emerging Nuyorican identity.

Joe Cuba’s music validated the developing Nuyorican population whose language and music Cuba captured with his sound, underlines Giora Breil, CEO of Emusica, the company that now owns the Fania label and who has remastered many of the classics to a new generation of music lovers. “He led the urban tribe,” pointed Breil, “into a united front of cultural warriors that were defining the social and political times they lived in.”

Longtime manager and promoter Hector Maisonave recalls Cuba as ”an innovator who crossed over into mainstream music at an early time. He was the soul of El Barrio. After Joe Cuba, El Barrio is just a street that crosses an avenue.”

In 1962, Cuba recorded “*To Be With You” *with the vocals of Cheo Feliciano and Jimmy Sabater whose careers he spotlighted after the bands introductory appearance at the Stardust Ballroom prior to its summer stint in the Catskills.

Born in 1931 in the heart of Spanish Harlem, his Puerto Rican parents arrived in New York City in the 20s. Christened “Gilberto Miguel Calderón,” Cuba was a “doo wopper” who played for J. Panama in 1950 when he was a young 19 year old before going on to play for La Alfarona X, where the young “congüerro” percussionist replaced Sabu Martinez tapped to play with Xavier Cugat.

By 1965, the Sextet got their first crossover hit with the Latino and soul fusion of “El Pito” (I Never Go Back To Georgia), a tune Cuba recorded against the advice of the producer later to be “broken” by a DJ over WBLS FM in N.Y.. The Dizzy Gillespie “/Never Go Back To Georgia” chant was taken from the intro to the seminal Afro-Cuban tune, “Manteca.” Vocalist Jimmy Sabater later revealed that “none of us had ever been to Georgia.” In fact, Cuba later comically described a conversation he had with the Governor of Georgia who called him demanding why he would record a song whose chorus negatively derided the still segregated Southern town. The quick thinking Joe Cuba replied, “Georgia is the name of my girl.”

“Joe Cuba exemplified the power that comes from collaboration.” highlighted East Harlem’s councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito. “Through his music, Joe brought together Latinos and African Americans and his art form reflected the influences of both cultures, Furthermore, his music united Harlem and East Harlem by reflecting the growth both communities experienced during the 1960s and ’70s. Joe Cuba made Spanish Harlem proud as he bravely brought his particular New York Latino identity to stages all over the world.”

In 1967, Joe Cuba’s band ––with no horns– scored a “hit” in the United States National Hit Parade List with the song “Bang Bang” – a tune that ushered in the Latin Boogaloo era. He also had a #1 hit, that year on the Billboard charts with the song “Sock It To Me Baby.” The band’s instrumentation included congas, timbales, an occasional bongo, bass, piano and vibraphone. “A bastard sound,” is what Cuba called it pointing to the fans, the people, as the true creators of this music. “You don’t go into a rehearsal and say ‘Hey, let’s invent a new sound or dance.’ They happen. The boogaloo came out of left field.“ Joe Cuba recounts in Mary Kent’s book:” Salsa Talks: A Musical History Uncovered. “It’s the public that creates new dances and different things. The audience invents, the audience relates to what you are doing and then puts their thing into what you are playing/,” pointing to
other artists such as Ricardo Ray or Hector Rivera as pioneers of the urban fused rhythm.

“I met Joe up in the Catskills in 1955,” /recalls nine time Grammy Award winner *Eddie Palmieri*. “When I later started La Perfecta,” Palmieri muses, “we alternated on stages with Joe. He was full of life and had a great sense of humor, always laughing at his own jokes,” chuckles the pianist. Palmieri pointed to Cuba’s many musical contributions underlining the power and popularity of his small band and bilingual lyrics while providing a springboard for the harmonies and careers of Cheo Feliciano, Willie Torres and Jimmy Sabater. “He was Spanish Harlem personified,” describes Palmieri recalling the “take no prisoners” attitude Cuba had when it came to dealing with those who reluctantly paid the musicians. Recalling their early recording days with the infamous Morris Levy, Palmieri cites the antics of Joe Cuba, Ismael Rivera and himself as the reason for Levy selling them as a Tico package to Fania label owner, Jerry Masucci.

Funny, irreverent and with a great humor for practical jokes, Joe Cuba, or Sonny as he was called by his closest friends, was raised in East Harlem. Stickball being the main sport for young boys of the neighborhood, Cuba’s father organized a stickball club called the Devils. After Cuba broke a leg, he took up playing the conga and continued to practice between school and his free time. Eventually, he graduated from high school and joined a band.

“He was not afraid to experiment/,” said *David Fernandez*, arranger & musical director of Zon del Barrio who played with the legendary Cuba when he arrived in New York in 2002.

By 1954, at the suggestion of his agent to change the band’s name from the Jose Calderon Sextet to the Joe Cuba Sextet, the newly named Joe Cuba Sextet made their debut at the Stardust Ballroom. Charlie Palmieri was musical director of the sextet before his untimely 1988 death from a heart attack.

Since then, the Joe Cuba Sextet and band has been a staple of concerts and festivals that unite both Latinos, African-Americans and just plain music lovers in venues all over the world.

In 2003, the following CDs were released:

* “Joe Cuba Sextet Vol I: Mardi Gras Music for Dancing”
* “Merengue Loco” and
* “Out of This World Cha Cha”.

In 2004, Joe Cuba was named Grand Marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrated in Yonkers, New York. Musician *Willie Villegas* who traveled with Joe for the past 15 years said, “It didn’t matter where we played around the world Joe would always turn to me and say, To My
Barrio…. With Love!”

Joe Cuba is survived by his wife Maria Calderon, sons Mitchell and Cesar, daughter Lisa, and grandchildren Nicole and Alexis.

Condolences can be sent directly to Joe Cuba’s widow: Maria Calderon at mariacuba1@verizon.net.



ATLANTA, GA– (December 13, 2006) Latino Leaders representing community based organizations from multiple states met with Dr. James Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday to discuss CDC’s response to the increased infections of HIV in the Latino communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is the principal Federal agency for protecting the public health and safety of all those living in the U.S. The CDC is also charged with providing essential human services, especially for those people who are least able to help themselves. The data on HIV infection among Latinos is alarming: they represent one of every five HIV infections. This proportion continues to raise, particularly among Latinas.

“This was a great meeting but it is just the first step in addressing the needs of the Latino community,” stated Oscar De La O, President and CEO from BIENESTAR. “We look forward to a continued dialogue and a partnership to improve CDC’s response to this health crisis,” stated Dennis De Leon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS. Catalina Sol, Director of HIV Services at La Clinica del Pueblo in Washington, DC stated that “Our delegation was unified in speaking with one voice to Dr. Fenton in hope to a greater response to the AIDS epidemic among Latinos.”

In this historical meeting, among the requests to CDC, Latino leaders sought the following:

· Request for Increased Communication. Dr. Fenton agreed to meet at least on a yearly basis with Latino Leaders. CDC also agreed to identify a liaison that would be a point person for issues related to HIV and Latinos.

· Latino Consultation. CDC agreed to come up with a strategy within its strategic plan in which to focus on HIV issues specific to the Latino communities that involves many or all of the branches at CDC. This strategy will include prevention, capacity building, epidemiology, leadership involvement, research, among others. This plan would take into account the diversity of Latino communities and will address issues such as language, culture, and socioeconomic variances.

· Creation of a behavioral research journal. Request that CDC sponsor a journal to highlight behavioral research for Latinos. It is imperative to raise the visibility of the research challenges concerning Latinos and HIV/AIDS.

· Two day Latino social science consultation. Request that CDC consider funding a two day Latino social science consultation after the National HIV Prevention Conference which will take place December 2-5, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia.

CDC agreed to most of the requests and also pledged to focus on Latino participation at the 2007 National HIV Prevention Conference by way of a Latino track and roundtable discussions. The two day Latino social science consultation was not confirmed, but would be given consideration.

The Community Based Organizations Present Included: Clínica del Pueblo, Washington, DC; BIENESTAR, Southern California; The Latino Commission on AIDS, NY; Salud Latina/Latino Health, Chicago, IL; CPG, Puerto Rico, Mujeres Unidas Contra el SIDA, TX


Mario Guerrero, Bienestar (626) 628-5219
Guillermo Chacón, Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA, (212) 920-1611

Latinos y Latinas se reúnen con los CDC, para pedir una respuesta más agresiva ante la crisis del VIH/SIDA

Atlanta, GA – (13 de Diciembre del 2006) Latinos representando organizaciones comunitarias de distintos Estados se reunieron con el Dr. James Fenton, Director de los Centros Nacionales para la prevención del VIH, Enfermedades de Transmisión Sexual y Tuberculosis, perteneciente a los centros para el control y la prevención de las enfermedades (CDC siglas en Ingles) para discutir la respuesta de los CDCs al incremento de infecciones por VIH en las comunidades Latinas a lo largo y ancho de los Estados Unidos. Los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades son uno de los 13 principales componentes operativos del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Sociales (HHS siglas en Ingles), el cual constituye la agencia principal en el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos para proteger la salud y la seguridad de toda la población americana, así como proveer servicios humanos esenciales, principalmente para aquellos que no pueden ayudarse a si mismos. Las estadísticas de infección por VIH son alarmantes. Los Latinos y Latinas representan una de cada cinco infecciones de VIH y las infecciones por VIH entre Latinas continúan incrementándose.

“Esta fue una muy buena reunión, pero es solamente el primer paso para tratar las necesidades de las comunidades Latinas” declaro Oscar de La O, Presidente y Director Ejecutivo de BIENESTAR. “Estaremos en espera de un diálogo continuo y un trabajo conjunto que pueda ayudar a mejorar la respuesta de los CDC a esta crisis de salud” declaro Dennis de Leon, Presidente de La Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA; Catalina Sol, Directora de Servicios de VIH de “La Clínica del Pueblo” con sede en Washington D.C., dijo que “Nuestra delegación se presento de forma unificada y se expreso en una sola voz al dirigirse al Dr. Fenton con la esperanza de una mejor respuesta a la epidemia del SIDA.”

En esta reunión histórica, entre las peticiones que se formularon a los CDC, los líderes Latinos buscaron lo siguiente:

  • Una petición para más y mejor comunicación. El Dr. Fenton estuvo de acuerdo en reunirse –por lo menos- una vez al año con los Lideres Latinos. Los CDC también estuvieron de acuerdo en identificar una persona de contacto, que servirá de puente para temas relacionados a VIH y Latinos/as
  • Una Consulta Latina. Los CDC acordaron desarrollar una estrategia como parte de su plan estratégico, esta estrategia será enfocada en temas específicos relacionados al VIH e involucrara a muchas o todas las ramas de los CDC, que incluyen entre otros, la rama de prevención, capacitación, epidemiología, desarrollo de liderazgo e investigación. Esta iniciativa tomara en cuenta la diversidad dentro de la comunidad Latina y temas como el bilingüismo y otros temas en el área social, económico y cultural.
  • Una publicación relacionada al campo que investiga el comportamiento. Se solicito a los CDC el patrocinio de una publicación enfocada en la investigación sobre el comportamiento dentro de los/as Latinos/as. Esto es importante para incrementar la visibilidad sobre los retos de investigación concerniente a Latinos/as y el VIH/SIDA.
  • Dos días de consulta sobre el campo social en Latinos. Se solicito a los CDC que consideraran apoyar económicamente dicha consulta después de la conferencia nacional sobre prevención de VIH, programada entre el 2 al 5 de Diciembre, 2007 en Atlanta, GA.

Los CDC concordaron con la mayoría de las solicitudes y también aseguraron poner atención para la participación Latina en la Conferencia Nacional de Prevención de VIH, estableciendo un enfoque Latino así como mesas de discusión. Sobre la consulta de dos días, no fue confirmada, pero será considerada.