Alex Cuba is proud to present, Lo Único Constante, twelve songs reflecting a lifetime of musical development. The album official releases April 7th and is available now on pre-order.
Chief among the influences on this album is filin (derived from the English word “feeling”), a movement that emerged in the 1940s, popularized by acts such as César Portillo de la Luz, Jose Antonio Mendez, and Omara Portuondo (to name a few), which draws inspiration from guitar-based Cuban roots styles such as trova and American jazz and soul. Its mellifluous melodies, stirring harmonies, and meticulous song-craft are showcased throughout Lo Único Constante, notably on the first single, “Todas Las Cabezas Están Locas,” released Friday.
Recorded in Montreal with producer Jean Massicotte, the song opens with Alex crooning in heartfelt tones over gentle acoustic guitar, before Les Triplettes de Belleville soundtrack composer Benoit Charest jumps in with some gentle gypsy jazz licks. Brazilian-born vocalist Bia offers some sultry back-up singing leading up to rhythmic chorus, accentuated by layered vocals and joyful hand claps.
Alex shows off his roots in a whole different way on “Chekere,” a song about the spiritual properties of shakers. Its tribal-like rhythms come courtesy of the Abakuá drums, a percussion instrument that pre-dates the conga and belongs to a Cuban secret society.
And “Piedad de Mi” sees Alex riffing on tradition in yet another unique manner. Having imagined the song with a traditional Cuban horn section, he recorded some vocalizations to sketch out the brass arrangement. He then realized the vocalizations sounded far more interesting and original than horns, so the piece was reborn as a quasi a cappella track.
Alex’s risk-taking on Lo Único Constante also extends to the recording process. In addition to traveling to Montreal to work with Massicotte, he produced Emilio Del Monte Jr.’s percussion parts for the album remotely via Facetime, while Del Monte laid them down in Maimi. And he journeyed to Madrid’s Musigrama to record the flamenco flavoured “Lágrimas Del Que Llora” with Josemi Carmona, heir to the flamenco dynasty, the Carmonas of Jerez. A former member of the groundbreaking flamenco fusion group Ketama, which raised the ire of purists when they debuted in the 80s, Carmona is now widely considered one of the greatest flamenco/jazz guitarists working today.
Long-time collaborator Joby Baker co-produced the rest of Lo Único Constante at Victoria’s Baker Studios and succeeded, along with Alex, in incorporating the remote sessions into a beautiful, cohesive package.
The theme of the album is change, as the one constant in life, and it’s a fitting motif for an artist that’s been on a non-stop creative evolution ever since launching his solo debut in 2004 – and who has revolutionized Cuban music with each new step in his artistic process.