They are the oldest and greatest of the Cuban small orchestras performing in the musical style that gave birth to salsa. Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro de Cuba may not have the longest band name out right now (that would be … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead), but that doesn’t mean this 82-year-old organization won’t blow its audience away when it stops by UCSB on Sunday, April 3. Founded in 1927 by Ignacio Piñeiro Martinez, the bass player and composer who virtually created 20th-century Cuban music as we know it, the group has gone through myriad six- and seven-member incarnations in its many long years. Nominated for a Grammy in the Traditional Tropical Music category in 2003, the Septeto began a world tour at that time that has continued on and off ever since but has only recently begun to include the United States, thanks to diplomatic challenges. This version of the band, which is led by Eugenio “Raspa” Rodríguez and Frank “El Matador” Oropesa, made history in 2009 by obtaining visas, entering the U.S., and playing concerts here, something the Septeto Nacional had been prohibited from doing since 1933. This tour celebrates the release of Sin Rumba No Hay Son! The band plays UCSB’s Campbell Hall this Sunday, April 3, at 7 p.m. Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu for tickets. And read on below for some reasons why you should check them out.
1. For the Authenticity: When it comes to Cuban music, they are the ultimate in realness. Oropesa explained that in Cuban music, Septeto Nacional “represents the most authentic and universal tradition,” the one that was “created by Don Ignacio Piñeiro, the poet of El Son and the rumba.”
2. For the Pleasure: Oropesa went on to say that Septeto Nacional achieves “the maximum expression of Cuban music through its flavor and its authentic roots; it’s the oldest school. Without El Son, it would not have been possible for salsa and many other musical genres that have been nourished by El Son [to have flourished]. It’s the most sublime music for giving pleasure to the soul.”
3. For Your Health: When asked what audiences can expect to feel when they go to see the group, Oropesa answered, “With much energy and flavor, and a lot of heart, our songs cure everything because they’re made with a lot of feeling and dedication.”