Craft is proud to announce the release of The Complete Cuban Jam Sessions 5-LP and 5-CD box sets on November 9, 2018. Compiled here in their entirety and original format for the first time, the five volumes of Panart’s Cuban Jam Session albums were recorded over a span of almost a decade, from 1956-1964. Together these albums encapsulate a stylistic and historic panorama of Cuban music, from big band son montuno to Afro-Cuban rumba, mambo, cha-cha-chá and country acoustic guajira music. At the same time, they attest to Cuba’s long relationship with popular American music and jazz.

Collectively these sessions feature an impressive line-up of renowned pioneers of descarga (improvised jam session), including pianist Julio Gutiérrez, tres player Niño Rivera, flautist José Fajardo and the legendary master bassist and mambo co-creator, Israel “Cachao” López. Participating musicians include the legendary percussionist Tata Güines, trombone master Generoso Jiménez, pioneering Cuban jazz drummer Guillermo Barreto, Cachao’s brother and co-father of the mambo Orestes López, ground-breaking timbales player/drummer Walfredo de los Reyes, Sr., jazz-influenced pianist Pedro Jústiz “Peruchín” and Cuban scat singer Francisco Fellove, among many others.

The 5-LP set includes 35 tracks on 180-gram audiophile vinyl in tip-on jackets. It offers a 28-page book featuring black-and-white archival images of the featured artists as well as extensive liner notes and musician bios in English and Spanish by award-winning Latin music writer, Cuban music specialist and box set co-producer, Judy Cantor-Navas. The 5-CD version comes packaged in mini-jacket replicas of the vinyl jackets and is supplemented by an extensive 96-page CD booklet.

Special bundle packages featuring a limited edition Panart Records t-shirt are available exclusively via the Craft Recordings online store: Click here

About Panart Records
Panart Records, the first independent Cuban record label, was founded in 1943 by Ramón S. Sabat, an engineer and inventor who brought Cuban music to the world. Inside its studios – then the most modern facility in Latin America – Panart captured an era: The first cha-cha-chá on record, “La Engañadora,” by Enrique Jorrín, was on Panart. Pérez Prado’s earliest mambos were recorded there. Nat King Cole made his first Spanish-language album in the Panart studio. Panart documented Santería (Afro-Cuban religious ritual music) featuring Celia Cruz’s vocals. Throughout the forties Sabat struggled to compete with RCA Victor and other foreign companies for the Cuban music market, but by the late fifties, the label’s recordings became synonymous with the hottest Latin music of the day and were distributed throughout North and South America. After Fidel Castro took power in 1959, Panart was nationalized and the studio became the recording venue for the state record label, Egrem. The Sabat family went into exile in Miami. Before the regime seized Panart, Sabat’s wife had sent a set of masters to New York, preserving a major part of the catalog for generations to come. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of Panart.

Digital Configurations
The complete collection will also be released digitally, including (for the first time) hi-res 192/24 and 96/24 formats. In the weeks leading up to the release, one single from each session will be offered as an “instant grat” download with all digital pre-orders. Concurrent with the rollout of the instant grat tracks, each respective session will be made available to stream in its entirety. The first digital installment, Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature, Descargas: Cachao Y Su Ritmo Caliente, rolls out today in celebration of Cachao’s centennial. The complete “Descargas” session (serving as Volume 4) is available to stream, and its track “Trombon Criollo” is available as an instant grat single with all digital album pre-orders. To stream or download, click here.

About Julio Gutiérrez’ Volumes 1 & 2
The Cuban Jam Session recordings were initially started by music director, pianist, composer and arranger Julio Gutiérrez in partnership with pianist Pedro Jústiz “Peruchín.” Gutiérrez was a Havana nightlife fixture in the 1950s, fronting several bands for various venues and working as director at Cuban television’s Channel 4. Pianist Peruchín was known for creating jazz-influenced Cuban popular music and was an important figure in the jam session recordings. Gutiérrez, Jústiz and drummer/percussionist Walfredo de los Reyes, Sr., along with a group of outstanding musicians from Julio’s band, went to Panart Records’ studio, located at a high-ceilinged colonial house at 410 San Miguel Street, to record an improvised jam session. That evening’s session, which started around 10 pm and ended at 6 am the next morning, became Cuban Jam Session, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Volume 1 takes off with a traveling version of “Perfidia,” the romantic classic penned by Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez and covered by – among many others – Nat King Cole. The third track, “Cimmarón” (the title refers to a name for a runaway slave), marks the appearance of the marvel Francisco Fellove, whose unique Afro-Caribbean scat singing on the album has become legendary over the years. Volume 2 ends with “Batá Rhythm,” a rumba treatment on the cha-cha-chá. With hypnotic drumming and Yoruban chanting, it recreates the music heard in the urban patios of Havana during the sacred ritual celebrations of what is known as Santería.

Julio Gutiérrez’ Volume 1 and Volume 2 will be available to stream in their entirety on September 28th, the same day “Theme on Perfidia” from Volume 1, and “Rhumba Theme” from Volume 2 will be made available as instant grat singles with all digital album pre-orders.

About Niño Rivera’s Volume 3

Volume 3 was led by bebop-loving tres player El Niño Rivera, whose contemporary harmonies took the Cuban guitar out of the countryside and into the clubs. The album brought cosmopolitan grooves to traditional acoustic and Afro-Cuban street music, as on closing track, “Guaguanco Comparsa,” which drops the melody of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” into a mad Cuban carnaval rumba.

Niño Rivera’s Volume 3 will be available to stream in its entirety on October 12th. At the same time, “Montuno – Swing” will be made available as an instant grat single with all digital album pre-orders.

About Cachao’s Cuban Jam Session in Miniature, “Descargas”

Cuban Jam Session in Miniature, “Descargas” was led by mambo innovator, band leader and master bassist Cachao. Unlike the previous Cuban Jam Sessions, its improvised tracks were edited to a radio-friendly format. They were hardly the typical Latin hit-parade singles, however. At the session Cachao played a spontaneous tumbao rhythmic pattern that would be his signature from then on. On the outstanding track “Descarga Cubana,” the now-familiar mambo riff sets up a hypnotizing duel between conga player Tata Güines and the pioneering Cuban jazz drummer Guillermo Barreto on timbales. This jam session, serving as Volume 4 of the series, would take on mythic proportions over the years. Propelled by Cachao’s late-life rise to celebrity, in 2013 the album was inducted into both the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

Cuban Jam Session in Miniature, “Descargas” is now available to stream in its entirety in celebration of Cachao’s centennial. “Trombon Criollo” is available as an instant grat single with all digital album pre-orders.

About José Fajardo’s Volume 5
Volume 5 was led by the massively popular bandleader and flautist José Fajardo, a household name among Latin music fans in the 1950s (because he led three different bands in Cuba). With his inventive playing and gregarious persona, Fajardo brought mid-century swing to the flute and violin-dominating sound of the typical charanga band format. The Cuban revolution began in July of 1953, and in 1957 Fajardo began recording the Volume 5 session. The recording of this final Cuban Jam Session was different than the rest: its circumstances would be dictated by the sudden historic changes in Cuba that marked the end of an incredible, unrepeatable musical era. That year, bombs went off at the Havana Hilton and the Tropicana, and there was a shooting death at the Montmartre cabaret where one of Fajardo’s bands played regularly. The album’s release was put on hold, and by 1959 the in-demand musician was spending most of his time in New York performing in prestigious ballrooms. In 1964, the Fajardo Jam Session was reconvened in New York City and later released.

Fajardo and his All-Stars’ Volume 5 will be available to stream in its entirety on October 26th. At the same time, “Juaniquita” will be made available as an instant grat single with all digital album pre-orders.

The Cuban Jam Sessions reveal the flip side of Cuban music’s golden age: the informal gathering that happened away from the colorful stage shows and splendid decadence of Havana’s fabled nightlife. As the original back cover of Cuban Jam Session, Volume 1 states, “It is without reservation of any kind that Panart assures you that that which you are about to hear will be a novel, unusual record. We expect that the buyer will find in it all the color and excitement of authentic Cuban music not limited to the time of the standard recording date, but music as it is felt by the men who know how to play…”