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Gilles Peterson explores the world of Cuban rumba with a new documentary and an upcoming remix series

The latest chapter in the longstanding relationship between Gilles Peterson and the Havana Cultura platform, this new project sees him explore the roots of rumba throughHavana Club Rumba Sessions: La Clave, a feature-length documentary by Charlie Inman, and, subsequently, its ties to modern dance music through reinterpretations of rumba stems by electronic producers from around the world.

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Featuring interviews with key figures across the island’s musical generations, the documentary is an insight into rumba’s continued significance in a country where a carefully preserved past has long sat side-by-side with innovation. Produced in collaboration with rum maker Havana Club – that created the Havana Cultura platform to promote contemporary Cuban culture –, it’s another episode in a six-year relationship that’s already given vital exposure to different aspects of Cuba’s thriving music culture through the Havana Cultura album series*. This film is about tracing the through lines running from slave communities’ spiritual drumming practices, the dancers and musicians who’ve preserved those traditions, through to the younger generation who’ve plucked out and re-contextualised the elements most exciting to them.

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The history of rumba, inextricably tied up with the slave trade, uniquely intertwines West African and Iberian musical styles. With roots in the Congo, Nigeria, Benin and Cameroon, different African religious institutions such as Ifa, Ekpe and Nkisi were remade in Cuba as Lukumi (Santeria), Palo, Abakua and Arara. As such, the religious and social realities instituted by the African diaspora have a distinct, if complex, connection to the rhythms foundational to contemporary club music.

The three main styles of rumba are guaganco, yambu and columbia. As well as forming an important part of the documentary, unpacking these differing styles has become an important part of the wider Havana Cultura project’s exploration of rumba. Peterson worked with the esteemed rumberos to record versions of the three styles now set to be reworked by a number of producers working in electronic music in the UK and beyond. Where the film depicts the lineage descending from the working class communities of Havana and Matanzas to modern-day dancefloors, this other arm of the project allows for an exciting, global re-interpretation of rumba’s roots. An album with these original tracks will be released next year.

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FOLLOW HAVANA CULTURA: Official page, Facebook, YouTube, Bandcamp

HAVANA CULTURA // RUMBA SESSIONS: THE CLAVE DOCUMENTARY (Trailer)

HERE ARE SOME HAVANA CULTURA COMPILATIONS:

Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound

Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura: The Search Continues

Havana Cultura sessions: Danay Suarez

MALA IN CUBA was a Havana Cultura side project

Noi5er feat. Daymé Arocena – Me lleva La Habana

Raumskaya feat. Daymé Arocena – You knew before