coming out on 23th february 2010
Joe Cuba (Gilberto Navarro) was born on April 22, 1931, in Spanish Harlem, New York City, where his Puerto Rican parents moved in the late ‘20’s. Captivated by the conga playing of Sabu Martínez, Gilbert took the opportunity to learn the instrument while recovering from a broken leg suffered playing stickball. Gilbert jammed in the street until given the chance to replace Sabu for a few months as part of a local band, La Alfarona, X in 1950. Shortly after, he joined Spanish Harlem’s Joe Panama Quintet, where Jimmy Sabater was a timbales player. After recruiting vibraphonist Tommy Berrios, Gilbert and the band had a falling out with Panama and formed the Cha Cha Boys with Gilbert Calderon as the bandleader. Much to his surprise, Gilbert would soon be billed as “Joe Cuba” by his promoter, Catalino Rolón, and the name would stick.
Joe Cuba was instrumental in the development of boogaloo and had the biggest hit of the 60s with “Bang Bang,” which achieved unprecedented success for Latin music in the US in 1966 when it sold over one million copies. Joe’s pivotal role in the boogaloo style had him nicknamed the “Father of Latin Boogaloo,” and his leadership in the community had coined rightfully so, “the mayor of the barrio” (El Alcalde Del Barrio).
Joe Cuba led an extraordinary life and left behind a legacy of wonderful music for us to take pleasure in, as you will discover upon listening to this album. His presence will be eternally missed, but his spirit remains with those fortunate to have known him.
The set joins The Man and His Music series that has featured such artists as Tito Rodríguez, Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colón, and Rubén Blades, all on the Fania label, whose catalog Código Music recently acquired. Joe Cuba: The Man and His Music is the second release in this series from Código Music.