What is a mondoSweetie?
Mondo = Big. Huge. World. The planet we live on.
Sweetie = A sweet sound. Sugar cane meets the machete. Ear candy.
Ironically, it all began in a roach-infested apartment in Brooklyn, NY, traveled to loft-parties and smoky clubs in East/West Europe, made it's way back to the US through the freezing cold, starving during endless recording sessions in Boston, and finally digging into the roots with the family back in Cuba. I wanted the world to be my band. The sweet sounds of Mali, Ethiopia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the US, Germany, Hungary, Haiti, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Curacao, all have made their way into this fabric through talented musicians. But the root, the clave, is Cuba and the United States. I stand with one foot on each shore and let the energy of both cultures feed my passion, between ninety miles of barbed wire, shark teeth, and misinformation.
Have you ever heard the tres? It's a Cuban guitar with six-strings in three pairs tuned in octaves. I play one and it's a unique instrument. The sound is like joy, the sun, and clear Caribbean waves. When you pull a melancholy tone from the instrument it is like a briefly passing cloud and it can also evoke lightning. The sway of hips and kissing lips is the rhythm that drives this music. Reality, love and death are always the muses, but the dream, the goal, is transcendence.
Let me tell you something about this "Infusion" recording. It can be haunting and sexy, funny and danceable. It is one of the hardest things I've ever done on a physical, emotional, and psychic level, but also an extreme relief. It was hard on the people around me as well, and I believe this work will honor them and articulate some difficult feelings. The collection is diverse, so if you don't like abstractions in your party you won't want to mess with this. But if you can ride the waves of these dynamics with joy, and resonate with the romance of an eclectic, sonic fiesta, then I invite you to dance. The lyrics are in Spanish, but are not intended for strictly Latin audiences. We break the rules of tradition with every tune. Here is a little verbal description of what you'll hear:
1. Fuego Dulce - This is a furious mambo. It is also our calling card. The title translates into sweet fire. Right away you know it's a party.
2. Nueva Luna - Ahhh, sailing the Caribbean now. Take off your clothes, slip into the jewel toned water, and be baptized under the clarity of the new moon.
3. La Caminadora - Vintage Cuban music like you've never heard it before. This is the only cover tune on the CD, originally written for Los Zafiros, a 60's Cuban Doo-wop group.
4. Amor Clandestino - A poetic power ballad perhaps. It is about loving more. The last verse is borrowed from Kahlil Gibran's "El Profeta".
5. Retrato - A sweet modern Bolero without any syrup. It is quite sincere, and features very cool moog synth sounds, and some romantic guitar work. "Retrato" means portrait.
6. Van Van - Go Go! Son cubano. Dance salsa the real way. Nothing to do with the famous Cuban group Los VanVan. It is a cheer into the new millennium.
7. Walk With Me - Something of an anomaly, this can best be described as Spanglish pop. It has a little rap in it but the beauty is in the gorgeous female vocals.
8. El Valle - The valley. Taking inspiration from the Tao Te Ching, and celebrating the place we all came through, and many of us enjoy returning to.
9. Baila Sin Temor - Dance Without Fear, is a story of how my family left Cuba in the early sixties and how I eventually came to embrace Cuban music. Hi Mom!
10. Dos Patrias - This one could be the first ever guajira waltz. I set this music to the Jose Marti poem by the same name. It expresses the bittersweet life of the exile.
11. No Hagas Caso - Pay no mind to the crap that many speak. Enjoy your life. We are here, not there.
12. Eternidad - This one is somewhat haunting. It is a call and response between the living and the dead, using an old Cuban proverb; "for those who love, time is eternity".
Beauty is a form of rebellion. There is a lot of anger in this music, but it's not the unprocessed, gorilla-in-heat variety. This is anger distilled, aged and fermented into something beautiful. It is too obvious to simply lash out at the world by mirroring the ugliness of the corporate, religious, heartless machine. To create something gentle, with love and patience is the ultimate act of rebellion, and with that I bid you peace by dancing and making love.
September 11, 2003