10/18/12 , Posted by Alex Guerrero at 12:18 PM
A pillar of Cuban music for much of the last 80 years, Orquesta Aragon got its start when double bass man Orestes Aragon Cantero debuted his charanga group in Cinefuegos. With violins, piano, flute, percussion, and vocals, the basic sound that has served the band ever since was already in place. But the group's name would evolve, from Ritmica de 39 to Ritmica Aragon, and finally, by the end of 1940, to Orquesta Aragon. A socialist before socialism was cool, Cantero rejected stardom, and the group he created became a monument to musical collectivism, with equal pay for all, and a sound that is all about unity and ensemble work. Cantero once said, "I want to found a musical family. I'm not looking for virtuoso players but musicians with human qualities." He got both, and his band worked the lively seaside scene in Cinefuegos year after year. Following the musical explosions that went on in Cuba during the '90s, the band regrouped under the leadership of Rafeal Lay Junior, returning to its roots, and to the recording studio to create rich new albums: Quien Sabe Sabe (1997), La Charanga Eterna (1999), En Route (2001), and Por Siempre Aragon (2002). En Route received a Grammy nomination in the Tropical Music category, marking a new high water mark in a band history that just won't quit. Capable of appealing to a good three generations of Cuban music fans, Orquesta Aragon continues releasing albums and performing in both Cuba and the U.S. The band is now a veritable institution, likely to outlive us all.
* ORQUESTA ARAGON > BB King Blues Club > Octubre 22 > ARAGON.