Los Van Van, Cuba's Finest Coming to Lehman Center

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The Cuban Music Train is here and its making its way to Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx, via the popular Cuban Group Formell Y Los Van Van. Regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 20th Century, Los Van Van will bring its hybrid rhythms, Afro-cuban disco and funk blended with the go-go sounds of the 1970s back to Lehman Center for the Performing Arts as part of its exclusive NYC appearance.  The band is celebrating their 45th Anniversary as part of their US Tour and will appear at Lehman Center, Saturday, August 8th, 2015 at 8pm. 

Led by Samuel Formell, son of founder, band leader, bass player and songwriter  Juan Formell,who founded Los Van Van in 1969 when he was 27, and who has made popular music with music conservatory trained band members pianist, songwriter Cesar Pupy" Pedrosa and drum and timbales player Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana for nearly 45 years. The band has electified Havana dance floors with Songo, a contemporary Cuban music originated in Havana that melds the genre of Latin jazz, pop, go-go and world fusion.  In fact the band name "Los Van Van" literally means "they go-go."  And Songo also served as the title to their breakthrough 13th album in 1988 which was released internationally on Mango records.

It wasn't long before Los Van Van became Cuba's favorite dance band known for the their sophisticated, often satirical lyrics chronicling the realities of Cuban life, electric instrumentation and multi-layered percussion. In addition to the traditional Cuban charanga band lineup of violins and flutes, Los Van Van also featured multiple trombones and vocalists that, along with Changuito’s virtuosity on drums and timbales, really set them apart. Starting with the song “Pero a Mi Manera“ (1972) which introduced harmonies and arranging concepts new to Latin music, Formell and Pedroso wrote dance hit after hit, many of which have become standards of Cuban music.

In the 1980s and 1990s the band toured extensively and with the support of the Cuban government, made several recordings. And if the genius of Songo wasn’t enough, they also developed the complex rhythmic style that became known as Timba,  this style of music was also adapted by other bands in the ‘90s. Los Van Van soon develped and maintained a loyal fan base throughout Latin America, Europe and Japan propelled by hits like: “La Sandunguera,” “Anda, Ven y Muévete,” “Te Traigo” and “Yuya Martinez.” 

In 1993 Changuito left the band and was replaced by Formell’s son Samuel who also proved to be an outstanding composer as evidenced by songs like “Te Pone La Cabeza Mala”, the title track of one of their best albums. 

Although American politics hindered their ability to break into the U.S. market, their popularity in the U.S. grew throughout the ’90s, and the band toured the U.S. for the first time in 1997, including a memorable concert at Lehman Center. The band won a Grammy Award for Best Salsa Performance for their fifteenth album, Llegó...Van Van -- Van Van is Here and later in 2013, the Latin Recording Academy awarded Juan Formell with a special Grammy for a Lifetime Achievement of Artistic Excellence.

With over 40 albums to their credit, Los Van Van’s latest album Homenaje A Juan Formell: La Fantasia, was 80% completed at the time of Juan Formell’s death.  The album was finished under the direction of his sons Samuel and Juan Carlos Formell. The album’s release in December, 2014 featured several of the band's top dance hits and featured news songs that included 4 compositions created by Juan Formell in honor of the band's 45th anniversary.

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