From the First Drums to the Mambo
The sheer size and historical precision that makes this volume essential is a bit surprising coming from the author who takes pride in being non-academic. The first two chapters, for instance, offer a fascinating narrative that explains the complex formulation of Iberian culture. When the Cuban story finally kicks in with chapter five, Sublette makes the most of his prehistory to create a visceral and astute vision of the island as incubator of musical revolution. Most of the story has been told before, but rarely in such painstaking detail, and Sublette's easygoing and engaging writing style makes the reading almost painless, although sometimes his analysis is overly determined by politics. His most important accomplishment is combining information from rarely translated musicological works from Cuba with data from his active involvement with surviving giants of the music to produce one sustained, living history.
'Cuba and Its Music is an extremely even-handed study. Sublette's research is monumental. Even in Spanish there is nothing so thorough. His writing is as vivid and fast-moving as the music he loves.... He has added a major work to the tiny canon of social histories of music - perhaps even the grandest of them all' - Robert Christgau, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Ned Sublette, cofounder of the record label Qbadisc, coproduced the public radio program Afropop Worldwide for seven years. A writer, record producer, and musician, he lives in New York City and has travelled to Cuba extensively since 1990.
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Edition: Paperback (670 pages), 2004.