Sincopatres - Cuban Jazz Train
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Cuban Jazz Train featuring Calixto Oviedo:

Cómo Suena


This is exactly how you would expect Afro-Cuban music to sound in this day and age; romantic but without an ounce of sentimentality, which, sadly, is the road that many Latin American artists go down. Either that or they try and reinvent the idiom, both of which seem to dilute the tradition to the extent that it turns into something not remotely like what it was intended to sound like. There is, however, nothing wrong with making the music danceable, but when the musicians (and I shall not name names) get too cute.


Cuban Jazz Train, as the short note suggests, attempts to redefine the relationship between the Afro-Cuban idiom and its doppelgänger – Jazz. Both come from the same root, and both are born of African polyrhythm. One is Spanish-inflected and the other is blues-inflected. And when you combine the two you get almost the same result. So in the hypothesis of Cuban Jazz Train, the musics are contiguous. While this may be so, the clave of Afro-Cuban music makes it distinct from the altered fifths of Jazz. And yet it can be – magically – combined to make both musics stronger. Even the AACM found this to be so when Art “Turk” Burton melded his congas with Henry Threadgill and the other musicians of that forward-thinking group of musicians.




Calixto Oviedo is a Latin Grammy nominated artist (2000 La Rumba del Siglo) and is endorsed by Gretsch Drums, Tycoon percussion, Soultone Cymbals and Vic Firth. Calixto has had the opportunity to play with numerous internationally known artists including Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chucho Valdes, Danilo Perez and many others with a career that spans over 38 years.


Calixto Oviedo was born on October 14, 1955 in the Havana Barrio of La Vibora. Calixto’s earlier musical memories were at the age of two or three, waiting in front of the television, toy violin in hand, to play along with performances of his favorite band, Orquesta Aragon. It was at the advanced age of four, however, that it became clear to the young prodigy that his true calling was to play the drums. The toy violin was discarded in favor of a plastic bucket, several cans, and a frying pan, all of which he played with drumsticks fashioned from coat hangers.


He joined the conservatory at the age of eight, but by then he was already a formidable player and started paying with a professional band. He formed his own band at the age of 17 with various future players of the NG La Banda. He was the drummer with NG La Banda during the period that produced many of their greatest recordings, including Santa Palabra, Échale Limón, and El Trágico.


In the mid-90's, he relocated to Sweden, during which time he made an excellent Timba recording, "La Recompensa" with his son Yulién, and other key members of Charanga Habanera. He was also the drummer for the Afro-Cuban All Stars band. Calixto moved from Stockholm to Lakewood, CO in July of 2013. Since then he has been performing and teaching clinics at major United States Universities, such as University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA), and Berklee College of Music. He has been honored to play at this various festivals around the world: Feria de Cali, Colombia; Montreaux Jazz Festival, Paleo Rock Festival, Carnaval in Panamá, Nice jazz Festival, France; Roskilde Festival, Festival de Salsa en Madrid, Spain; North Sea Jazz Festival, Netherlands; Antillansefeesten, Belgium; Festival de Salsa en Barcelona, Spain; Umbria Jazz, Italy; Couleur Café, Belgium; Festival di San Remo, Italy; Riga Ritmi Festival, Latvia; Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Denmark; Nordischerklang, Germany; Gottingen Jazz Festival, Germany; Red Sea Jazz Festiva, Eilat – Israel; Imatra Big Band Festival, Finland; Umeå Jazz Festival, Sweden; Oslo World Music, Norway; Salsa Festival, Madrid, Spain; Feria del Pacifico, Peru; Frutas Tropicales, Helsinki – Finland; Molde Jazz Festival, Molde, Norway; Udine jazz –Italy; A Sulle Bocce –Italy; Montreal Jazz Festival –Canada; Portland Jazz Festival; Sun Festival –Singapore.


As of October 1st, 2014 and currently, Calixto became a professor at the California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA).

Wall Street Journal


NY Culture

Afro-Cuban Drummers at Unite Jazz Standard

Tracing the Course of Afro-Cuban Percussion Through the Veins of American Music



Larry Blumenfeld

July 8, 2013 8:50 p.m. ET


Growing up in Havana, drummer Calixto Oviedo studied classical music at a conservatory. He was entranced by various forms of Cuban music, especially the interplay of flute and violin in the celebrated group Orquesta Aragón. A fascination with American jazz soon followed.


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