About

Conjunto Guantanamo

Our fun band ushers in the salsa party and will keep everyone dancing, swinging, and feeling good at any type of festival or event. Trip the light fantastic with us as we strive to bring our audiences authentic traditional Afro-Cuban Son Montuno, Cha-Cha-Cha, Mambo and more with a modern twist.

Conjunto Guantánamo - Sizzling Ambassadors of Cuban Folklore - have arrived with a freshly interpreted, classic Afro-Cuban sound. Lively percussion, pounding syncopated bass lines, brazenly exotic trumpet melodies, uninhibited improvisation and the sultry, sexy, dynamic lead vocal of Pepito Gomez positively scorch in a variety of vintage and original compositions. Conjunto Guantánamo unite the precision and cadence of traditional Afro-Cuban music with the raw energy and edge of New York City’s unique nightlife. Salsa lovers rejoice! Conjunto Guantánamo brings you the origins and essence of what music lovers today mostly know as Salsa.

Conjunto Guantánamo's soulful sound is layered with authentic Cuban swing and sophisticated influences like "el barbaro" Benny More, Arsenio Rodriguez, Roberto Faz, and Miguelito Cuní. Playing authentic traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms like Son Montuno, Cha-Cha-Cha, Mambo and Rumba with contemporary energy, their performances sometimes transition into extended experimental descargas -- a type of Afro-Cuban improvisational jam session -- using musical motifs straight from the streets of Havana and Matanzas, as well as some modern day Timba combined with the very spirit of New York City.

Since Conjunto Guantánamo was founded in 2003, they’ve become highly visible on the NYC nightlife scene, performing at festivals, dance parties, and events and venues as diverse as The Museum of Modern Art and the grand opening of the IKEA store in RedHook (an all weekend affair!). The band inspires thousands of New Yorkers and visitors to swivel their hips in the name of Latin passion. Sting, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers, Mickey Rourke, Leonardo DiCaprio, and other stars have made surprise audience appearances at places like the West Village's celebrated Socialista, where Conjunto Guantánamo have previously played a weekly residency.

Founder Ulises Beato along with Pepito Gomez, Itetsu Nasuda, Carlos Mena, Oscar Oñoz and Hector Torres are the unique and celebrated musicians who create this unique sound. You can find Conjunto Guantánamo at select venues around New York City and the Tri-State area just about every week. Just follow the smoking beat and the baile apasionado - or please check our calendar here

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Ulises Beato - congas and vocals, director    (http://www.facebook.com/UlisesBeato)

Cuban-American Ulises Beato was born in New York City's Washington Heights area in 1966 and relocated with his family to Miami, Florida in early 1973. For the next 21 years he was raised within the freshly exiled Cuban community that had largely been gathering there since 1960. Early on, Ulises absorbed the traditional Cuban music, culture and Afro-Cuban religious practices of his parents and extended family. Young Ulises was transfixed the first time he attended a sacred "toque de santos" or "a playing for the saints". Though only eight years old at the time, he remembered the instruments and music he heard and saw for the first time at his godfather’s house in the 1970s, with their rustic appearance and a bewildering polyrhythm unlike anything he'd ever heard. This experience left an indelible mark on Ulises helping shape his musical inclinations throughout his life. For his ninth birthday, an aunt gave him a 12-inch LP of various traditional sacred "toques" and for a time he became obsessed with this music; it was then that he started to internalize the complex folkloric rhythms of his parent's native Cuba. Later he briefly studied violin with his grandmother and taught himself rock bass for a while before studying jazz trumpet with several teachers including Jim Rotundy and Jack Cassidy. Eventually Ulises settled on Afro-Cuban percussion finding his true musical calling and bringing full circle his adventure within his musical universe.

After moving back to New York City in 1994, Ulises discovered a side of Cuban music that he felt had been largely overlooked in Miami. Although he had experienced the religious side of Cuban music many times around Miami throughout his years there, Ulises realized that there was a whole flip side of popular Cuban music that had been largely overlooked by his Miami counterparts in favor of newer, more Americanized (and more available) genres like salsa, salsa romantica, disco and rock. "Back then,” says Ulises, “ I was able to discover a wide variety of Cuban musical recordings around NYC's underground nightlife and on the local radio stations. Surprisingly, I seldom encountered that while growing up in Miami's Cuban communities of the 1970s and post-Mariel boat lift 80s.”.

 

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