Cuban and Jamaican rhythms meet in Byron Bay

MIXED: Jake "Mista' Savona (right, wearing a hat standing next to the car) surrounded by musicians from Jamaica and Cuba in Havana. LARA MERRINGTON

HAVANA Meets Kingston is the project by Byron Shire producer Jake 'Mista' Savona.

The project brings two musical cultures together in a world-first fusion record and it will be released on November 3.

The release features some of Jamaica's greatest musicians, including Sly & Robbie, Prince Alla and Bongo Herman, alongside Buena Vista Social Club musicians Barbarito Torres and Rolando Luna, Cuba's most influential percussionist Changuito (Los Van Van) and more.

Mista Savona and Randy Valentine played shows together in Europe this Summer, promoting the project for the first time.

A successful fundraiser allowed the producer to fly some Jamaican artists to Cuba for ten days, and meet at the same space where Buena Vista Social Club recorded their iconic eponymous album.

"The music was incredible," he said.

"We recorded two albums worth of material and we have released three singles of that."

The upcoming Byron Shire show will include a live set with Jamaican reggae icon Randy Valantine and Cuban singer Solos, plus Mista Savona.


"This tour we are doing as a live sound system, so I'm Dj-ing but we have some live percussion as well, so I'll be dropping lots of beats from the record, with valantina and Solis performing live," he said.

"People can expect a high-energy show, and we want to make people dance."

Savona began playing piano at age six, and after finishing his music Uni studies in Melbourne and the UK, and describes himself as a keyboard player, composer and music producer.

As a DJ he plays regularly at the Bearch Hotel at reggae nights.

"But for the last two years pretty much my full focus has been this Havana Meets Kingston project," he said.

"I finished my degree in the UK, and there is a very big Jamaican population there but I have always loved reggae.

"I relelased two albums in Australia in 2000 and 2003, and then in 2004 I went to Jamaica for a month, doing some recordings, and that was the beasis for my 2004 album Melbourne and Kingston.

"I go back to Jamaica often, but in 2013 I realised Cuba and Jamaica are very close, so I booked my flight and a 10-day trip. They were playing folklore percussion music and I imagined those sounds mixed with reggae. A project like that had never been done before."

At the Bangalow A&I Hall, Bangalow, on Friday, October 27.

Topics:  cuban havana meets kingston jake savona jamaican mista savona music northern rivers entertainment whatson

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