Manuel Galbán began his musical career in Gibara, a small fishing town in the Holguin province of western Cuba. After playing guitar and tres in various local youth groups, Galbán got his first professional gig in 1944 as the Orchestra Villa Blanca's thirteen year-old guitar prodigy. Galbán's artistic ambition soon propelled him to Havana, where he instantly became recognized as one of the most exciting players on the port city's music scene. After moving there in 1956, he spent seven years performing with various groups in pubs and nightclubs, making frequent appearances on radio programs and recordings. In 1962, a playful young vocal group formed in the Cayo Hueso musical district of Old Havana. They called themselves Los Zafiros and boldly borrowed from American popular culture: namely the doo-wop sound cultivated by groups like the Platters and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Founded by singers Leoncio "Kike" Morua and Miguel "Miguelito" Cancio, Los Zafiros quickly ascended to stardom with their unprecedented blend of R&B, calypso, bolero, bossa and the rich pastiche that is Cuba's musical heritage. By 1963, Los Zafiros' vocal lineup was tight and stable, having grown to include the high-registered counter-tenor Ignacio Elejaide and the heartthrob Eduardo "Elio" Hernandez. But the group couldn't seem to find the right guitarist; several came and went in the first two years of Los Zafiros' history. Then someone suggested the singers check out Manuel Galbán, whose otherworldly, surf-riffed electric guitar sound made him a much-discussed fixture on Havana's club circuit. The affinity was instant. "Galbán," Miguelito insisted, "from now on, you're working for us. You're exactly what we're looking for." And with that, Galbán became the group's legendary guitarist, pianist and musical director. Los Zafiros' went on to be one of the most successful Cuban groups of all time, generating a rapid stream of hits in Havana's EGREM studios, beginning with the virtuosic "La Caminadora." One highlight is a fabled performance at Paris' Olympia that earned the group an eleven-minute standing ovation. That audience included the Beatles, who were so impressed by Los Zafiros that they had changed their own itinerary to stay in Paris an extra week and see the group play. Galbán contributed so much to the group's sound that the distinguished Cuban pianist Peruchin once said, "to replace Galbán you would need two guitarists." He functioned simultaneously as Los Zafiros' imagination and its foundation-both musically and offstage. Like any number of similarly popular bands, Los Zafiros fell victim to fame's excesses: too much drinking, too little sleep, etc. The most grounded of the five Zafiros, Galbán worked hard to keep them together in spite of persistent personal disputes amongst various members of the group. He left the Los Zafiros in 1972, and soon thereafter the group dissolved. Ever the maverick, Galbán leapt from ten years with the notoriously troublemaking Zafiros into a three-year stint with Cuba's national musical ensemble, the Dirección Nacional de Música. Following this path to its extension, he spent the next 23 years as director, guitarist, vocalist and pianist for Havana's Batey group, touring across four continents and serving as a Cuban musical ambassador to the rest of the world. In 1998, Galbán also joined the traditional Cuban group Vieja Trova Santiaguera, with whom he has toured extensively and recorded two highly acclaimed albums. Galbán's mining of his Cuban musical roots culminated in his work with the Buena Vista Social Club. He accompanied the group on their journey to becoming the biggest phenomenon in the history of world music, playing guitar on the recordings of Ibrahim Ferrer and Orlando "Cachaíto" López." During his days with the Buena Vistas, he developed a rich musical exchange with Ry Cooder, who is in many ways a sort of American analog to Galbán. The creative dialogue between Cooder and Galbán resulted in recording sessions in Havana during 2001 became Mambo Sinuendo, an amazing reunion between two different musicians that have create a unique sound , and incredible duo released in January 2003. Says Cooder, "Galbán and I felt that there was a sound that had not been explored-a Cuban electric-guitar band that could reinterpret the atmosphere of the 1950s with beauty, agility, and simplicity. We decided on two electrics, two drum sets, congas and bass: a sexteto that could swing like a big band and penetrate the mysteries of the classic tunes. This music is powerful, lyrical, and funny-what more could you ask? Mambo Sinuendo is Cuban soul and high-performance twang." With extremely good critics and with a great success on selling this album was nominee on 2003 for the Latin Grammy Awards , won the award for the Down beat Magazine as best Jazz Act on 2003. On 2004 Manuel Galbán & Ry Cooder's "Mambo Sinuendo" is awarded with the Grammy™ for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Since 2003, Manuel Galban has been touring with Ibrahim Ferrer worldwide on more than 100 shows. He is a key musician and his guitar sound has given this prestigious show the soul and the groove of one of the best Cuban guitarist ever.
montuno.com Ibrahim Ferrer Omara Portuondo Roberto Fonseca Manuel Galban Ale Siqueira Cachaito Lopez