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Awards for World Music 2007 - Culture Crossing
Ska Cubano

Ska Cubano album cover
Ska, Jamaica’s primal sound, first shook the Western world in the early 1960s then revitalised early-80s British popular music when The Specials and Madness charged the charts with their post-punk party groove. Since then ska has become an international music form, yet has been largely forgotten in the UK. Or so it seemed: Ska Cubano are gaining more attention than any home grown ska band since 1980’s 2-Tone pioneers. Perhaps the interest is because Ska Cubano, as the name suggests, aren’t 100% British. Lead by South London face Natty Bo, the Camberwell-meets-Santiago outfit mix ska and mambo to create a sound both nostalgic and new.

Investment banker Peter Scott’s desire to fuse ska and mambo – Jamaica and Cuba are neighbouring islands, both blessed with musical genius yet very different in sound and language - found Natty in Cuba inventing Ska Cubano. Their 2003 self-titled debut album suggested a band on the verge of finding a new fusion. Sophomore album !Ay Caramba! fulfils the potential their debut hinted at: imaginatively crafted, brimming with melody, wit and a joyous fusion of rhythms, this album’s about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. The UK public paid attention and Ska Cubano have since triumphed at Glastonbury, Big Day Out, Womad and pretty much every other UK festival going. No wonder: in concert few bands match Ska Cubano for presence and performance. The twelve-piece band are fronted by Natty and Cuban vocalist Beny Billy. With four horns and three percussionists they cook up a huge sound.

Natty Bo, a white Londoner who speaks in a Jamaican accent and wears brilliant mohair zoot suits, is the kind of character novelist Colin MacInnes once celebrated. Matching him is Beny Billy, a black Cuban singer who favours patterned black zoot suits and sings like an angel. Together they’re a musical Butch and Sundance, flashy characters who stand alone amongst the dowdy chaps of contemporary British music. Ska Cubano’s big hearted and very bright joy is to be applauded.

Garth Cartwright

Ska Cubano on the web 
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Great ska band...... The winner must be Ska Cubano

Bobbi Ebsen, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
LOVE IT! sexy, vibrant, provocative, soul-bearing rhythm!

Joanna, Whitehead
My friend bought me a ticket to see Ska Cubano as an early birthday present. Turned out to be the best birthday party I've ever had!! Natty Bo & Co are just brilliant, so much energy and enthusiasm. We danced non-stop! Check them out ASAP!!

Paul East London
Saw these guys live at the Ealing Jazz Festival last year. Take my advice - if you get the chance, go and watch them. Awesome, truly awesome. Energetic and with a feel good vibe, these guys had the place rocking. Utterly brilliant!

clarerose Winchester
Fab, feelgood, hugely talented musicians and great live at Larmer Tree

Ron White
Terrific: energetic, vibrant, cheeky, original mix of old and new.

jaimz, london
fabulous, need more of this

Paul Moogan Liverpool
A fantastic idea, two great records and a brilliant vibrant live act.They deserve more than to be the best kept secret on the live circuit.(How's about the beeb filming them next time they play the Mac in Birmingham as the last 2 gigs have been tremendous).

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