Retrospective of the Great Cuban Tres Player and Bandleader

Arsenio Rodriguez isn’t simply the creator of son montuno but the father of modern Cuban music. The towering presence of this musical giant and his contribution to Cuban music can be compared to the parts Robert Johnson played in the development of blues or Duke Ellington to the history of jazz.

Son has always occupied a central place in the history of Cuban music. Cuba’s first original popular style, son was born from European and African influences mixed in fairly equal parts and by the 1920s its original style was firmly established. It has continued ever since to provide the foundation for all Cuban music and to be the parent of the latest trend of popular music. In the early history of son, standing at the very pinnacle were three groups: Sexteto Habanero, Septeto Nacional and Trio Matamoros, the first two of which established the basic lineup consisting of seven musicians. The leader of Septeto Nacional, Ignacio Piñeiro was the first to make up a composition method for son. What Arsenio Rodríguez did was to develop and nurture son during the 1940s. He inherited the tradition but expanded its musical range, succeeding to create an altogether deeper, more dynamic and denser sound.

Until he died in 1970 in the USA, the prolific career of Arsenio Rodríguez can be divided between the time he lived and worked in Cuba and New York. Each of his recordings demonstrates a certain originality and uniqueness, yet the years when he was at his peak were during the 1940s in Cuba. At that time, his group featured its greatest lineup and was at the height of its popularity in Havana. Their performances have turned out to be some of the greatest masterpieces in the history of Cuban music. This album features recordings mainly from this period, together with recordings from just after he formed his first band, and from Arsenio’s time in America. It is therefore a document of the golden age in Cuban music. The tracks are arranged in chronological order to show how Arsenio created his own sound and then developed it further,

Compiled by Japanese music journalist and producer Katsunori Tanaka, ‘El Rey Del Son Montuno’ features 22 tracks, 72 minutes of music and a 20 page booklet detailing the life of Arsenio Rodriguez and the story behind each of these masterpieces, together with rare photos.