|LAS ONDAS MARTELES|
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|The music of Las Ondas Marteles has been a steadily growing phenomenon in Europe, where Label Bleu has released Y despues de todo to substantial critical acclaim. On the album, the trio—which consists of the brothers Sébastien and Nicolas Martel, and the bassist Sarah Murcia—sets to music lyrics by a censored Cuban poet and artist. Naming it the #1 Album of 2004, the London Times called Y despues de todo “as beautiful and tuneful, in its eccentric way, as anything to come out of the Buena Vista Social Club.” A four-star MOJO review described it as “unlike anything else that has come out of Cuba in the past decade.” Las Ondas Marteles will bring Y despues de todo to North America for select live performances this month, including three New York shows and The Montreal Jazz Festival.|
In 1999, on a trip to Havana, the French musician Sébastien Martel met a stranger who turned out to be a bohemian sculptor-poet named Miguel Angel Ruiz, who had written prolifically but anonymously since the Cuban government deemed his poetry and art criminal. Ruiz spoke to Martel at length about art and life and eventually entrusted him with a few original songs.
Around the time Sébastien Martel was in Cuba, his brother Nicolas, who is also a musician, had been in Mexico. When they were both back in France, the bothers realized they had fallen in love with the same kind of music: bolero, a sentimental music that was born in Cuba during the 19th century and spread on rum and tobacco boats to Mexico as well as Puerto Rico and Columbia.
The brothers began rehearsing boleros together and were soon joined by Sarah Murcia. Together they formed Las Ondas Marteles and began playing shows together in 2000. The group’s early repertoire included Ernesto Lecuona’s “Siboney” and Carlos Gardel’s “Volver”—a tango easily transformed into a bolero—as well the compositions by Ruiz.
In 2001, news arrived that Ruiz has died. The trio considered it their mission to make his songs known and decided to record an album dedicated to him and his music. The album, Y despues de todo, beautifully reveals the singular style of bolero Las Ondas Marteles created around these compositions. The recording includes samples of Ruiz’s voice and laugh as well as musical contributions from Miguel Angel’s daughter Idelis (vocals), Ibrahim Maalouf (trumpet), and Vincent Segal (cello, percussion). The London Times has described it as “an intimate masterpiece.”