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May 6, 2021

Byron Bay musos set to create history in Cuba

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Producer Eric Coelho is set to make music history by recording the first-ever collaborative album by Jamaican and Cuban musicians. Photo SAE
Producer Eric Coelho is set to make music history by recording the first-ever collaborative album by Jamaican and Cuban musicians. Photo SAE

Producer and keyboardist Jake Savona (aka Mista Savona), audio lecturer Eric Coelho and a small team of Australian musicians and filmmakers will record and document the world’s first-ever collaboration between Jamaican and Cuban musicians in Havana this month.

Coelho, who teaches studio production and live sound at SAE Creative Media Institute in Byron Bay, said he was thrilled to be play a part in creating an outstanding and original album that showcased some of the most celebrated, talented and dynamic musicians in the world.

‘Despite the close proximity of Cuba and Jamaica, and being two of the world’s most influential musical nations, there’s been very little collaboration between these two islands,’ Coelho said.

‘The project stems from our dream to create an incredible album that explores, develops and records new styles and sounds that have never been shared with international audiences – and to film every moment of it,’ he said.

Coelho will be assuming the roles of sound engineer and Spanish interpreter during the trip.

He said the landmark project had secured the involvement of some of the world’s most influential artists, including:

  • Jamaican rhythm and production duo Sly and Robbie, who have produced and recorded with Gilberto Gil, Santana, Grace Jones, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Sinead O’Connor
  • Leroy Sibbles, described as the ‘greatest all-round talent in reggae history’
  • One of the most important Cuban percussionists of all time, Jose Luis Quintana (aka Changuito)
  • Jamaican hand-drummer, percussionist and singer Bongo Herman, who has recorded alongside Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff
  • Rising star Randy Valentine who has enjoyed international fame since collaborating with Major Lazer.

In another world-first, the album will be sung in Spanish, English and Jamaican Patois.

The artists will spend eight days composing and improvising at Havana’s famed Egrem studios during June.

The album will be mixed and mastered in Australia.

Coelho, who also works as a sound engineer with famed Australian music outfits such as the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Bustamento and Wolfmother, said the project demonstrated the power of music to affect cultural and social change.

‘I’m really excited about sharing the outcomes of this project with students at SAE campuses in Australia and the United States,’ he said.

‘It will be amazing for me to talk through our experiences with the students – to demonstrate all the production phases involved in bringing something like this to fruition, right down to how we mic up someone’s drum kit.

‘I’ll have footage and photographs that tell a story, from concept to completion and everything in between.

‘This is history in the making. It’s a story that needs to be recorded and shared.’

The group are running a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to support the project.


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