by Cris Franco
On Friday, August 25 at 8:30pm the newly renovated Ford amphitheater will come alive when Cuban super-banda Síntesis and violin virtuoso Dayren Santamaria join forces for a musical celebration. The talented, L.A.-based Ms. Santamaria took time from her busy rehearsal schedule with her band Made in Cuba, to answer a few a questions about the upcoming cultural convergence.
CRIS FRANCO: The southland’s proud Caribbean-American community are already buzzing about seeing you and Síntesis together on stage. How have your roots fueled your creativity?
DAYREN SANTAMARIA: I’ve been in love with Cuban music and rumba since I was little. In Cuba, I used to dance at home whenever any rhythmic Afro-Cuban music played on our radio. My soul, body and whole universe would transport itself through that beautiful feeling of a child dancing in the kitchen surrounded by loving family singing, cheering and dancing with joy. Joyful, not because of what we had or didn’t have. But a pure joy fueled by our beautiful culture. And that’s what keeps the machine of my life moving; my Cuban roots are my family, my music and it energizes me. It picks me up and pushes me forward every time I fall down.
CF: You’re a celebrated artist having performed in a variety of genres with many notable acts from Grammy-nominated Latin jazz ensemble Mongorama to musician/actor, my friend and great guy, Andy Garcia. How would you describe your musical style?
DS: My style is simple. I’m a lover of beautiful melodies and dancing rhythms. I blend them together as much as I can while sharing my truth, passion and compassion with the audience and the whole world.
CF: And judging from your many accolades the world has warmly welcomed your artistic contributions as your latest CD, Bellaza, was released in 2015 to rave reviews. Síntesis is an iconic rock group and this is their first Los Angeles appearance in 16 years. How does performing with the ensemble that’s been christened the “greatest Afro-Cuban progressive rock group” impact your performance?
DS: I fell in love with Síntesis when they did the project with Lazaro Ros. Their synthesis of Cuban folklorico (Afro-Cuban religious chants and dances) and rock was just perfect. And when you combine those rich African rhythms with any other music — the beauty just flows everywhere, into samba, bossa, blues, salsa, Afro-Cuban jazz. Everywhere.
CF: I’ve heard more than one of your paisanos express that to be from “that most beautiful island” is a source of great joy and sorrow. Do you have any comment on Cuba’s present regime and the U.S.’s new harsher policies towards “la isla mas bella?”
DS: If only for three years, more people were able to travel to Cuba to study, experience the culture, and feel the joy in people’s hearts. As a musician, as an artist, our job is to infuse the universe with positive energy that can transform troubles into beauty via our art. Our art is our instrument to enhance global understanding and bring out the best in everyone in the audience and those listening to our music on the radio, on the phone, TV or computer.
CF: That’s a very life affirming way of looking at things. And many people are looking forward to your upcoming show. What can audiences expect at your concert at the Ford?
DS: They’re going to hear great music. Some tunes from our last CD Belleza and some new tunes from this coming album that we are working on and hope to record at the end of 2017.
CF: As a bandleader, skilled interpreter of the violin and teacher of musical arranging you really are walking the walk and talking the talk as to how impactful and rich a musician’s life can be. What is your message to the world as to the power of music?
DS: Music and all the arts can transform. With a humble and compassionate heart, our art can transform bitterness into sweet healing melodies with the perfect touch of rhythm — and spice!
To see the inspiring Ms. Dayren Santamaria doing what she does best, making the world a better and happier place through music, log onto Ford Theater.