Los Van Van

Genres: World
Decades Active: 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


Songwriter/bass player Juan Formell (Havana, Cuba) formed Cuba’s enigmatic Los Van Van in 1969 after a year of tutelage under renowned band leader Elio Revé in Orquesta Revé. Often credited with the invention of ‘songo’, a new Cuban sound influenced by rock, jazz and Brazilian music, Los Van Van became one of the Cuba’s most influential and progressive dance bands of the post-revolutionary era. While songo’s beat is essentially a funky ‘son montuno’, it also uses the violin and flute sound of charanga, making Los Van Van’s sound one of the most sophisticated in salsa. Despite these airs, Los Van Van is decidedly against élitism - their shows are always dance parties, and their songs tell the stories of the everyday Cuban citizen. However, the most important change the band incorporated was the electrification of salsa music, led by fusion-style electric bass and synthesizers. Los Van Van pioneered hybrid...

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