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Juan Formell: a Cuban legend in Van Van mode

Havana, May 1 (Prensa Latina) A decade ago today, the unforgettable Cuban musician Juan Formell (1942-2014) passed away, leaving the legendary Van Van orchestra, which remains at the top of dancers' preferences in Cuba, as his legacy.

The band, known as the Train of Cuban music, was founded more than half a century ago by this unforgettable composer and guitarist, who made several generations of dancers around the world dance to his “songo” rhythm.

Cuba, where Formell was born, has more than enjoyed his music, marked by songs such as ‘El baile del buey cansao’ (1982), ‘Anda, ven y muévete’ (1984), ‘Azúcar’ (1992), ‘Te pone la cabeza mala’ (1997), ‘Chapeando’ (2004) and ‘La maquinaria’ (2011), just to mention a few albums.

Recently the orchestra, led by his son Samuel Formell, released the album ‘Modo Van Van,’ with renewed rhythms, but without forgetting the distinctive seal that its founder recorded.

It is a permanent tribute to Juanito, as his musicians and colleagues used to call him, and it is also dedicated to bassist, composer and arranger Juan Carlos Formell, his eldest son, who died on May 26, 2023, in New York.

According to articles dedicated to Juan Formell’s artistic legacy, the merit of his creations lay in his concept and ingenuity, because he knew and mastered the exact dosage of music for dancers.

He was an inexhaustible artist, methodical, severe, with Jesuit patience; tenacious as an ant, very demanding, and he was respected for his mastery of music, his prestige and professional seriousness.

The truth is that Juan Formell is the mastermind and architect of the unique and enjoyable Van Van style, from the very moment he founded the band on December 4, 1969, and began to revolutionize popular dance music with his innovations.

It was he who coined the term “songo” to identify his new sound, a fusion of traditional Cuban son, American pop and rock, and Brazilian bossa nova, along with other musical styles.