Havana Meets Kingston (Jamaica / Cuba / Australia)
Havana Meets Kingston is an ambitious project that brings together top musicians from Cuba and Jamaica to blend the deep roots grooves of reggae, dancehall and rocksteady with the scorching soul of son, timba and salsa. While connected by common African roots and colonial histories, the music of Cuba and Jamaica have traveled largely in separate lanes. Their influence on the music of the world has been immeasurable, but their influence on each other has been less evident.
It took an Australian to bring these two rich musical cultures together. In 2015, Melbourne-based producer and musician Jake Savona, aka Mista Savona, traveled to Havana with a group of top Jamaican musicians, including the legendary Sly & Robbie (drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare), and they began recording in the iconic EGREM Studio where Buena Vista Social Club and countless other legendary records have been produced. More sessions followed, other guests were invited, and after years of painstaking effort, the first volume of Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston was released in 2017 to worldwide acclaim followed by Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 in 2022.
On this reggae version of the classic bolero-son “Lagrimas Negras” (Black Tears), Savona invited legendary Cuban singer Beatriz Márquez whose career as a singer began in 1970. Originally composed by Cuban composer and singer Miguel Matamoros in 1929, “Lagrimas Negras” is one of Latin America’s most recognized melodies, although it has never been done in a reggae style like this until now.