The Heart of Cuba: Musician Profiles

Elspeth

Elspeth Savani: Vocals, Orisha ceremony

While attending Wesleyan University, Elspeth studied classical voice West African drumming and South Indian vocal music. After receiving her BA in Music, she immersed herself in classical voice performance. Shortly after moving to Seattle, Elspeth joined the City Cantabile Choir with whom she performed “Orin Odara,” a choral homage to the Orishas of Cuban Santaria, her first introduction to Cuban music. Elspeth promptly put her classical pursuits aside and immersed herself fully into the study of congas, Cuban dance and folkloric music, and Spanish language.

Not long after, Elspeth founded the Cuban Big Band group, Orchestra Zarabanda, which she has directed and with whom she has performed for over a decade. In 2007, Elspeth was nominated for “Best Emerging Artist” by Earshot Jazz. She has also been the recipient of numerous grants from both Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and King County 4Culture. In partnership with percussionist Jeff Busch, guitarist David Trejo and actress Mayra Laura Castanos, Elspeth has developed educational outreach programs and performances that introduce Latin music to audiences throughout the Northwest. These projects have included a bilingual, multi-media children’s show and a large-scale Cuban dance and music retrospective.

Ricardo

Ricardo Guity: Congas, percussion

Ricardo Guity specializes in the Garifuna percussion style but is equally at home performing Latin rhythms from many cultures. Ricardo has performed alongside major names in the music industry, including Babatunde Olatunji, Youssou N’Dour Ibrahima Camara (African and world music), Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Tipica 73, Cuco Valoy (Latino) and others. Ricardo continues to work with Wesley Deerying and other members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Michael Clune Tumbao, MangoSon, Super Mukako, Global Heat and others groups in the Northwest.

David

David Trejo: Acoustic guitar, vocals

David Trejo was born and raised in Mexico City. He studied guitar at Escuela de Iniciacion Artistica, D.F., and Escuela de Musica, Universidad De Guadalajara. From 1977-79, David toured Mexico playing guitar and charango with the folkloric dance troupe Tenayo. David arrived in Seattle in the 1980’s and founded two Mexican ensembles – Los Huitlacoches and Los Nopalitos. Having loved Cuban music since his youth, he traveled to Cuba several times to study and perform. David co-founded the Seattle based Cuban Son groups Son de Cinco a Siete and Los Nietos del Son.

Kevin

Kevin Connor: Cuban tres guitar, vocals

Kevin Connor has been a professional guitarist, composer and vocalist for over ten years. He has studied the music of Django Reinhardt and the “gypsy jazz” of the 1930’s and 40′ and is immersed in the thriving Seattle string swing community. He fell in love with the Cuban tres guitar after traveling to the Caribbean to study medicine in the late 1990’s. Since then, he has continued to study Cuban Son music and the tres. He currently plays guitar with the gypsy “string-swing” ensembles Hot Club Sandwich and The Djangomatics.