Alexis and Adonis Puentes grew up playing the earthy, rhythmically sophisticated Cuban dance music called son. With their rich and textured debut CD, Morumba Cubana (Alma Records) the Puentes Brothers extend the traditional form with a series of brilliantly arranged, passionate performances.
Non-identical twin brothers, Alexis and Adonis Puentes were born and lived most of their lives in Artemisa, a small time-worn 19th century colonial town, 60 km southwest of Havana. The boys’ father, Valentin Puentes is a noted guitarist who taught music at the rural town’s cultural center. Alexis began studying clave with his father at four years old, and before the year was out the child prodigy played the Cuban rhythm instrument with his father’s band on national television. At six years of age both Alexis and Adonis began guitar studies with their father.
The twin brothers lived and breathed music, often touring Cuba with a large guitar ensemble. Cuban music stars like Buena Vista Social Club vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer regularly visited the family home, often jamming with the young musicians. Adonis developed into a fine singer and Alexis fell in live with the bass. Playing together, they formed a traditional quintet under the direction of their father. For the first time, they began composing in the traditional son style. Not long after, Alexis won a Cuban national award for one of his compositions using the traditional son form.
In 1995, the family toured across Canada, recording a debut cassette called Los Puentes while visiting Vancouver. Returning to Cuba, Adonis starred in a nationally televised singing competition before joining a Cuban salsa band. Alexis toured Europe and recorded with Havana-based pop star, Augusto Enriquez and added funky, accomplished bass playing to his jazz-fusion band Temperamento’s CD, En El Comienzo, which was voted best Cuban jazz CD in 1999.
That year, Alexis rejoined his brother in Victoria and formed the popular Alexis Cuba Band. They garnered rave reviews for their original son at clubs and festivals throughout western Canada. With a recording contract from Toronto-based Alma Records, the twins renamed their band Puentes Brothers.
In April 2000 the Puentes Brothers entered the studio with veteran producer Peter Cardinali to record their debut CD, Morumba Cubana. While touring North America as a feature performer with the Buena Vista Social Club, Cubanismo! Stalwart and Cuban Star Javier Zalba called his friend Alexis to say hello – this led to Zalba contributing his talents to the recording. Meanwhile, Cardinali gathered a cast of studio professional, Canadian jazz star Jane Bunnett, members of the Toronto Symphony’s string section, and Cuban music luminaries like piano star Hilario Duran, percussion legend Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez (Santana, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Tito Puente), and bata master Pancho Quinto to embellish the Puentes Brothers tradition-based, modern experiments with Cuban son.
Engineers Denis Tougas and Vic Florencia team-up with Cardianli to create a rich, sumptuous soundscape. Alexis demonstrates a fluid mastery and daring improvisation on guitar, bass, and tres, playing off of Adonis’ addictive bongo beats while both Puentes brothers contribute dynamic, passionate vocals and infectious, juicy rhythms on assorted percussion instruments. Grounded in the earthy primal groove of traditional Cuban dance music, Morumba Cubana is a heady, seductive, effervescent sound that brings Cuban son into the 21st century.