Roots of Rhythm
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Long before World Music became a record store staple, Americans were singing along to the sweet sounds of Celia Cruz and dancing to the rhythmic beats of Tito Puente.
Harry Belafonte hosts this globe-trotting, star-studded celebration tracing the history of the popular sounds we call Latin music, from tribal celebrations in African jungles to Cuba's wild carnivals and New York City's hottest nightspots.
This critically acclaimed production highlights an incredible array of dancing and musical performances from world-renowned stars including Gloria Estefan, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Desi Arnaz, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Isaac Oviedo, King Sunny Ade and many more.Don't miss this celebration of the explosive sound that has the whole world dancing.
DVD Features: Interactive Menus; Scene Selection
Latin music has always been a fixture in American popular culture, but its history reflects centuries of change and complexity from diverse sources. Roots of Rhythm, an incredible three-hour film originally shown on PBS in 1997, traces the development of this exciting musical genre, going back 500 years across three continents. Hosted by the famed Caribbean American entertainer Harry Belafonte, the film begins in West Africa, in the villages that ring with the ancestral anthems of sacred Yoruba beats and bata drums. The focus shifts to Spain, where modern-day troubadours sing their haunting, Moorish-tinged ballads and Gypsies dance their heated flamenco dances. Those musical influences are brought together by the transatlantic slave trade in the island of Cuba, where enslaved Africans and Spanish immigrants mixed and melded each others' music into a myriad of new, hybrid creations like the rumba, tumba francesa, danzon, and mambo. Belafonte quotes a poet who said, "Cuban music is a love affair between the African drum and the Spanish guitar."
In America, this love affair bloomed in New York, where Cuban and African American jazz musicians like Machito, Mario Bauza, and Dizzy Gillespie melded mambo rhythms to bebop, creating Latin jazz. Belafonte then brings us to the dazzling timbales master Tito Puente and vocalist Celia Cruz, who reigned as the king and queen of salsa, the stateside version of Cuban dance music that emerged in the '60s. The film offers revealing interviews and music clips with many Latin music stars, including Gloria Estefan of Miami Sound Machine and Panamanian Rubén Blades. The rare archival footage features Dizzy Gillespie's 1948 number "Manteca," bandleader Xavier Cugat's "Gypsy Mambo," and a cartoon clip of Donald Duck doing "Tico Tico." After watching this engaging and encyclopedic film, you'll never dance to Latin music the same way again. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed was the look at everyday life in Cuba, and the discussion of the U.S. role in that country's history. Without hammering away at the fact, Belafonte discusses our government's unwillingness to recognize Cuba's sovereignty, and expresses his hope that music will break down the barriers. But politics aside, this video series is a must-see for any student of African American music, and Spanish American heritage.
Get it! I am!