Cuban Music from A to Z

Cuban Music from A to Z

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 151 illus. Published: March 2004

Author: Helio Orovio

General Interest > Reference, Latin American Studies, Music > Popular Music

Available in English for the first time, Cuban Music from A to Z is an encyclopedic guide to one of the world’s richest and most influential musical cultures. It is the most extensive compendium of information about the singers, composers, bands, instruments, and dances of Cuba ever assembled. With more than 1,300 entries and 150 illustrations, this volume is an essential reference guide to the music of the island that brought the world the danzón, the son, the mambo, the conga, and the cha-cha-chá.

The life’s work of Cuban historian and musician Helio Orovio, Cuban Music from A to Z presents the people, genres, and history of Cuban music. Arranged alphabetically and cross-referenced, the entries span from Abakuá music and dance to Eddy Zervigón, a Cuban bandleader based in New York City. They reveal an extraordinary fusion of musical elements, evident in the unique blend of African and Spanish traditions of the son musical genre and in the integration of jazz and rumba in the timba style developed by bands like Afrocuba, Chucho Valdés’s Irakeke, José Luis Cortés’s ng La Banda, and the Buena Vista Social Club. Folk and classical music, little-known composers and international superstars, drums and string instruments, symphonies and theaters—it’s all here.


"Cuban Music From AtoZ avoids the unfortunate politicization of music and culture that is legacy of political divisions among Cubans. Included in the work are figures such as Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, Willie Chirino, and Albita Rodriguez who reside or resided in the United States. . . . [T]his work is a valuable resource that advances, for both novices and experts, the knowledge of one of Cuba's great gifts to the world: its music." — José M. Vadi , Studies in Latin American Popular Culture

"A comprehensive English-language reference for anyone with an interest in Cuban music. . . . The encyclopedic organization means terms are easy to find; entries are concise but interesting and full of detail. . . . This volume is truly a 'tribute to Cuban music and its musicians.'" — Publishers Weekly

(Starred Review) "An amazing survey of Cuban musical styles, dances, instruments, and personalities. . . . Concise, factually detailed, and rigorously informative. . . . This will make a terrific addition to all music and academic libraries; it is the only in-depth resource on Cuban music. . . ." — , Library Journal

"[R]emarkable. . . . a rare and most unusual reference work illustrating the innumerable facets relating to Cuban Music. I recommend it to the many followers of the art." — Al Merritt , Jazz Now

"[T]he English-speaking world now has an excellent reference source on the music of Cuba." — Ralph Hartsock , American Reference Books Annual

"[U]sers will find that Orovio and the editorial team for this edition have admirably documented the richness and transcendent power of Cuban music." — Janet Sturman, Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies

"Concise yet remarkably detailed and extensive, Cuban Music from A to Z is a welcome addition to the growing bibliography on Latin music. . . . [It] will no doubt become an indispensable reference for anyone seriously interested in Cuban music." — Fernando Gonzalez, Jazziz

"Readers and the jazz listening audience who enjoy Cuban music will want to own a copy of Cuban Music from A to Z. . . . Covering the full range of dance, styles, performers, composers, and related subjects, this is a pleasing book to read at your leisure. Much, much information is given in a crisp, highly readable format. This is a must-have reference book for your Cuban section in the home library, and a nice book to have on hand for library patrons at the Public Library."

— Lee Prosser ,

"This dictionary is an indispensable source for music journalists, the student of Cuban music, and scholars alike. The entries are concise, accurate, and informative, providing dates and places of birth and death for musicians, composers, and other important figures in Cuban music history." — David F. García , Notes

"With more than 1,300 alphabetical entries (from Abakuá, a form of music that originated in Africa, to Eddy Zervigón, a New York City flutist and bandleader), this volume is a comprehensive English-language reference for anyone with an interest in Cuban music." — Latin Jazz Network

This encyclopedia is ideal for an undergraduate reference collection, as subject entries can be consulted for a short answer to a general question or the entry can become a point of departure for more through investigation.” — Gregg Engstrom, Music Reference Services Quarterly

“Helio Orovio’s book is a basic reference tool for any serious researcher, or any fan, of Cuban music.”
  — Ned Sublette, musician, cofounder of Qbadisc, and author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Helio Orovio is a musicologist and historian with the Institute of Folklore and Ethnology of Cuba’s Academy of Sciences. He is the author of El bolero latina and Música por el caribe and the host of the Cuban television show Arte y Folklore. He is also a musician who has played with many bands including Conjunto Jovenes del Cayo.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface vii

Acknowledgments viii

Introduction ix

List of Abbreviations xi

Organizational Structure of the Entries xi

Cuban Music from A to Z 3


A. Musical Instruments 233

B. Music Magazines 233

C. Orchestras and Bands 233

D. Theaters 234

Works Cited 235
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc European Union

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3212-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3186-5
Publicity material