TORONTO AFRO-CUBAN ENSEMBLE OKAN RELEASE TITLE TRACK FROM FORTHCOMING ALBUM ESPIRAL
LISTEN TO ESPIRAL
ALBUM OUT OCTOBER 9 VIA LULAWORLD RECORDS
JUNO-NOMINATED AND INDEPENDENT MUSIC
AWARD-WINNING GROUP BLEND HISTORY
HERITAGE, STORYTELLING AND SPIRITUALITY
Toronto, ON – July 24, 2020 – Toronto-based JUNO-nominated ensemble, OKAN, deliver a new song today. Espiral (Spanish for ‘spiral’) is the title track from their forthcoming album, due October 9 via Lulaworld Records, blending sonic elements both classic and contemporary, while honouring their Cuban roots. Listen to Espiral here.
“The title track, Espiral, is an arrangement that we did of an Afro-Cuban chant we first heard in December of 2018. It’s not as well-known as many chants and comes from the Arará sect (or denomination or tribal tradition) of the Santeria religion, as opposed to the Lucumi sect of the religion,” OKAN says of the song’s inspiration. “We then decided to mix this Afro-Cuban chant with another genre called guajira from the Eastern countryside of Cuba. This hasn’t been done before, or at least we don’t know of.”
Following up on their Juno-nominated, Sombras, and Independent Music Award-winning debut release, Laberinto, OKAN’s sophomore album, Espiral, delves deeper into the group's rich Cuban roots, finding renewed inspiration in this musical heritage. Taking their name from the word for heart in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, OKAN fuses these powerful elements with jazz, folk and global rhythms. The Santeria influences are most evident in the opening track, Espiral, which uniquely blends folk genres of Eastern Cuba with Santeria-derived chants.
Showcasing the stunning vocals, violin and percussion of co-leaders and composers, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne, Espiral features contributions by leading Canadian Cuban artists Telmary Diaz, Miguel de Armas, Hilario Duran, Roberto Riveron, Alexis Baro, Frank Martinez and Pablosky Rosales.
A highlight of the album, Águila, honours the strength of women who make sacrifices to better the lives of their families. Written for Elizabeth’s aunt, who had to leave her husband and daughter in Cuba while she immigrated to the U.S., the piece moves from sorrow to rediscovered strength that derives from family, faith and tradition. See below for a complete tracklistng.
OKAN's music spans the worlds of jazz, folk and global roots. This is reflected in the group's touring activity with invitations from leading festivals such as Mariposa, Sunfest, Blue Skies, and Lotusfest as well as San Francisco, New Mexico, Jaipur and Toronto Jazz. Recent projects have included a live appearance with Polaris Prize winner, Lido Pimienta and recording for the upcoming release of Colombian electro-cumbia superstars, Bomba Estereo.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist who served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Magdelys Savigne hails from Santiago de Cuba and graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of the Arts. Both are also Grammy-nominees for their contributions to Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, of which they are former members.
Stay tuned as OKAN’s unwinds more music from Espiral, and join them for their upcoming performances below.
July 31 – Toronto Jazz Festival live stream via JAZZ.FM – Tune in here
August 8 – Livestream of Blue Curtain Concerts festival performance – Tune in here
August 14 – Livestream concert – co-presented by National Arts Centre, Lula Music and Arts Centre and Philadelphia Folk Festival – Tune in here
Espiral - Tracklisting
8. Baila Canada
9.Pie de Photo
Buy/listen to Espiral: lnk.to/Epiral-by-OKAN
OKAN acknowledges the generous support of FACTOR,
Canadian Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council: