“Like most Americans, Cuba seems like a dream, a land of rhythm and rum, of Ricky Ricardo and revolutionaries, baseball greats, gangsters, casinos, classic cars and big cigars. But for me, it’s the home I’ve never known, the place that my parents were formed, who in turn formed me. The roots of my musical soul have been reaching for Cuban soil my entire life. And now the reality is beyond my wildest dream.”
So remarks Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter of The Mavericks and bandleader Raul Malo near the start of Great Performances: Havana Time Machine, a pioneering music documentary, one of the first U.S. productions since travel restrictions have opened up in Cuba.
Born Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo, Jr. to Cuban parents in Miami, the versatile roots-rock music singer embarks on a musical and historical odyssey through the present-day Cuban capital in the program, a US/Cuba collaborative musical showcase.
Hermetically sealed by the Cold War for more than half a century Cuba remains, for the vast majority of Americans, the “Undiscovered Country,” a unique time capsule of cultural traditions, relatively untouched. But the recent thawing of Cuban-U.S. relations is forging new relationships based on collaboration. The evolution of the Revolution creates a unique opportunity for a unique presentation to showcase the tropical kaleidoscope that is Havana’s musical scene, past, present and future.
Documented by richly atmospheric camera work, Malo visits such iconic locales as the grand boulevard, the Paseo del Prado; a small apartment/recording studio in Nuevo Vedado; the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA); the former farm estate of Ernest Hemingway; and Los Jardines De La Tropical, a once-magical beer garden now overtaken by jungle. Along with way, Malo has musical encounters with such luminaries as Eliades Ochoa, an original member of the famed Buena Vista Social Club; acclaimed Cuban singer Ivette Cepeda; Sweet Lizzy Project, a modern Latin indie-pop band; and piano-jazz maestro Roberto Fonseca. The beloved band The Mavericks perform music from their highly acclaimed new album Brand New Day (Mono Mundo Recordings).