The London-based nine-piece band are a hot melting pot of identities with backgrounds that span the world map: Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Ghana, Congo, Spain and the UK. Wara formed in 2009 and soon found that they were doing what no one else was: namely portraying what Latin Americans face when moving to UK, using the music to bend stereotypes, genres and combine stories. "We reinterpret what has already been done [in Cuban music] so it applies to young people living here in the UK in 2013," says Latina powerhouse Eliane Correa, MD and keyboard player. The rest of the line-up includes Congolese-Argentinean lead vocalist Juanita Euka (niece of legendary Congolese musician Franco), London's Josh Solnick aka MC Murmur (from London's Afro Dub hip-hop crew FUR) as multiple-personality lyricist. Add to this Afro-Cuban songstress Nana Aldrin Quaye on backing vocals, London's own George Cole on bass and Taurean Antoine-Chagar getting soulful on the saxophone. The rhythm section is held down by Venezuelan Ernesto Marichales tight on percussion, and Chilean Leandro 'Lele' Mancini on drums. Greg Sanders-Gallego plays guitar, his West African inspired riffs adding another geographical twist to the Wara sound.
The album also features an array of guest musicians, including vocals from Cuba's up and coming Yanaysa Prieto (Grupo Jade) and Afro-Cuban Folklore dancer and vocalist Grechen Méndez, as well as some of the top exponents of Havana's new generation of batá drumming in "Pide a Yemayá". London-based Cuban violin virtuoso Ernesto Estruch (Ska Cubano) adds soaring strings to "Leave to Remain" and "Pide a Yemayá", and on the brass front Justin Thurgur (Bellowhead, Lokkhi Terra) and Graeme Flowers (Kylie Minogue, Lokkhi Terra) join Wara in the studio to give some extra flavour to the horn lines.
Wara have been packing dancefloors and starting parties on the London global scene for the last two years. In the last few years they've played at Glastonbury, The Big Chill Festival, Secret Garden Party, Barbican's Blaze Festival, the Roundhouse, Ronnie Scott's, to name a few. Glastonbury and the Secret Garden Party have asked them back this year, 27/28 June and 27 July respectively, and their big album launch gig will be taking place at London's Jazz Cafe on 7 August.
With contagious, in-your-face vocals, inspired keyboard playing, a super tight Latin/UK mix on the rhythm section and their MC quick on the rhymes, Wara's musical energy is palpable. If there was ever a collective sound that could embody the collision of Cuban and UK music scenes as well as the world at present in all its multi-faceted beauty and madness, this is it.
"Socially conscious, upbeat and joyous … The forthcoming album sees a funkier, more mature Wara than the timba popstrels of yore. The sizzling 'Leave to Remain', a reflection on the racism and hardships suffered by UK refugees and asylum seekers ('who make so much of the amazing music in London right now'), is a case in point." Songlines 2013
"They mash Cuban jazz-funk, clubby beats and smart hooks – track "Flesh And Bone" is a Latin-London blast." Single of the week – Metro
"Wara are at the cutting edge… of the musical pulse." Lopa Kothari, BBC Radio 3
"Wara are young musical revolutionaries who simply ignore convention…they represent the true sound of contemporary Latin London in the 21st century." Lubi Jovanovic (UK Latin DJ/Promoter/Journalist)
"A work of Latin-London genius, an album whose impeccable fusion between experimental form and insightful content makes it a compelling, unique and socially important release." ***** Sounds and Colours
"Jazz, bossa nova, rap, salsa, cha-cha-cha and ska are blended seamlessly into a pulsating dominant Cuban core producing highly danceable and ear-soothing tracks like Somewhereland which deals sensitively with the exodus from Cuba." Morning Star
"Wara combine music, words, joy, and social awareness in such a way that as you listen to them your feet can't keep still and neither can your brain, and that's got to be a good thing!" Ian Macmillan, The Verb, BBC Radio 3
'Leave To Remain' track-listing:1. Somewhereland 4:042. Leave To Remain 5:013. Pide A Yemayá 5:134. No se vende 5:245. Flesh and Bone (acoustic) 4:246. Run for Cover 5:097. Caprichoso 5:098. Caprichoso (Subculture Sounds remix) 4:00
Wara links:Website: http://www.movimientos.org.uk/wara-cuban-latino-salsa-timba-band-london.html Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/waramusicTwitter: @WaramusicSoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wara-uk'Leave To Remain' album sampler (6:22 mins): https://soundcloud.com/movimientos/wara-leave-to-remain-album