Afro-Cuban roots-fusion group Sintesis wins Latin Grammy for ‘Ancestros Sinfonico’

This November Cuban supergroup Síntesis (‘synthesis’ in English) won a Latin Grammy ‘Best Folkloric album’ at the awards in Las Vegas USA for ‘Ancestros Sinfónico’ – the recent re-imagining of their monumental groudbreaking album ‘Ancestros’ (‘Ancestors’) from the late 1980s which fused Yoruba songs with rock and pop.

The original group was founded by husband and wife Carlos and Ele Alfonso, and many other musicians such as Esteban Puebla and Lucía Huergo contributed to the group, as well as the couple’s children X Alfonso and Eme Alfonso who went to become musicians in their own right. [X Alfonso also founded the FAC the labyrinthian multi arts centre in Havana created in a former cooking oil factory.]

This latest Latin Grammy award winning album called ‘Ancestros Sinfónico’ (‘Ancestors Symphony’) was produced by X Alfonso on his own FACMusic label, is an homage and reinvention at the same time of that original album from 35 years ago.

The album is described as “a love story, of a son for his parents, a family proud of its legacy”. The 10 original tracks have been turned into a symphonic suite, with arrangements inspired by the work of musicians linked to the history of the band, and assisted by Leo Brouwer.

In the liner notes top Cuban composer and musician Leo Brouwer describes the group and this new album:

“We think of Síntesis as the first group to fuse Afro-Cuban ritual music with contemporary pop music (jazz, rock, electronic, folk, world music, Cuban popular genres) with a very high quality, playing with sound experimentation, but above all, avoiding cliches.

Síntesis appropriates the most authentic African music expressed in its Afro-Cuban (transculturated) rites. With a very respectful elaboration of Yoruba music (lucumí), of its rhythms and songs, they are at the same time transgressors by nature by desacralizing their original ritual function. Síntesis was captivated by the dramaturgical potential of these musics, African first, Afro-Cuban later and from them they create their own “poetics” connected to contemporaneity.”

“In music of African origin, the profane and the sacred are closely linked. A kind of “popular religiosity” is located on the threshold of the daily life of Cubans.

X has selected nine orishas (gods): Elegguá, Oggún, Oshosi, Babalú Ayé, Changó, Obbatalá, Oyá, Yemayá and Oshún to make up this album. It opens with Lázaro Ros, our elder apkwón, who leaves us in trance with his initial prayer (in Aggo Moyugbá).

X gives us a music-cultural imbrication (African songs, symphonic sonority, gospel choirs, batá drums, using current compositional language) conducive to a postmodern aesthetic. The result? Insuperable! X boasts a remarkable experiential heritage, authentic with its roots. I feel immeasurably happy. Thank you X for allowing me to be your accomplice in the birth of this gift for Carlitos and Ele; for Synthesis for his legacy; for our black music.”

Released in Cuba in May 2022 for free download on the island, the album is also available on online platforms internationally.

Listen to the tracks on bandcamp here

Listen to the tracks in Spotify here

Listen to the tracks on Youtube music here

Carlos Alfonso and Ele Valdés were joined by their children, Eme and X Alfonso, to receive the award.

Report based on reports by Cubadebate and

Photo from