Kool & the Gang sing in Havana

HAVANA – Robert “Kool” Bell, leader of the U.S. rhythm and blues group Kool & the Gang said Dec. 20 that the group’s concert scheduled that day at Havana’s Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune would be dedicated to the fraternity and unity of the peoples.

At a press conference held at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Bell explained that he did not come as a politician but as a musician.

He noted that there has always been an important relationship between the music of his country and that of Cuba, a fact that so far has not changed.

He said the inspiration for this visit was his father – an outstanding boxer of the 1950s who fought in matches on the island and who greatly admired its music and culture.

Bell said he expected to have very good exchanges with Cuban musicians, an experience from which he’d like to draw a lot of energy to be instilled into his music and that therefore he had as special guest for his concert the great Cuban trumpeter Alexander Abreu.

Dyana Williams, president of the International Foundation of the African-American Music Association, who coordinated this visit of Kool & the Gang to Cuba, said that coming here was a special moment and he considers it a historical cultural exchange.

For his part, trombonist Clifford Adams said he has traveled worldwide with the band, that people want the same everywhere – peace, and that although the distance and differences create stereotyped propaganda, when you visit them and talk to them people turn out to be beautiful.

George Brown, the band’s percussionist, said that all over the world people can appreciate a good song, that he knows Cubans like quality music and that this is the reason why they make an effort to turn every new piece into a celebration.

Kool & the Gang was founded in 1964. Its leading members are Robert “Kool” Bell on the bass, Ronald Bell on tenor sax, George Brown on the drums, Robert Mickens on the trumpet and Dennis Thomas on the alto sax.

Also part of Kool & the Gang are Claydes Charles Smith on the guitar, Clifford Adams on the trombone, and Rick Westfield on the keyboards.

Originally posted at www.cubanews.ain.cu/2009/1220koolandthegang.htm.

Photo: cubanews.ain.cu