Rodrigo y Gabriela Set New Album Release
Area 52 contains nine of Rod and Gab's favorite songs from their own catalogue re-arranged and re-configured for a 13-piece Cuban orchestra comprised of some of Havana's finest young players, collectively known as C.U.B.A. It's Rodrigo y Gabriela's first recorded collaboration with another group of musicians.
Area 52 was mixed by Rafa Sardina, one of the leading studio musicians in the Latin music world, and arranged by London-based pianist, composer and arranger Alex Wilson. Recording took place in the Miramar district of Havana, Cuba, at Abdala Studios, founded by the Cuban folk hero Silvio Rodriguez, as well as at Rod and Gab's studio in Ixtapa, Mexico. Other players on the record include: bassist Carles Benavent (Paco De Lucia, Chick Corea, Miles Davis), drummer John Tempesta (The Cult, Testament, White Zombie), sitarist Anoushka Shankar and drummer Samuel Formell (Los Van Van).
"The album is called Area 52 because we felt like Mulder and Scully approaching this -- it was just a crazy idea, to see if a big Cuban band could play our music, a step in the dark. We knew it was out there, everyone has heard of Area 51, but we wanted to take it a little further," Rodrigo says. "We saw it as a trip into the unknown, an experiment," he continues. "Okay we knew the producer, and had spoken to the arranger on Skype; but we didn't know the musicians or the studio, or Cuba for that matter."
Fresh from scoring Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Hans Zimmer, Rod and Gab headed for Cuba in the summer of 2010 armed with their guitars, unplayed arrangements and a sense of intrepid trepidation. They had met Asher, known for his work with James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, 10,000 Maniacs, Diana Ross and others, as well as doing A&R at Apple Records, while working on Pirates of the Caribbean and came up with the idea for Area 52 shortly thereafter.
Asher says: "Rodrigo and Gabriela are two of the most extraordinary musicians with whom it has ever been my privilege to work. >From Gab's complex multi-voice one-woman rhythm section to Rod's searingly creative lead lines, they are forging genuinely new, exciting and viscerally powerful music."
While mindful of the rich history of Cuban music, Rod, Gab, Asher, Wilson and Sardina were keen to imbue the project with the vitality and brio that are synonymous with the fierce guitar duo. "We have great love and respect for the well known Cuban musicians," says Rod, "but it was really important for us to seek out the best young players in Havana." He adds: "Our music is high energy, high intensity; and we wanted guys who could interpret our vision and match our approach."