Peer to Peer with Gaudi and Mista Savona
London-based dub producer and musician Gaudi, known for his chart-topping works with Steel Pulse, Horace Andy, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Mad Professor, Mykal Rose, Maxi Priest, Johnny Clarke, Hollie Cook, Max Romeo, Don Letts, Desmond Dekker, African Head Charge, The Beat, Capleton, Scientist, Dub FX, Barrington Levy, Dennis Bovell and Adrian Sherwood, and Australia’s leading reggae producer / musician Mista Savona, known for his production works for Alton Ellis, Anthony B, Sizzla, Capleton, Burro Banton, Horace Andy, Sly & Robbie, Big Youth, Clinton Fearon and Turbulence, joined forces and created the monumental project HAVANA MEETS KINGSTON IN DUB, featuring a line-up of over 30 Jamaican and Cuban musicians, who blend traditional Rumba with Reggae’s rumbling basslines and roots rhythms!
VP: Gaudi and Mista Savona, what brought you together to create Havana Meets Kingston in Dub?
GS: Gaudi and I have known each other (and each other’s production works), for over a decade now, we worked together in the past on a series of productions for different artists, including Sizzla, Randy Valentine and Solis, agreeing that the combination of our two distinctive sounds was working really, really well, with Gaudi’s dub psychedelic-infused production techniques and my organic reggae textures, so we decided to collaborate on this ambitious album project that brings Cuban and Jamaican rich cultures together.
VP: Tell us about some of the artists featured on the album?
GS: The original recording sessions occurred in Cuba and Jamaica, at Egrem Studios in Havana (where Buena Vista Social Club recorded their multimillion-selling album) and Tuff Gong Studio in Kingston (Bob Marley’s studio in Jamaica), by Mista Savona, then Gaudi dubbed and mixed the sessions at his Metatron Studio in London UK.
The lineup consists of reggae stars Sly & Robbie on drum and bass, Ernest Ranglin and Winston ‘Bopee’ Bowen on guitars, percussion by Bongo Herman and Shaun ‘Bugzy’ Anderson, and vocals from Jamaican stars such as Cornel Campbell, Prince Alla, Lutan Fyah, Leroy Sibbles (The Heptones), Cali P, Aza Lineage & Randy Valentine to name just a few. On the Cuban side the album features Rolando Luna (piano) and Barbarito Torres (laud) of Buena Vista Social Club fame, percussionist Changuito of Los Van Van, Yaroldy Abreu & Julito Padron of Irakere, Oliver Valdes from Havana Cultura, and vocalists include Brenda Navarrete, Maikel Ante, Solis, and Eugenio ‘El Raspa’ Rodríguez.
VP: What was it like to record this project?
GS: The recording process was certainly not easy, as uniting geographically distant musicians under the same roof is a very complicated mission. Basically for this project 4 countries have been coordinated, Savona from Australia did it all, traveling up and down between Cuba, Jamaica, Melbourne and London, where Gaudi resides.
He first traveled to Cuba in 2014 and on his last day in Havana, he was struck with a vision: he could imagine the sounds of Cuban rumba mixed with Jamaican Nyabinghi, the spiritual & folkloric styles unique to each island.
A year later, Savona returned to Cuba, joined by a quartet of Jamaican legends including drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, guitarist Winston “Bopee” Bowen (known for his work with Dennis Brown) and Studio One percussionist Bongo Herman. They spent the next ten days at the Egrem Studios recording many of Cuba’s top musicians and vocalists. More sessions followed, other guests were invited, and after years of painstaking effort, the full-vocal version of Havana Meets Kingston was released in 2017 to worldwide acclaim.
Gaudi started working on this dub album in 2018, at his Metatron Studio in London, with the vision of maintaining the essence and authenticity of the original sessions but enhancing the beauty of the performances to the extreme, working on a specific production treatment with his analogue equipment, to gave justice to these magnificent amalgamation of sounds. For the final phase Mista Savona joined Gaudi and recorded additional mixes and overdubs.
VP: Why is this project so special?
GS: Perhaps because it’s the tangible representation of how much music has no boundaries, has no language limits and how much freedom it continually offers us. We think we (humans) just need to be a bit more mentally open and not limiting ourselves with classifying music into “genres”, there’s no need to assign tags to it, music is FREEDOM and for this we must leave it free! 1LUV