Chappottin: Legendary Cuban Band Plays LA

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Celebrating 50 Years: Conjunto Chappottin y Sus Estrellas (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It’s an embarrassment of riches–of a good thing I mean!

Two weeks ago, the New York group Tipica Novel wove its Cuban charanga magic at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. The group is celebrating their 50th birthday this year. Now we have another legendary Cuban group who is also celebrating its 50th birthday, Conjunto Chappottin y Sus Estrellas coming to Skirball Cultural Center this Thursday on July 31st. For details, click here. I’ll do an hour deejay set from 7-8 pm, then bring on the band at 8pm. Skirball Director Jordan Peimer (who books music for the Skirball’s Sunset Concerts) has removed most of the audience seats so there will be plenty of room for dancers who certainly will show up to demonstrate their mambo and salsa moves.

Conjunto Chappottin was founded by the great Cuban très (3 double-stringed Cuban guitar) player Arsenio Rodriguez (1911- 1970). He is one of the greatest musicians in the Cuban pantheon. Born blind, Rodriguez went to New York City in 1950 to treat his eye disease, at which time he handed over the reins of the band to his first trumpet player, Felix Chappottin. Chappottin then handed the baton to his son Angel, and currently Chappottin’s grandson Jesus Angel Chappottin Coto. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say.

The current Chappottin organization serves up tropical specialties such as son-montuno, country-style guajira and guaracho, mambo, the slower danzón, charanga, bembé and rumba. It’s quite a varied musical menu. The band is based in Cuba, which makes this a special date. Hope to see you there!

Here is the band in its current form; lots of energy, bespoke sartorial style a la Havana’s Tropicana, playing the song “El Carbonero”:

Here is some great footage of the band in an earlier incarnation, but playing the same famous song, with the late Cuban singer Miguelito Cuni (1917 – 1984). This clip must have been filmed in the 1970s judging by the hairstyles and bell-bottoms and the dance called “The Bump”. The dancers are fun to watch.