Melbourne, Australia-based producer and musician Jake Savona has had a long love affair with the music and culture of Jamaica, releasing a string of critically and commercially successful reggae and dub albums with his recording project Mista Savona.
Eventually Savona discovered Cuban music — and he began dreaming of a collaborative project that would bring top musicians from Cuba and Jamaica together to collaborate on material. In 2015, Savona received a great from the Australian Council that funded his ambitious project. Both countries are connected by common African roots and colonial histories and yet the music of Cuba and Jamaica have largely traveled in separate lanes. And while both countries individually have had an immeasurable influence on music globally, their influence on one another have generally been less evident.
The acclaimed Aussie musician and producer along with Sly & Robbie (drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare) traveled to Cuba and began recording in EGREM Studio, where Buena Vista Social Club and a number of equally legendary artists have recorded material. More sessions followed, many other artists invited to take part and after years of painstaking effort, Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston was released in 2017 to worldwide acclaim.
Slated for release next year through Cumbancha Records, Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 continues the bold and ambitious mission of its predecessor — bridging the incredibly diverse and important music cultures of Cuba and Jamaica. The album features a deep lineup of artists collaborating together including Jamaican stars Clinton Fearon, Randy Valentine, Prince Alla, and Micah Shemaiah, Cuban stars Barbarito Torres, Changuito, Brenda Navarette, Solis and Beatriz Marquez, as well as a lengthy list of others from both countries.
Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston Part 2‘s latest single “Beat Con Flow” can trace some of its origins back to 2015 when Savona first saw Cimafunk performing with Interactivo, years before Cimafunk became a household name in his native Cuba. The backing band, which featured Sly Dunbar (drums), the late Winston “Bopee” Bowen (guitar), Gaston Joya (bass), Julito Padrón (trumpet), Savona (piano, Hammond organ) and DJ Wasabi (turntables) recorded an infectious and hook-driven, strutting party anthem that’s indebted to old school reggae, hip-hop and pop.
Later Cimafunk recorded his vocal parts at a small, rundown Havana recording studio, bragging in Cuban slang that he’s dope and spits fire on the mic — and that along with the backing band, that’s providing the infectious funk that will make you get up, dance and forget your problems for a little bit. 2020 has been difficult for all of us, and the song offers the much-needed fun and upbeat vibes our exhausted hearts and souls need right now.
Directed by Rick Mereki, the recently released video for “Beat con Flow” features beautiful brown and Black people dancing to the song in a variety of colorful and interesting spaces from graffiti covered streetscapes, living rooms, clubs and an abandoned pool.