the protagonists

The people who make up Cuba's music. Well-known and lesser-known musicians who carry the sound of the whole country.

César López

César López

César López began learning music at school at the age of ten and won his first music prize just three years later. He studied at the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte from 1985. Very soon he became a member of one of the most famous bands in Cuba: "Irakere". In 1997, he founded his own band "Habana Ensemble", which still enjoys a high degree of fame in Cuba and with which he has won many prizes. He was introduced to jazz by the jazz legend Bobby Carcassés, whom he met during his studies.

Bobby Carcassés

Bobby Carcassés, born in 1938, grew up listening to the music of Beny Moré, Conjunto Casino and Roberto Faz. He began his musical career as an opera singer before switching to Cuban music. He founded the band "Afrojazz", with which he gave concerts all over the world and achieved international fame. In 1980, he organised the first "Jazz Plaza Festival", which is not the only reason why he is still considered an icon of Afro-Cuban jazz today. In 2012, he was awarded the Cuban National Prize for Music.

Dr. Olavo Alén

Prof. Dr. Olavo Alén was born in Havana in 1947 into a family of musicians. He studied music at the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, and also at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He was the first Latin American ever to be awarded the Humboldt Prize for his thesis. From 1980 to 1993 he was a music professor at the Instituto Superior del Arte in Havana. He has taught all over the world, for example in Switzerland, the USA, China, Finland and Brazil.

Yissy García

Yissy García is a composer and percussionist and was born in 1987 as the daughter of a percussionist in the music-influenced centre of Havana. Through her father, she came into contact with the Cuban music scene in her childhood and was already studying music at school at the age of nine. She received an invitation to play in the national symphony orchestra when she was still a student, won numerous prizes and performed with Cuba's most famous musicians.

Alain Pérez

Alain Pérez is a singer, musician and music producer who masters many different instruments. He is at home in Cuban timba, but also in jazz, salsa and flamenco. Pérez grew up in a small Cuban town and was initially musically trained by his father. From the age of eleven, he studied music at a conservatory and later at the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte. From there he was taken by Chucho Valdes into the then most famous band "Irakere". He played in various bands and was nominated for a Grammy for his work.

Marina Ruíz Garmendía

Marina Ruíz Garmendía is the founder of the social children's project "Niñios en la frontera" and the Comparsa dance group "Los Conguitos de la Lisa". The idea behind this is to use the power of the tradition of Afro-Cuban roots, music and dance to gain access to children in socially deprived neighbourhoods and to give them a positive perspective on life. For many years, Marina has led the project with great success, helping hundreds of children to a better future. As a priestess of Afro-Cuban religion, Marina leads the dance ceremonies and rituals of the deities of the Orichas.

Kurt Hartel
Cesar Lopez and Kurt Hartel

Direction Kurt Hartel

Kurt Hartel, born in Nuremberg in 1946, holds a doctorate in physics and has been active in research, but also as a jazz musician, mountaineer, skier and entrepreneur. His numerous occupations and varied interests have taken him around the globe, but no country has made such a lasting impression on him as Cuba and its rich culture. Kurt Hartel's fascination with Cuban music and his long-standing passion for the medium of film eventually led to the idea for his heartfelt project, the cinema documentary "La Clave - A Mistery of Musica Cubana", which he realised with his production company LAUTRAZfilm, founded in 2017. Today Kurt Hartel lives in the Munich area.

Cast & Crew