Leadership of the dynamic Grupo Afrocuba has been passed on like a fat stalk of sugarcane among brilliant instrumentalists who inevitably first pass through the ranks of band membership. Saxophonist Nicolas Reinoso was the original director of the group, starting off in 1977 with the idea of mixing together Cuban roots music with newer styles such as jazz and even jazz fusion. The full name of the ensemble is Grupo Afrocuba de Matanzas, denoting the band's original home base, roping it in with other local talent such as Los Munequitos de Matanzas. Reinoso set up a three-piece saxophone section involving the brothers Carlos Acosta and Fernando Acosta, buffered with trumpet and an interesting rhythm section in which a bassline was sometimes played by a pair of guitars.
Pianist Ernan Lopez-Nussa assumed the role of supreme commander from Reinoso, effecting a kind of coup from the backline in which the percussionists Mario Luis Pino and Anselmo Febles continued storming further and further forward.
Further changes in membership did nothing to diminish a reputation growing through international exposure and national prizes. Trumpeter Roberto García may have felt that his execution of the high notes consistently required in the group's arrangements granted him the right to begin issuing orders circa the early '90s. What all these leaders of Grupo Afrocuba have had in common is a consistency in the commitment to create a combo sound as singular as a DNA cell. ~ Eugene Chadbourne