Sue Miller – Cuban Flute Improviser, Writer & Academic

Charanga del Norte Gig 10 June at the Wardrobe LeedsApril 28th, 2022

Charanga Del Norte + Rumberos De Palo

Tickets Charanga del Norte at The Wardrobe

Leeds/UK salsa/Cuban/Latin music pioneer DJ and promoter Lubi Jovanovic celebrates 40 years working in music this year (1982-2022). He’s throwing a few special parties in Leeds to celebrate this landmark including a big live Cuban/salsa/Latin jazz event at The Wardrobe on Friday 10th June. The venue has been the centre of Lubi’s live Latin music shows for over 2 decades now, ever since he brought his legendary ’90s night Casa Latina here in 1999. This gig will also be in the fringe program for inaugural Leeds Jazz Festival which is happening across the city from 1st-12th June.

There are two bands playing. One he has worked with since 1999 (Charanga Del Norte) and one which is a brand new band of musicians studying at Leeds Conservatoire today (Rumberos De Palo). A hot night of Cuban music and rhythms, New York pachanga sounds and smoking Latin jazz. Definitely the live Latin music show of the summer in Leeds.

Charanga del Norte (Charanga from the North) was set up in 1998 in Leeds by the bandleader/flute improviser Sue Miller. They are a 12 piece group of Leeds and London musicians who play Cuban dance music (son, mambo, cha cha cha) in the classic “charanga” style featuring flute, violins/cello, piano, bass, congas, timbales, hand percussion and vocalists. They played their first live shows at DJ Lubi’s legendary Casa Latina nights in Leeds, including at The Wardrobe.
For those unfamiliar with “charanga”, its  roots are in “danzon”  which evolved in the 19th century in Havana. In the 1940s, danzon and charanga were modernised and gave birth to the “mambo” and by the 1950s, charanga would spread to New York, taking the mambo and it’s slower cousin the cha-cha-cha to the Big Apple. Charanga became hugely popular there with the Latin American diaspora communities as well as the non-Latin mambo dancing crowd and a New York variant of charanga became hugely popular and promoted as “pachanga”  at this time.

Sue Miller studied Cuban flute improvisation in Havana with the legendary Richard Egües from Orquesta Aragón, the best known Cuban charanga orchestra of all time. Her band have toured the UK many times in the last 23 years and have performed at prestigious venues such as The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and The Barbican in London supporting Buena Vista Social Club’s Eliades Ochoa, Orquesta Aragón and Changüi de Guantanamo. The band features the cream of the crop from the UK salsa scene including flautist Sue Miller (who has played with legendary Cuban and New York-based charangas Estrellas Cubanas, Orquesta Barbarito Diez, Charanga de Oro, Orquesta Sublime, Charanga Soleil and Orquesta Broadway), pianist Kim Burton (Sonido de Londres and Roberto Pla Latin Ensemble), bass player Ruth Bitelli (Candela/La Clave), singer Guillermo Monroy (Merengada and Los Musicos), and percussionist Andy Warner (Septeto Siboney/Salsa y Ache). In the string section they have original members violinists Nick Williams and Jon Lindh (violins), cellist Andy Wardale (Hallé Orchestra) and Angela Antwi-Agyei from the ground-breaking Chineke Orchestra.

They have released 5 albums since 2008 and celebrated over 20 years in the business with the launch of their latest album Pachanga Time back in the summer of 2020. It was also their first vinyl release. It had great responses worldwide, from Colombia to Tokyo, New York to Copenhagen. However, due to the Covid pandemic, they couldn’t gig to promote the album. So this will be the belated Pachanga Time album launch and also the first Charanga Del Norte live show in over two and a half years.

Since this show is part of the Leeds Jazz Festival, the support band is Rumberos de Palo, a Leeds-based Latin jazz band led by Spanish trumpeter Víctor Estévez.

Before, between and after sets, DJ Lubi will play his trademark mix of salsa and Cuban music (son Cubano, cha cha cha, mambo) to keep the dance floor busy (just as he’s done for the last forty years across the UK and abroad), and delivering another great DJ Lubi night of live Cuban, Latin and salsa music in Leeds at The Wardrobe.