BACK TO LOS ZAFIROS FILM
Produced and directed by Lorenzo
THE TIME: The early 1960’s
At the height of cold war xenophobia between the United States and Cuba, Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro square off and the world counts down to nuclear holocaust.
THE PLACE: Havana – Post-revolutionary Cuba
Against the backdrop of the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, two youths from the tough musical district of Cayo Hueso decide to form a vocal group.
To those whose lives they briefly touched, Los Zafiros are legends. A musical phenomenon molded by their time and place, The Sapphires caused a sensation in Havana and beyond throughout the 1960’s and into the early ’70’s. Though they enjoyed international acclaim, touring widely throughout Europe, Los Zafiros have remained in relative obscurity throughout the U.S. as a result of the political climate of the cold war.
Though they enjoyed international acclaim, touring widely throughout Eastern & Western Europe, the group has remained in relative obscurity outside of Cuba. Their brilliant mix of American-inspired Doo-wop touched by Afro-Cuban rhythms, Salsa, Son and other traditional Latin forms can best be described as “World music” before there was “World music.”
“LOS ZAFIROS - Music from the Edge of Time” explores the memories of Manuel Galban and Miguel Cancio, the two surviving members of Los Zafiros, as they are reunited in Havana. The film also features the perspectives of numerous Zafiros family members in Miami and Havana, international musicologists, and musical colleagues of the group.
Inspired by 1950’s American vocalists like The Platters, The Mills Brothers and The Modernaires. Leoncio ‘Kike’ Morua and Miguel ‘Miguelito’ Cancio, formed Los Zafiros in Havana’s Cayo Hueso neighborhood. During a series of auditions, Miguel and Kike found their next member, Ignacio Elejalde, working in a Havana hair salon. His voice displayed a passionate counter-tenor working in the highest registers imaginable.
The fourth singer to join was the tall and
handsome EDUARDO ELIO "EL CHINO" HERNANDEZ, whose smooth ways
and piercing delivery would make him and Kike the resident heartthrobs
of the group. Add to this the talents of composer/advisor JOSE ROBLES
DIAZ, OSCAR AGUIRRE DE FONTANA, Los Zafiros composer and their first
guitarist, and composer / arranger NESTOR MILI and the group was born.
In 1963, after Oscar's departure for the United States in early 1963,
Manuel Galban, already a recognized musician in Cuba met with the
quartet to discuss the job of guitarist and musical director. After
hearing Galban play his unique rock-n-roll licks and Duane Eddy-like
surf music, the boys knew they had the fifth man on the team. The
sensuality of their musical and personal style soon brought them a rabid
female following and heavy air play on national radio, making them very
much the Beatles of 1960s
Four decades after the group's formation, Los Zafiros popularity continues to this day, sparked by the successful 1998 release of the Spanish-language feature film "ZAFIROS - LOCURA AZUL", and of the "BOSSA CUBANA" CD from World Circuit Records ("Buena Vista Social Club"). On a popular battle-of-the-bands style radio program hosted by Adrian Mesa of 92.3 Classica-FM in Miami in December 2001, Los Zafiros receive a majority of the call-in votes compared to their competition. Cuban immigrants living in Miami lavish enthusiastic praise on the group and wonder what has become of the Cayo Hueso Doo-wop group that once captured the world’s attention.