“La Habana Buena” – notes by Steve Roitstein
Written by Leslie Cartaya, Roly Rivero, Steve Roitstein. Produced by Steve Roitstein
This song was written in an unusual way, even for us. I threw together some drum loops and a bassline. Then Leslie and I started singing the coro (Eh eh, La Habana) over the loops and it felt great. We wanted to develop some verses with a nostalgic remembrance of Havana from years ago. We asked Roly to help to write the verses, and he wrote some beautiful and poetic lyrics that we loved. Then and Leslie and I adapted them to our verse melody.
As we performed the song live, it began to take more shape. The vocal mambo section just happened spontaneously one night; as the song built tension, it just sort of exploded. It’s fun singing that part!
I love how Leslie delivers the vocal on this song, with an amazing energy and build. Raymer’s incredible timbale solo gives you a quick sample of his mastery. And Ed’s sax playing is awe-inspiring. For the recording, we were lucky to be able to bring in the great Jose Elias to give the Tres (Cuban guitar) loop just the right feel.
When we perform this song live, it often takes some unexpected twists and turns. Usually, the audience sings along with us and really gets into it.