HAVANA MEETS KINGSTON (Jamajka/Cuba/Australia)

While connected by common African roots and colonial histories, the music of Cuba and Jamaica have traveled largely in separate directions. Their influence on the music of the world has been immeasurable, but their influence on each other has been less evident – until now. That’s why HMK is a so special project.

On June 3, 2022 an epic set of 15 tracks, “Havana Meets Kingston Part 2” was released. They unite the deep roots grooves of reggae, dancehall and rocksteady with the scorching soul of Cuban son, timba and salsa.

It took an Australian to bring these two musically rich cultures together. Melbourne producer and musician Jake Savona had already fallen in love with the music of Jamaica, having released a string of successful reggae and dub albums under his stage name Mista Savona since 2007. He first traveled to Cuba in 2014 and on his last day in Havana, he was struck with a vision: he could imagine the sounds of Cuban rumba mixed with Jamaican nyabinghi, the spiritual & folkloric styles unique to each island.

A year later, supported by a grant from the Australian Council, Savona returned to Cuba, joined by a quartet of Jamaican legends including Sly & Robbie (drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare), guitarist Winston “Bopee” Bowen (known for his work with Dennis Brown) and Studio One percussionist Bongo Herman. They spent the next ten days at the legendary EGREM studios recording with many of Cuba’s top musicians and vocalists. “It felt like a project that wanted to be born, and I was the one lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time,” recalls Savona.

More sessions followed, other guests were invited, and after years of painstaking effort, the first volume of Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston was released in 2017 to worldwide acclaim. By 2018 a live version of the project had performed three world tours, culminating in an incendiary show for the BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall in the summer of 2018.

The first single “Carnival” was a triumphant anthem and a song that speaks about the transformative power of music. It featured the Randy Valentine’s Jamaican flow and Solis’ very special Cuban voice and opened a new chapter in the history of Caribbean music – the perfect mix between two languages and two styles.

Shortly thereafter Savona was back in the Caribbean to work on new recordings with a range of famous and rising stars in the Cuban and Jamaican music scenes. Much of this new record was also recorded at the famous EGREM Studio in Havana, where the equipment and atmosphere has remained unchanged since the 1950s. This is the very same studio in which the famous Buena Vista Social Club album was recorded in 1996, and the Havana Meets Kingston albums share that unique sonic character and warm, woody room sound that EGREM is famous for. According to Savona “The Cubans told me an angel lives in the studio and that she blesses the music recorded there – and I believe it! Other studios we recorded at include Nelson’s Studio in Vedado, and Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica.”

Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 includes guest appearances from Jamaican singers Clinton Fearon (The Gladiators), Randy Valentine, Prince Alla, Stevie Culture, The Jewels and Micah Shemaiah. Featured Cuban guests include Cimafunk, Barbarito Torres, Changuito, Brenda Navarrete, Solis, Beatriz Marquez, Dayán Carrera Fernández and many more. This second album simmers with energy that comes from the magic created by musicians discovering exciting new sounds and collaborators.

Viva Cuba! Gwaan Jamaica!

Ostróda Reggae Festival, Red Stage, 8-07-2022



Havana Meets Kingston- Carnival feat. Solis & Randy Valentine https://youtu.be/nm6cSk5jgn8
Mista Savona – The Fire from Africa feat. Micah Shemaiah, PuchoMan, The Gideon & Anyilena https://youtu.be/h7KSO6YNtWg
Havana Meets Kingston Mista Savona & Beatriz Márquez – Lágrimas Negras https://youtu.be/Paum_Wd2fZM
Mista Savona presents Havana Meets Kingston – Siempre Si feat. Randy Valentine, Brenda Navarrete & Dayán Carrera Fernández https://youtu.be/HFfxvwnar7U
Havana Meets Kingston- The Human Chain feat. Clinton Fearon https://youtu.be/vVyXcrjHdDE
Havana Meets Kingston – Guarachará feat. Dayán Carrera Fernández https://youtu.be/t2YQ8mSUOZk
Mista Savona & Brenda Navarrete – Havana Meets Kingston (La Canción) https://youtu.be/aJ9Ly9_li3I
Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 (Official Trailer 1) https://youtu.be/RNDo09NuCN4
Havana Meets Kingston – An Introduction (EPK 1) https://youtu.be/x_ohNRGCmzo
Mista Savona & Cimafunk – Beat Con Flow https://youtu.be/TUdRzCa9Cuw
Havana Meets Kingston live BBC Proms https://youtu.be/DvLkVa07suE