Juan Formell`s first music professor was his own father and then Odifio Urfé and Orestes López. Since he was 13 years old he performed pop music in a youth septet. In 1960, he began his career as soloist in the Rubalcaba, Peruchín and Carlos Faxas orchestras. The Cuban son was not far from the music he used to compose, but the twist, the go-go and the shake rhythms which came to Cuba from the Anglo-Saxon America influenced the young composer. Later on, he joined the Revé Orchestra, as bass player, composer and orchestrator, with whom he popularized the "Changüi 68" theme. In 1969, he founded his own group, Los Van Van orchestra.
With Los Van Van orchestra, Juan Formell launched an avant-garde line thus creating the Songo as a musical form which stemmed out from the fusion of different influences such as the jazz and the rock based on the Cuban son rhythm. This new rhythm is characterized by a constant percussion polyrhythm, a bass improvising with the piano harmony, the electronic timbre of strings and the use of non-schematic vocal arrangements. Since its inception, this rhythm has characterized the music played by Juan Formell and his orchestra.
Juan Formell, during his professional career, has performed in both the movie and the theater by composing music for musical comedies and films. He masters the creation of humorist and popular themes. Likewise, his music has been present in the discography of well-known international musicians and interpreters as Rubén Blades, Harry Belafonte, Rey Barreto, the Gran Combo from Puerto Rico, Roberto Roena, Vicentico Valdés, Latin Fever and others.
Curiously enough, Los Van Van have never used the word salsa when defining their music, since they have always performed avant-garde Caribbean music, even well before it was defined as salsa by the Anglo-American industry.
After more than 30 years of artistic life, countless awards, including the Grammy for their CD "Van Van is Here", this orchestra is still the most popular orchestra in Cuba.
Website : www.vanvandeformell.com
Wikipedia : Los Van Van