By Amy Fendley | [url=http://www.WhistlerQuestion.com]http://www.WhistlerQuestion.com[/url] | Canada

Direct from Cuba, the “very hot” 14-piece Cuban band Valentin y Los del Caribe will make a stop in Whistler as part of their first Canadian tour.

Valentin y Los del Caribe (meaning Valentin and the Caribbeans), has just completed the Eastern segment of the band’s tour, making stops in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. They’re now headed westward to the Merritt Mountain Music Festival and the Okanagan, and are scheduled for to play in Whistler on Tuesday (July 22).

“If cayenne pepper had a musical counterpart, this electrifying 14-member Cuban band would be it,” said Rita Albano of One World Arts Productions, the band’s manager and tour operator.

Valentin y Los del Caribe is approaching its 10th anniversary as a band. Led by Rene Valentin Campos Santiesteban, the band is directed by both Valentin and his son, Rene Amet Campos Artigas. Characteristic of the members’ Cuban heritage, the ensemble incorporates the salsa, meringue, bolero, son, cha cha, timba and other high-energy rhythms into its repert oire of more than 100 original compositions, combining four vocalists, a thunderous percussion section of timbales, congas and bongos, an intense brass section of two trumpets and two trombones, a piano and keyboards.

Albano, translating a conversation with the Spanish-speaking Artigas over the phone, said that so far the band’s Canadian tour is going well, and that the band feels privileged to be able to play in Whistler.

“They’re really enjoying the reception from the people. They’ve responded well to the music,” Albano said. “They’re happy to be here, and it seems like there are a lot of people in Canada who enjoy Cuban music. They are looking forward to performing in Whistler. It’s a privilege.

“The band dances like crazy, and visually they are very exciting in their colourful costumes. It’s very hard to sit still when you are watching them. Rene says that when they work, it’s a show.”

The members’ commitment to Cuban music remains such a passion that they routinely perform voluntari ly for the Provincial Music Centre of Camaguey, to which they belong as members. Valentin y Los del Caribe has also performed encore appearances in the Mexican resorts of Santa Lucia, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, and Acapulco.

The 14-piece salsa orchestra is one of Cuba’s top three orchestras currently performing the Varadero tourist circuit. Since the band’s creation in Camaguey in 1994, Valentin y Los del Caribe has been awarded the Musical Excellency award from the Cuban Institute of Music. In June 2002 the band received the Total Guarantee of Professionalism award, presented to them by the Cuban National Commission, and in April 2001 the Artistic Council of the Music Centre of Camaguey granted the band the First Class Standing award.

This year, The Valentin y Los del Caribe has just released its second CD, Para Bailar Mi Tumbao, recorded on the Egrem label. This is the band’s inaugural Canadian tour.

One World Arts Productions presents Valentin y Los del Caribe at MY Place, July 22. Door s open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $30 for adult, $20 for students and seniors, and $2 for Sea to Sky youth ages 8-18 who purchase advance tickets themselves.