Paul Van Ross books Egrem studio in Havana Cuba

August 30.

Today we booked a taxi for Monday, the whole day, in order to pick up all the musicians / instruments and get them to the studio on time. Also to deliver the prepared lunch for 8 people that I am paying for.

Walked to the EGREM studios again (yes – walked, it’s only 5-10min walk from where I’m staying), to finalise deposit and other financial matters. Always good to not be in a hurry in CUBA. This would usually take 5-10 minutes max in Most countries but in Cuba can take Soooooo much longer. (I think we were there over 1 hour)

Luckily I took notes about prices on our last visit to the studio, because it seems there is a fine line between $per hour rates & $per day rates ?? With Patience and perseverance I got the agreed $ per day rates 🙂

Always bring your passport for any official matters!

So, studio 102 @ EGREM is booked for rehearsal Monday & Tuesday. For a rehearsal space it’s huge. The piano is a grand, but is a little honky tonk.

Main recording studio, 101, is booked for Thursday & Friday. It has an enormous main room and three separation booths. Hoping to get 5-6hours recording done on Thursday and then touch-ups on Friday.

Piano tuner booked to spruce up the Steinway in the main room.

Sound engineer booked for all four days. Apparently you still need a sound engineer when you are rehearsing too 😉

My AusPost travel Visa card which I had loaded with Euro dollars to spend in Cuba — DOESN’T WORK HERE!! I’ve tried the ATMs many times, various amounts. And also tried over the counter at Hotel Nacionale. NADA.

Pays (literally) to have a plan B. Now you know why people say Just bring cash to Cuba. Any cash except US dollars (they incur an additional 10% exchange fee – if they’ll exchange them at all).

Still need a pianist for Monday.
Still trying to meet Jose Luis Cortes.


– Cuban people get booked by the police for J walking too!
– I forgot how much the fumes from these old American cars stink.
– Cubans generally love a chat, love hanging out, and love making out, wherever they like.





Paul Van Ross visits EGREM studio in Cuba

August 27.

Today I went to visit the EGREM recording studio of Buena Vista Social Club fame. Accompanied by percussionist Jacinto i was able to discuss recording & rehearsal rates and was able to view the main studio and console as well as a rehearsal room.

It’s hard to describe how majestic this studio is, the main recording room has a real feeling of stepping back 60years in time. It’s easy to imagine the likes of Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald having recorded here.

I had hoped to record some of my original compositions with some Cuban musicians aiming for a more traditional Cuban flavour rather than a jazz flavour.

In the evening myself and Aussie Steve accompanied Jacinto to a religious event where Jacinto had to perform some of his duties as a babalow (priest) in the Santeria religion.

Basically we visited young boys age 6 & 12 who were “initiated”. The were both dressed immaculately in associated clothes for their saint, one in pure white, the other in red & white. We followed the etiquette and also played lots of drums and shared a meal. The two boys were being visited all week by family and friends.
No photos were allowed.

After much discussions with Jacinto about musicians to use we decided to check out a local Latin Jazz gig at Cafe Miremar featuring the rhythm section from Chucho Valdes’ band.