Juan Carlos Formell. Photo: Martin Cohen

Note from the Cuban Institute of Music.

On the night of Friday, May 26, 2023, at the age of 59 and as a result of a heart attack, Cuban bassist, guitarist and composer Juan Carlos Formell Alfonso (1964-2023), son of Maestro Juan Formell, founding director of the Los Van Van Orchestra, died in New York City.

Born in Havana in 1964 and based in New York since 1993, Juan Carlos studied music at the Alejandro García Caturla and Amadeo Roldán conservatories in Havana and completed his training at the National School of Art of Cuba. He stood out for his peculiar style as an instrumentalist accompanying several Cuban jazz figures such as Emiliano Salvador, Guillermo Fragoso and Joseíto González, director of the emblematic Orquesta Rumbavana. In 1999 he conceived and recorded his debut album Songs from a Little Blue House, for the American record label Wicklow Records, a production that was nominated for the Granmy Awards. Throughout his career, he recorded five record productions.

Later, he joined Los Van Van, where he served as bassist until the time of his death. During his work with this distinguished orchestra of Cuban popular music, he developed a commendable work, especially in recent years, under the direction of his brother Samuel Formell, and contributed decisively to keep alive the musical legacy of his father.

On behalf of the Cuban Institute of Music, extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

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