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Elio Revé,“The father of Changüí”

Elio Revé Matos was born on December 23rd, 1930 at El Caró de Limones, El Salvador municipality in Guantánamo, a locality where his mother and grandmother were moved in order to take care of a food inn that they settled during the sugar crop, although his father Ezequiel Revé Naranjo registered him at the Civil register in Caimanera as he was born at Los Indios neighborhood on June 23rd, 1930.

His childhood was passed away at Loma del Chivo, well known neighborhood at Guantánamo City. In his early age he had to work in different jobs like shining shoes, selling nougats, durofrios, and serving as a tourist guide to the North Americans that visited the neighborhood.

guantanamo city .org - Elio Revé Matos

Elio Revé forges his musical passion among touches of Tumba, Bembé, Rumba, Changüí, this last one from rural origin endowed with a rhythmical nucleus characterize by the use of the bongo, the xylophone, and the as a “son” varying in the musical tradition of greater incidence in the folklore of the eastern region. The neighborhood presented music around its four sides and absorbed itself like a sponge without consideration genre.

Being an adolescent he started to work as apprentice at a shoemaker’s shop, but his musical inquietudes were imposed, step by step he because one of the best players of rumba at “La Loma del Chivo” neighborhood in Guantánamo. Autodidactic with 17 years old, Elio Revé was already a consecrated percussor, specialize in the paila or kettle – drum (basic instrument of the Charanga Francesa, ironically proceeding from the European tradition and not from the African one).

In 1948 he appeared for the first time in “Típica Armonía Orchestra”, exponent of the changüí as the most important synthesis of the musical identity in the region, specially Guantánamo and it was manifested in the typical ensembles: with Chito Latamblet and Rafael Inciarte. After several trips and stays at Havana City, following the way of many musicians around the island, he definitively decided to move to the capital in 1955, where he started to work in “Silver Star Orchestra”.

In 1955 he created La Revé Orchestra with a format of charanga where started a new artistic career as a kettle – drum player and leader, introducing the “Changüí Son”. That epoch was a great one for that kind of groups, animated by the success of Aragon an America. Elio Revé incorporated to the format of typical orchestra the bongo with five keys, the drums of foundation, the electric guitar, and the tres, enriching the structures of the charanga. He adapted the rhythmical pattern of the Cangüí to the timbales (kettle) instrument in with he was an exceptional player. The fusion of changüí with the species of “son” in fashion marked the distinctive seal of the group and fertilized other very valuable ways in the Cuban dancing – music at the second half of the century.

This modernized changüí was called “Urbano”. This new musical style was well received and finally the Changüí reached national popularity. That is why Elio Revé is called “The father of Changüí”. The former added to his charism and sympathy to that hoarse and unmistakable voice that attended him singing, joined to his professional rigour as a percussion player and his innate and cultivated talent, served him in order to reach the popularity in a very brief time.

Starting from the 80s the formation of Revé took new airs, without leave the style of Changüí, but reinforcing it the rhythmic march that supported the introduction of trombones as conclusive seal voice from Revé style, gave them a semantics load leaded to emphasize the rhythmic – harmonical discourse. His orchestra constituted a workshop of musicians that later they would become masters and orchestra leaders, like Juan Formell that joined him in 1967 and added his own ideas like the use of a bass electric guitar, he left with part of the musicians in 1969 in order to found the Van Van, Chucho Valdes, Juan Carlos Alfonso, Cesar Pedroso, Yumurí and others. The most of the main orchestras in the country can remount its genealogy to La Revé. That is why he is called “The father of Salsa”.

Elio Revé could not continue the constant creative musical development he had accustomed to all his fans. A car accident happened at the national free – way, near Jagüey Grande, in Matanzas, when he went to Villa Clara in order to participate at the carnival parties finished his life on July 24th, 1997. he left hundreds of works registered and recorded at the national and international radio broadcasting, remaining as the King of Changüí.

His firmness propitiated that in 1956 was born one of the most respectable orchestra in the archipelago. His typical charanga with traditional format was receptacle of the best of the Cuban Music.

From father to son

After his dead, Elito Revé Duvergel, his son, musician and composes, graduated superior level in music, who already performed as a pianist and arranger of the Orchestra since he was 20, the assumed the leading of the group being virtuous of conserving his fathers legate and the exclusive sonority of the orchestra, characterized by the sounds of the kettle and the guiro, as well as the assembly of the voices and the montunos.

guantanamo city .org - Elio Revé Junior

Elio Revé jr. has also obtained that the band keep a high level of popularity and has realized successful international tours that include the United Stated, several Latin – American countries, Europe and Asia.

Continuers of a musically important work, able to convene over 25 thousand people at several squares in the country, joined to recordings of important compact discs and exhibitions at distinguished national and international stages, Elio Revé Jr. and Charangon are conforming a new era in the history of this orchestra giving proofs of professionalism and always keeping the expectation of a public connoisseur of the good Cuban music.

To Elio Revé Jr. (who presides the Changüí Festival in Guantánamo) is owed in a good part, the acknowledgment obtained by the orchestra in the new millennium, thanks to the tours realized around Europe and Latin – America.

The Charangón of Elio Revé

(Founded in 1956 by Elio Revé Matos)

In the year 2001, “EL Charangón de Revé” celebrated its anniversary number 45 with a great concert, where participated as guests different musicians that passed in some moment through the group like: Chucho Valdés, Juan Formell, Juan Carlos Alfonso, Cesar “Pupi” Pedroso y Moisés Valle “Yumurí”.

During the concert Elio Revé Jr. and his Charangón performed for the first time the theme “Andan diciendo”.

Between 2002 and this 2004, presentations in festivals like the jazz one in santa Lucía where they shared with Boyz II Man, Forplay, Earth Win and Fire, Herbie Mann an the Michael Brecker Quartet, theaters and aquares in Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain and Germany consolidated its profile.

Jazz and Blue Air Jamaica Festival that was celebrated from January 22 to 25, 2004 in a bill – board where the expectations were surpassed alternating with India Arie, Michael McDonald and Nancy Wilson.

In 2006 with motive of the 50th anniversary of the Orchestra, the House Records Bis Music, of Artex threw an album: Homenaje, where were, complied 16 themes that bring a long musical rum around the Charangón of Revé.

Releases by Orchestra Revé under the direction of Elio Revé

  • 1989 La Explosión del Momento. (Caribe Productions) Compilation.
  • 1993 Papá Eleguá (EGREM)
  • Elio revé y su Charangón (Sonido)
  • Elio Revé y su Charangón Vol. 1 (Caribe Productions) Compilation.
  • Elio Revé y su Charangón Vol. 2 (Caribe Productions) Compilation.
  • Época de Oro (Caribe Productions).
  • Mi salsa tiene Sandunga (Barbaro).
  • Arriba las Manos (Caribe Productions).
  • Rumberos Latino – Americanos (Orfeon) Compilation.

Release by Orchestra Revé under the direction of Elito Revé

  • 2000 Changüí en la casa de Nora (Tumi).
  • 2003 Changüí Homenaje – 45 años (Tumi)
  • 2005 Sigue comentando (Bis Music)


  • 2004 Discover Cuba’s Legendary Orchestra Revé – with special.