The high-energy Italian musical group known as "Dirotta Su Cuba," have successfully combined components of "acid jazz" with "pop-influenced funk" during their career. They trace their origin back to Florence in the late 1980s as keyboardist Rossano Gentili and bassist Stefano De Donato found that they shared an unusual but common affinity for African-American rhythm-and-blues and jazz music. Their songwriting skills would soon find an expressive and interpretive voice in the form of singer Simona Bencini, who contributed powerful and emotional 1960s soul vocalizations.
Their early foray into this seldom-heard musical fusion caught on quickly, and soon they developed a loyal following as they participated in many musical events and competitions throughout the peninsula. Their big break came in the summer of 1994 as their first single, "Gelosia" became a huge hit and went into regular rotation on the airwaves.
Their debut album "Dirotta Su Cuba" (1995), produced by Milanese songwriter/composer Pierpaolo D'Emilio, achieved platinum sales and yielded five singles. They rode the wave of success and returned to the studio to complete their follow-up release "Nonostante Tutto" (1996). This recording featured the musical talents and contributions of numerous musicians including Alex Britti, Demo Morselli, Luca Jurman, Riccardo Onori and included a string orchestra. The singles "Sensibilità," "Ridere" and "Tribu" were upbeat compositions that transferred the group's contagious dynamism to adoring audiences throughout their club circuit tours. Dirotta Su Cuba made their debut at the 1997 Sanremo Music Festival and presented the song, "é andata così" which featured accompaniment by legendary Belgian jazz harmonica specialist Toots Thielemans. This song would make its way onto their first greatest hits compilation, "é andata così" (1997) and also contained a cover of "Jesahel" from 1970s progressive rock band "Delirium." The group welcomed the new millennium with the release of their fourth album, "Dentro ad ogni attimo" (2000). The recording featured the band at its creative pinnacle as they experimented with melodies flavored with international sonorities on songs such as "Bang!," "Notti d'estate," "In riva al mare" and "Piove"; the last of which featured the vocal talents of jazz pianist Mario Rosini. The successful, but long and exhaustive tour which followed the release, came at a price, however, as founding member Stefano De Donato chose to leave the group. Simona and Rossano elected to forge on and released their fifth album, "Fly" (2002). The two singles, "Sono qui" and "Fly" achieved moderate success and were followed by another extensive tour. Upon their return from the road, Simona also decided to abandon the group in order to pursue a solo career. Her lone recording, "Sorgente" (2005) featured collaborations with several other artists including Pacifico, Irene Grandi and Stefano Bollani.
Later in 2008, she gave birth to her first child, daughter Sofia Jasmine. During this time, Rossano himself became a new father to Bianca (2002) and Jacopo (2004) while also establishing his own music label christened "Jazzet." He recruited the talented Nicoletta "Marquica" Marchica to assume the lead vocals on the group's sixth recording "Jaz" (2005). Three singles followed" "L'iguana," "Amore normalissimo" and "Genio della lampada." Although the intensity of the duo was evident on both the recording and subsequent club tours, the original energy and chemistry was lacking due to the absence of Simona and Stefano. Rossano sought to recapture and rekindle that unmistakable synergy that previously existed. Patiently he bided his time and reached out to Stefano in 2008 to seek his input and collaborate on some new ideas he had. By 2009, Simona had been welcomed back into the fold and the group launched a successful "Back To The Roots" tour where they performed their old repertoire to enthusiastic sold-out crowds.
They officially announced the reformation of the band on May 18, 2012. Over the course of the next two years, they released three successful singles "Ragione o sentimento," "Essere o non essere" and "Parole." Through their website and Facebook page, they have announced their upcoming tour schedule but have not yet indicated when they expect to release their next album.
Photo courtesy of www.dirottasucuba.com