During the spring of 1997 and along with the release in Europe of the three albums, de Marcos and a select group of stellar musicians started touring all over the continent under the banner of a band christened the “Afro-Cuban All Stars.” The original line up, familiar from the records, included Ruben González and Guillermo Rubalcava (piano), Orlando López (bass), Amadito Valdés (timbale), Carlos González and Roberto Valdés (bongos & cuban percussion), Ángel Terry (congas), Daniel Ramos, Alejandro Pichardo y “Guajiro” Mirabal (trumpets), Alberto “Molote” Martínez and Jesús “Aguaje” Ramos (trombones) and, Raúl Planas, Manuel Licea, Pío Leiva, Ibrahim Ferrer and Félix Baloy (lead singers).
After several years of tremendous and unexpected success – including four Grammy nominations, being the subject of several documentaries and films, and being recipients of many other distinctions – the All Stars are certainly the best-known and successful Cuban orchestra after Los Van Van and Irakere.
The Afro-Cuban All Stars has also opened the doors to a new generation by incorporating young musicians into the band. With The Afro-Cuban All Stars, de Marcos has developed a concept: to stand up on the roots for creating the future.
In 2002, de Marcos founded his own independent label, DM Ahora! Records, with which he released the Afro-Cuban All Stars’ albums Live in Japan and Step Forward (which was Grammy nominated in 2006). He also released A Diario (Telmary) and Goza Pepillo (Interactivo), projects that represent a new generation of Cuban music, one that fuses hip-hop with contemporary Cuban genres.
More recently de Marcos, along with his wife Gliceria Abreu, has founded, GG and LL, a musical production company based in Mexico City that aims to create a space for the new Latin American Music, especially that interpreted by songwriters. Moreso than simply creating a band, his approach has allowed him to expand its creative range by incorporating contemporary styles of Cuban music; as well, as a fluid approach to adjusting the orchestra’s line-up by changing or adding musicians as appropriate has made it easier to best reflect the different styles of music from the various periods that the band features.
The Afro-Cubans are the same orchestra that can be seen in those distinct performances captured in the famous Oscar-nominated Buena Vista Social Club documentary by Wim Wenders, its sequel Buenavista Social Club, Adios, by Lucy Walker, the Tony Knox documentary Salon of Dreams, or the DVDs Live in Japan, Live in The Hague and Live in Maryland.