La Sonora Matancera, or How to Suffer Happily

How the province of Matanzas got its name, I do not know. Matanza is the Spanish word for "slaughter," so I always had this image in my mind of Matanzas, Cuba as a place that was forged in blood and passion. The music produced by the region's artists seems to mirror that history of pain, slavery, and happiness in the face of suffering.
In "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Chief Wiggum decides to pay Tito Puente a visit in order to determine if he's the culprit. Tito Puente breaks out in song, proclaiming, "words won't last long, but an insulting song Burns will always carry with him. So, I settle my score on the Salsa floor with this vengeful Latin rhythm." Chief Wiggum happily and immediately agree that he's innocent. Though Puerto Rican, there's a reason why Tito Puente was frequently confused for Cuban: his music often has that Cuban duality of happiness in misery.
No other group is more representative of Cuban music than La Sonora Matancera. Though officially started in 1935, the group's history stretches to the early 1920s under other names and incarnations. The number of artists that have at one point or another played for La Sonora Matancera is too great to list. However, that list includes some of the biggest names in Cuban music: Perez "The King of Mambo" Prado, Bienvenido Granda, Daniel Santos, Celia Cruz, and Manuel "Caito" Diaz.
Celia Cruz, in particular, would continue producing hits until her death in 2003. In the near eight decades of the group's existence, the thousands of recording -- many lost -- deal with nearly every subject imaginable. Most songs deal with Afro-Cuban struggle, Santeria, lost love, betrayal, family difficulties, and, somehow, pure happiness. 
The two songs I feel most encapsulate La Sonora Matancera are "Obsesions" and "En El Mar." The former deals with the impossibility of love, the latter with pure joy simply for the sake of living near the sea.
They just don't make simple, moving recordings like this one anymore. The cigarette alone is enough to move you.