Not to be confused with Juan Carlos Alfonso, also a Cuban bandleader and composer as well as instrumentalist, just plain Carlos Alfonso is best known for his work with the group Síntesis. The musical synthesis hinted at in the name of this combo, initially started in the '60s and joined by Alfonso after 1978, is the classic Cuban mixture of native and African elements. The blend haunts Alfonso in a variety of his projects: he is also active in the tradition of Afro-Cuban songwriting or "akpwon" with performer Lazaro Ross.
Alfonso performs as both a skilled bassist and singer. He and fellow Síntesis vocalist Ele Valdés have become the Flo & Eddie of Cuba, in demand as background singers on hits such as Adalberto Alvarez's "Dale Como Es." In 1987 Síntesis released Ancestros, considered the group's most innovative album. Alfonso's own background as a student certainly includes mentors in the fine art of progressive aesthetics though -- including Leo Brouwer, the composer of much fine music for avant-garde guitar. Alfonso also led the group Tema IV prior to becoming part of Síntesis.