Portada del disco Cantor de pueblo. Foto: Páfata Productions.

Alexander Abreu and Havana D'Primera ... singing to the people

by
AM

In Havana it is said asere, in Havana it is said what a bolá .... is a phrase that for some time has been humming along the streets of the Cuban capital. And that is when you combine the words of popular slang with the flavor and cadence of the Cuban tumbao; When the inflections of the Spanish acriollado are superimposed with the rhythmic richness of the leathers, a simple oral expression becomes the undisputed seal of Cuban identity, an identity feature of an entire people.

So it happens with Cantor of the Town, fourth phonogram of the popular Havana D 'Primera orchestra, an album that puts the name of popular dance music in our country well high. Carriers of a more than respectable musical trajectory, Alexander Abreu and Havana D 'Primera manage to consolidate with this phonogram awarded the Cubadisco 2018 Prize in the Popular Dance Music / Popular Voices category, a sound style that draws the future path of the popular Cuban dance creation.

With three excellent pre-materials -Making history (2008, EGREM), Passport (2012, Unicorn) and Around the world (2015, Páfata Productions) -, this orchestra of all stars has been winning goals. Disc after disc, they have traveled the path towards maturity and the consolidation of a sound product with a well-defined artistic proposal.

Nominated to the Latin Grammy in the category of Sauce, Cantor of the Town is a disc that masterfully combines good compositions, excellent arrangements and great interpretations, where balance and care for details are added values ​​to the phonogram. From the compensated orchestrations to the appreciable sound balance in the mix of each one of the themes, this album is a sample of the excellent musical production made by Alexander Abreu. With texts that deal with love stories, religious themes and others, through a language full of expressions of the Cuban "on foot", this CD is nothing more than a reflection of the everyday, a photograph of Cuban society.

Thanks to the meticulous work of coupling, each of the songs manages to find its place within the internal dramaturgy of the album, allowing the expressive potentialities of each song to be exploited to the maximum. With # D 'First, the CD welcomes us in what will be a pleasant journey through the current sounds of Cuban popular music. Responding to more international sound codes and with a text, in my opinion, much lighter in content, this song is a noble introduction to the other nine singles that make up the album, all songs by Abreu, with the exception of The woman complimented, composed by maestro Giraldo Piloto.

On the other hand, Three days, The second theme of the album summarizes in a coherent and attractive way everything that will be said during the course of the album. With an arrangement by Alexander Abreu, impregnated with sensitivity and good taste, this theme is the "masterpiece" of this record production. It is a story of love narrated from the purest emotion. The theme takes us towards a montuno that ends in choirs full of Cubanness, giving the listener a universe of colors and sonorities that contrast with each other.

Another of the great tracks that adorns the phonogram is Springs. With an introduction of flugelhorn, it begins wrapped in an atmosphere of soft sonorities, achieved from harmonic mattresses made by the perfectly matched metal rope, and then break into a montuno possessor of extreme cadence. Also, the riff executed by the electric guitar is the inflection point that makes the difference in this theme, bringing freshness and closeness to the most global sound codes.  

As in the previous albums, this time the metal arrangements are one of the hallmarks of the group. On topics such as Peppermint the polyphonic work that is evident in the metal wind chord, is proof of the technical skills and virtuosity of its musicians and arrangers. The contrapunteo to the Cuban that is established between the trombones and the trumpets, added to the passages loaded with fast values ​​and joint movements, achieved from the most absolute cleanliness and precision, send us all the time to glorious orchestras of Cuban music as Irakere .

Now, if stylistic features and sound identity are involved, the vocal performance of Alexander Abreu is worthy of study. With a dark, round voice, not at all brilliant, almost opposite to the timbre that the singers par excellence of this type of music tend to have, Alexander has developed a very personal interpretative style. From the total and absolute consciousness, or perhaps, from the most genuine innocence, the use of the voice as an instrument allows its interpretations to rest on melodic resources, ornaments and turns typical of those of the metal winds (trumpet), tools that with the passage of time and the office reached as an interpreter, they have become characteristic features of their interpretation.

In turn, the melodic design at the time of conceiving the guides or improvising on the cadenciosos montunos refers, to those with a sharper ear, to the improvisations of the trumpet in a good Cuban son, becoming a hallmark of its form to say.  

Cuban one hundred percent, from the texts and topics addressed to the arrangements of each topic, Cantor of the village it is more than a phonogram with a high artistic value. It is the need of a creator to express the feeling of an entire people through his art, a tour of Cuban popular music and a tribute to the great masters.

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