Cover of the album My world, by Brenda Navarrete. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.
Cover of the album My world, by Brenda Navarrete. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Brenda Navarrete, drum poet

6 minutos / Lorena Sánchez

19.09.2018 / Reviews

Two hours ago, when everything started, people did not shout. Two hours ago, while they waited for the lights to go out, people just murmured and spoke, perhaps, of the new gas pipeline that must be installed in their house, of the data connection, of the cyclones that are forming (or they formed) in the Atlantic. In those people walked when the room was dark and the stage was illuminated yellow and okónkolo, iyá and itotele -these three drums bimembranófonos, wooden box integral, resembling an hourglass-, were struck, clean hand , by Brenda Navarrete. She, lucumí, olúbatá, mulata, diva, broke with force on those patches, while the song to Elegguá opened the paths of what would be a long journey through that primal disc that is My world.

But he already said it: two hours ago, when everything started, people did not dance, they did not sing, they did not shout. Now, as is often the case, people go crazy. The theater-hall of the National Museum of Fine Arts falls down, and very few connoisseurs notice it. The trip, we can say, has no possible return.

Brenda Navarrete Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Brenda Navarrete Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Maybe the Cuban who does not attend the Wednesday Mass with Interactivo, who does not attend the Fiestas del Tambor, does not get upset when he hears "Alabao" - that great song that appears in the sixth place of Therapy, First record of that current Cuban music phenomenon we know as Cimafunk-, you probably have not heard of Brenda Navarrete. It may even be that this "average" Cuban does not know that, in 2018, Brenda's debut album, My world, he won the Cuerda Viva award in the category of Alternative Music, and that there is in that phonogram a strange symbiosis of sounds that prevents us from being paused; because, here, it is the movement that imposes the rules.

But, what is in the world of Brenda Navarrete? What are their parallel universes, their black holes? What is its chaos, what is its density? The simplest answer would be the following: rumba, latin jazz, timba, son, hindu music, guaguancó, folklore. The most difficult, yes, would be behind the Yoruba song, that Afro-Cuban language and that spirituality that covers many of the themes of the album and that returns us to a Brenda prey to her influences; unable, herself, to detach herself from that which makes her living matter. But make no mistake: we like that. We enjoy it well behind the batá-coqueta, sensual-or in that magnetic voice, instrument in itself, that opens a spectrum of colors and nuances in each song.

A separate place deserve, then, the musicians that accompany it. We put Alain Pérez in the same bag and arrangements; pick up Adonis Panter and Osain del Monte on the way, Roberto Carcassés, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Rolando Luna, Eduardo Sandoval, Pete Locket, among others. With that army of templars, hardly any crusade could go wrong. To top it off, let's emphasize the choral work. This is a multi-voice album, and that shows.

The world of Brenda then begins in "Baba Elegguá" and continues, then, with "Rumbero como yo" - that delicious guaguancó that becomes a tribute to the "poets of the drum", to the rumba, to the Afro-Cuban roots-, with "Anana Oyé ", a beautiful song by Pedro Luis Ferrer that the young percussionist makes his own, with" Caravana "-whose lyrics are by Bobby Carcassés, but inspired by that jazz standard composed by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington that already gathers more than three hundred and fifty versions-, with "Namaste", "Mulata Linda", "Cachita" and "A Oshún". Compositions all where the low sound of the bass and the melodies, at light moments, of the piano -with interludes of flute and trombone- seduce us. Note that not everything is percussion here.

Intentionally, in this journey hurried by the songs of the debut album, two themes that seem indispensable and that are, if you like, at the antipodes of sound have been left out. No matter how many times you've listened to the record, it does not matter how many times you play the tracks five and seven: "Drume Negrita" and "Taita Bilongo" are more than just a tribute to Bola de Nieve and Celia Cruz, respectively. They are, also, strength, good vibes, flow.

Brenda Navarrete Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Brenda Navarrete Photo: courtesy of the artist.

As every September 8 a caravan leaves the Church of the Charity of Cobre in Centro Habana and travels through the streets Galeano, Zanja, Reina, and its surroundings. It is Saturday at six o'clock in the afternoon, and a kind of wagon carries the replica of the Patroness of Cuba that is in the Sanctuary of Copper. The virgin carries on the left arm the child Jesus, and on the right a golden cross. She wears her usual gold suit and a glass urn protects her. Behind, people pray.

Two hours later, when it all began - while the people in the theater-room only murmured and spoke, perhaps, of the new gas pipeline that must be installed in their house, of the data connection, of the cyclones that are forming (or were formed) in the Atlantic - Brenda Navarrete dressed in a suit between pink and yellow, vocalized, and thought, perhaps, in the concert that was ahead. At set list, the Cuban composer and percussionist included, one after another, the themes of her first album My world, licensed by Alma Records. The tenth and final song would be a song to Oshún. The pilgrimage, then, would have ended.

Lorena Sánchez

Lorena Sánchez

Periodista antes. Editora ahora. Como a Tom Waits, le gustan las hermosas melodías que cuentan cosas terribles.

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