Cover: Like the Fishes (1994)
Cover: Like the Fishes (1994)

Ten (and so many) trova discs that you should listen to

6 minutos / Antonio López Sánchez

15.08.2018 / Articles

The pages of AMPM invite to an interesting exercise. What Cuban trova albums should listen to who is just looking for the first time at these sound taste? It seems like a titanic task.
Let's consider that there is trova in Cuba from La bayamesa, by Céspedes, Castillo and Fornaris, sung in 1851 under the Luz Vázquez window. The traditional trova, the filin and all the ages and generations of the Nueva Trova, exhibit not few imperishable subjects and plural authors of value. In fact, it seems easier to talk about essential composers, and after their recordings, than just close the fence to the notorious albums. Even so, and without this being at all a definitive or the only possible selection, let us turn an acetate with scratch, or press the touch of the mobile. And let's listen.

Bitter truths, black tears and good songs
Anyone who has lived the seventies and, above all, the eighties, will remember how lavish our vinyl record stores were. This included, of course, not a few of the traditional trova. However, that treasure has not yet been digitized at all. Therefore, any gem is worth its weight in sound.
For example, you have to hear La música de Pepe Sánchez (2000) where the Cuarteto Patria and the Hermanas Martí, among others, defend themes of this trova initiator. Another little gem is the album La perla marina (1993), with classics by Sindo Garay, defended by Guarionex Garay, Adriano Rodríguez, Dominica Verges or Barbarito Diez, among other giants. Likewise, the recordings of María Teresa Vera with Lorenzo Hierrezuelo and those of the Trío Matamoros or Los Compadres, are priceless.
However, there are several anthologies, closer, where the traditional trova is well represented. Of them, add the Años I and II (1983 and 1986) of Pablo Milanés, with the presence of Luis Peña, Octavio Sánchez (Cotán), Lorenzo Hierrezuelo himself and a Compay Segundo already great but not yet famous. Rescue in addition Colibrí (2001), an exquisite gift of Vicente Feliú and Cantar la trova (2005), by Miriam Ramos with Pancho Amat. There, it is possible to get an idea, minimal but solid, of the value of the traditional trovera work.

Cover: Pablo Milanés Años (I) (1983)

Cover: Pablo Milanés Años (I) (1983)

That feeling called love
With the filin, something similar happens. Decades ago it was possible to find with great ease the albums of José Antonio Méndez, César Portillo de la Luz, Ñico Rojas, Ángel Díaz and Marta Valdés, among others. Now those records, in digital properties, do not appear easily. There are, we have verified, but they haunt in the random exchange of mp3 (without credits) or in the most hazardous, and expensive, albur of the stores. If you trip them, do not let them go, especially if the singer's name is Elena Burke. Again, Pablo Milanés contributes his series Filin (I to the VI, between 1982 and 2008), which is magnificent. A live performance by Sara González, Without going further (2001), pays homage to Marta Valdés.

It was in the 80's, in case you forget ...
It was, even, a little more for there and even here, because the seventies and the eighties are the prodigal years of the Nueva Trova. The founders recorded several albums each and also appeared the first ones of Santiago Feliú, Donato Poveda, Alberto Tosca, Xiomara Laugart and Anabell López. Already in the nineties, Carlos Varela, Gerardo Alfonso and Frank Delgado, among others, recorded.
In a parenthesis, back in the seventies, rescue musicalizations to texts of José Martí recorded by Casa de las Américas under the signatures of Pablo Milanés, Amaury Pérez, Noel Nicola and Sara González. Add also the Ismaelillo, which Teresita Fernández musicalized. They are pure gold.
So let's save, from Silvio Rodríguez, Al final de este viaje (1978) and the two with Afrocuba, Cauzas y azares (1986) and Oh, melancolía (1988), as well as the Querido Pablo (1984), by Pablo Milanés with a host of guests. Vida (1984), by Santiago Feliú and, at the close of a circle, the Ay, la vida (2010), are the best in the very good work of the wonderful southpaw. Carlos Varela seals the decade with Jalisco Park (1989) and then reaches a very high level in Como los peces (1994).

Cover: Santiago Feliú. Ay, la vida (2010)

Cover: Santiago Feliú. Ay, la vida (2010)

Anyway, there are excellent songs in the albums troveros of the time, individual and groups. If the recordings of those years of Manguaré, Mayohuacán, Mezcla, Moncada and Síntesis are digitized, it is advisable to capture them. The same happens with the many collective albums, for specific dates or as a memory of festivals and contests. There are very good sound veins there.

Special decade, blur, and new century
Already in the nineties, Frank Delgado scores Trova-Tur (1995), luxury album. Of Gerardo Alfonso, although he records several works in those years, he excels, the direct Recuento (2000), for being an excellent anthology of his work. Other Recuento (2002), live as well, but Polito Ibáñez´s is also magnificent. And another anthology, Soy y no soy el mismo (1998), Noel Nicola, brings together the best of the troubadour. Do not forget here the Entre otros (2002) Noel and Santiago, a plaque in capital letters. Another inevitable is Pedro Luis Ferrer, with Cien por ciento cubano (1994).
In the department of compilations, albums Grupo de Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC (1997) and the Antología de la Nueva Trova (1998), each in four volumes, are very important records. Although in the second there were missing and many names, it is a good example of authors and themes.
Of the work of Habana Abierta, says its musical producer, Pavel Urquiza, that the best is 24 horas. And from Pavel himself, with Gema Corredera, write down Trampas del tiempo (1995). Worth mentioning two other anthologies. One, from the Moncada group, 3D'cadas (2002), which collects in three volumes the best of this band. Another is Sara siempre (2015), a very large sample of the troubadour's work.

Cover: Noel Nicola and Santiago Feliú. Entre otros (2002)

Cover: Noel Nicola and Santiago Feliú. Entre otros (2002)

We have many creators, yesterday and today. Trovadores nearer, already renowned and with solid work, have excellent records, which are worth knowing. But the space is over. From these artists, we can still expect the best and highest of their careers and, perhaps, we will return to talk about their works, in these pages.
On the usual trova, then, there will be as many lists as you listen to. The disagreement with this attempt at selection, plus the works and names that perhaps we overlook, are unfailing proof of how much and good our song. Luckily, there is a lot of trova to cut.

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Antonio López Sánchez

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    Adriana M Collado

    15.08.2018

    Very good. I believe in this selection are Mike Purcel and Amaury Pérez.

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    Patricia Jimenez

    21.01.2020

    Si tuviera que escoger uno solo, no entendido el Arte como eso que agrada (bien por los productos musicales) sino que Crea, con el rigor de ser irrepetible (textos, música, arreglos, ejecución, interpretación, consecuencia y ninguna pretensión): Pedro Luis Ferrer.


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