The favorite Cuban albums of my friends (so far this century)

17 minutos / Marcel Lueiro

15.10.2018 / Articles

Any day, in one of those storms of ideas that any editor of the magazine invokes -and that for our misfortune are diluted most of the times before touching the ground-, I thought at random of a group of friends. It occurred to me to ask them to choose their favorite Cuban album so far in the 21st century, and to tell the emotional reasons of their choice. After almost two months, I decided to close the process.  Only eight of them had responded to my call. It will be something, I told myself. That number. Perhaps already people "do not think" of discs, nor is there time to dedicate themselves to it. The eldest of the group, Alicia, gave me this pearl: "If I had to choose, it would be one of the Sound Experimentation Group." And me that "no, Alicia, we are talking about the 21st century ...". The youngest, Lucia, who just turned 15, grimaced before reacting: "Uh, I do not listen to records, but songs." After the recount, I can say that I love the testimonies that did arrive, to which I added mine as a way to accompany them a little in their detachment and shyness. Of course I would have liked them to be more, to embrace other musical genres, that other socixs would take out the demons outside, in short, that there would be more surprises. But hey, it's the amigxs. And they are not asked for anything else.

 Haiku, by Yusa (Tumi Music, 2008)

Haiku it's a perfect record for me: it does not spare him or lack a second, a feeling, a chord, a color, a letter ... What is not surprising, if it's a Yusa record, produced nothing more and nothing less than the Brazilian Alê Siqueira. So it is not their musical and poetic perfection that moves me to choose it, since in the Cuban discography of recent years there are other perfect albums.

How many things can an album be? Many: hand, shoulder, partner, pillow, water, bread, life, party, orgasm ... Haiku It is a stay of 37 minutes and 31 seconds in a warm, quiet and safe place, where you feel a tremendous peace: as a baby in Mom's belly. It is a collection of minimalist, beautiful and sincere postcards of conflicts, reflections and intimate feelings. That's why it's an album that you have to listen to with the five senses. Or more. I can say that it is also an exercise in introspection. And for this reason it is also a guide mirror for making our own therapy.

How many things can be Haiku? All these and more. Because Yusa made this zen record to remind us that things are not always going to be fine. And even so, Haiku It is a happy world.

Iván Egüed (automatic engineer)

 

Making history, by Alexander Abreu and Habana de Primera (Egrem, 2008)

Next year marks a decade that came out Making history, the first album by Alexander Abreu and Habana de Primera. Since I heard it for the first time I knew that the title was not a vain boast of the trumpeter turned into a singer and musical director. The only way to know that a record you love (especially in the faeric sense of the word) is through the powerful vibration of the heart, as with all the great things of this life. Then the reason also tries to explain to you that it is a moving album especially from its musical arrangements. Executed in a masterly manner and with a peculiar originality in each of its themes, it removed the cuban timbero building, a bit stagnant in the first decade of the 21st century, and also harassed by the catchy reggaeton hits. Sung and played with a passion that oozes Cubanness from all four sides, Alexander sent a strong and clear message: the musical battle (cultural), is given with quality and without plantain. When on a cold night in Buenos Aires, I heard on a bus that the two Argentine boys who were sitting behind me were singing excitedly about "my music, which is native to the mountain, from where the deer takes the trillo and you hear the song of the mockingbird, "I thought we were in the fight.

 Daniel Silva (mathematical)

 Trovadamente, by Jorge García (Colibrí, 2010)

"There are people to whom one gives everything, trovadamente", says accomplice to the camera Jorge García in the making of by Trovadamente, your posthumous CD / DVD. Trovadamente It is his last recording, finished just before death stalked him prematurely, at 50. This is the synthesis of a life, the ethical, political, amatory and musical testament of a lucky troubadour. Armed with musicians from the Ancient Music Group Ars Longa, Jorge ventures to instrument for violas da gamba, zanfoñas, old violins, minor percussion ..., never leaving his guitar, to achieve modern, rare sounds. Some of this I had already experienced in There is everything in the vineyard of the Lord (Abdala, 2002), planned even a little before Sting added Karamasov for similar purposes, in case we forgot how pioneers we can be on this island. Jorge plays with the minstrel's symbol, and refreshes it, updates it, contextualizes it in Havana in 2009. He leaves the record in two separate concerts: one for the CD and one for the DVD, directed by the Cuban filmmaker Pavel Giroud . Here his obsession with freedom returns. Here Old Havana, around the Church of Paula and the port, also becomes music, its sounds are integrated into the recording, thanks to the wisdom-especially to the brotherhood-of Maykel and Maykleito Bárzagas. Here Jorge gives himself everything and "trovadamente", just before the fucking death places him between memory and oblivion.

Marta María Ramírez (communicator)

Chaping, by Van Van (Unicorn, 2004)

After all, "planting a tree, having a child and writing a book" are not enough. Marti missed something that defined him: it is necessary to live in another country (or in another province, in another town, the important thing is to change and move from where your roots are). I understand their oblivion, because exile or emigration hurts (and a lot), but they also make you grow exponentially. And if you're lucky, find a great love.

But to go through this ambivalent process, in addition to a good job, nothing better than having a good emotional mattress. Mine is to have grown up surrounded by family and my experiences of an earlier stage. Chaping is the record that transports me to that time in which my whole family lived in the same country, we knew the good thing about becoming adults, I was born a nephew (still) adorable, I had a grandmother, my parents were younger and I started to live fully my life.

These days my family has the sadness of another wave. Today we are much less in Cuba. We are like the many pieces of glass in which a Russian glass is broken against the ground. But, as a granddaughter of emigrants, I just want to think that, if the migration of my Spanish grandparents gave so many good things, it will be helpful then that we become more cosmopolitan. If they "go", they will return. Everything returns. Take off

Silvia Padrón (psychologist)

Slow medium, by Ariel Barreiros (Egrem, 2008)

When I was 16 years old I fell in love for the first time, I discovered the wonder of Fito Páez, I decided to study film and I confirmed myself as a believer in utopias. So, I did not buy discs. A day of school in the middle of the field I turned on the television and there it was: a rare and blue man who sang Girl. What a great way to be beautiful that man !, I told myself. "How many doves give seven for three pigeons?" He said. It was a video clip where a troubadour gave himself to his melody and to life.

My best friend, a wise and strong young man, with whom I shared a certain faith, knew about that moment of charm, and on a trip to Camajuaní he bought me as a gift Slow Medium, "Because you, crazy without remedy, you are dead with the Barreiros that".

I, who was very alive, gave him a hug of affection and euphoria, before going to devour the songs I did not know. I entered a delicate universe, with subtle avalanches and simplicity of child's eyes. It was the most beautiful unexpected gift that I have ever had.

A decade later I treasure almost everything that, even through the water of dialectics and life, marks my entire existence: I am still amazed by the cinema, music, certainties, love ... I still do not buy records.

I will always keep with pleasure the Medium slow, full of sensitivity and answers, along with books and papers, even if I lost my friend when we stopped sharing that faith, and I listened to the songs on an iPhone while walking any city, the country I will never leave or any other.

Lilmara Cruz (film editor)

Plus, by Frank Delgado (Bis Music, 2016)

I have a friend who is registered in the birth certificate with the name of Francisco Gilberto Delgado Más, but who everyone knows (and I say almost literally) by Frank Delgado. He is the author of the disc Plus, produced between 2012 and 2015, and for me, the most important in Cuban music so far in the 21st century.

I have attended the painful pleasure of conceiving it, giving birth to each song, the arrangements, the normal and abnormal vicissitudes of a feat of this nature, in a totally self-managed way, without institutional or private support. Basically their own resources and friendship and the respect they receive in abundance were sufficient. I also had the immense privilege of appreciating Frank's perennial modesty, as he submitted every note and word to the judgment of his friends and I saw him accept criticism and even make changes or modifications to the songs based on the criteria of totally neophyte people in musical terms, but that in his opinion were rational.

Among the admirable aspects of this particular album stands out the capacity of mimesis of Frank without ceasing to be himself. Being the author of all the themes, even, already old issues and with multiple versions, Frank is able to "thin out" and make their songs sound, seem and are appropriate for those who decided to share their adventure. Pablo Milanes, Israel Rojas and Buena Fe, Ray Fernandez, Kelvis Ochoa, Pancho Cespedes, David Torrens, Issac Delgado and Los Van sing Frank's songs, but even in the smallest detail it seems they and not Frank, the authors.

In a monosyllable synthesizes a universe of meanings, all real and applied in this work. Plus It is a tribute to Migdalia, for that second and very important surname she gave him. Plus It is the symbol of the updating of his work. It also refers to the amount of musical genres present throughout the phonogram. Plus is real inclusion in times of figure and delusions of prominence. It means Frank, plus a plethora of artists who accompany him and make essence in this delicious album. Plus it implies the rise of the rod in terms of quality, proposals and challenges of intellectual creation, in this case, art. Plus It is also more truth, more honesty and ethics of the creator.

Humberto Miranda (philosopher)

In guarandinga throughout Cuba, Rita del Prado and the Karma Duo (Guarandinga Productions / BisMusic, 2009)

I have a hard time choosing an album. The same thing happens with the colors, the musical genres, the meals, the places ... That of preferring only one gives me better in love. I decide to brainstorm and so I stay with the first two that came to mind. One I could not hear more, after so much "burn", the loss left me blocked and, what's more, what I'm going to say about a guy so big named Santiago. Then I choose the other and the joy that invades me is a beautiful confirmation. In guarandinga throughout Cuba It is a work of art. It is a beautiful, creative album, respectful of girls and boys, and full of Cubanness.

Rita del Prado and the Karma duo make big and small get into the guarandinga and make a trip of those that one wants to repeat so much enjoyment. You sing and dance with melodies and rhythms that for some are not things of these times, despite being so ours. At times it seems that you are reading a story or attending a play (in addition), you go through the geography of this beautiful island and you get lessons in the history of Cuba in the most fun and beautiful way that anyone can think of. Maybe that's why I was not surprised to find an Argentine family once in Old Havana wanting to "discover" the places they visited In guarandinga... They were interested in knowing the meaning of words used by Taínos and Africans who once inhabited this piece of land and who today inhabit us (by the way, I love the appearance of Roly Berrío in The ñañara).

I do not know if I enjoyed it more than my older son (probably yes); but I know I have to thank him for having discovered it. Looking for little gems that would cultivate their love for music, this endearing album appeared. Then, he led me to invent a game that next to the song Polyimite and goat It would be useful for my child to learn the days of the week. Then I decided to take the CD to all the elementary schools with which I worked until very recently, where some of their subjects opened and closed workshops we did with teachers and students ... This is what happens when you travel so well accompanied, what you live it is engraved in your heart and there is no way to not share it.

Yuliet Cruz (psychologist)

Ay, la vida, by Santiago Feliú (Colibrí, 2011)

"Santi left us." It was the message on my cell phone that morning, on a class shift. The day: embarrassment of friends, a trip to Alamar, and a P11 back, too late to get to the tribute. Havana smelled strange that day.

The international Ay, la vida of Santiago Feliú was the soundtrack of my first years of the university. A sunset on the coast and a great love for my age. Friends and the worst mojito in history. A road trip throughout Cuba. Watch for the first time: shoot. Something like the soundtrack of my sentimental education.

I always return to this album to remember who I am. Hard, old, honest, sad and peaceful songs that come back: wise songs. I hear Santiago today less because the speakers or the headphones seem tiny and I want to see him come out of the vibration and listen to him alive. I'm scared I can not do it and I turn off the music in the second song. But if I put the Ay, la vida I feel that I dream.

For those years I made a photo that I keep. The Cuba Pavilion, framing contrapicado, vertical, the lectern in the foreground and a setlist where you read Cravings of the Dawn and Ay, la vida. In the background, out of focus, Santiago leaves the box on the left.

When I turned 15, my sister gave me my first concert taken seriously (previously they were Pablo's concerts that my mother took me to and one of Cigala that I regret not having understood). Santiago Feliú played in the Sala Covarrubias of the National Theater. I remember seeing him play and think: this lefty will spend his hands if he keeps playing like this.

 Carla Valdés (filmmaker)

 

Be happy, by Fernando Álvarez and Descemer Bueno (Egrem, 2009)

Sé feliz he turned me upside down. At the beginning of the century I just left the "sub-machine gun", having spent much of the nineties swallowing grunge, death metal, trash, punk, national rock, international rock. Anything that would make me move the bicycle and live my own hippie and libertarian universe, in the middle of the crisis. I finished my college years and began to connect seriously with Cuban music through jazz, the alternative filma Gema and Pavel, the troubadours of 13 and 8. Wonderful things came out at the time, and one day I stumbled upon a model that later publish the Egrem. It was called Be happy, 12 boleros by Descemer played by an old Fernando Álvarez, whose voice, although some do not know -as I did not know- is part of the romantic DNA of all Cubans. I clarify that my only previous experience with boleros had been the album of Luis Miguel's versions, which helped me to fall in love and suffer in equal measure during high school. But that was a kind of epiphany: "If loneliness sickens your soul, if winter comes to your window ...". I swear I felt that the old Fernando Álvarez spoke directly to me. Lyrics and music fit in my long walks alone on the boardwalk and the surrounding areas. Love and lack of love, there was everything. In addition, the album did not sound exactly like the classic boleros sung by the "Luismi", they had another package: precious arrangements for different formats, bolero blues, bolero big band, bolero son, bolero that is recontextualized again and again throughout the album, lyrics as poetic as accessible. In short, beautiful boleros that killed me on the road. With that hobby that I have of "philosophizing" music, I assumed that the mission of Descemer, Fernando and the rest of the musicians (among them, Roberto Carcassés, Yosvany Terry and Elmer Ferrer) was to put into orbit the bolero of the 21st century, expand Cuban music to another level. Since then, time has passed. Other discs arrived, but Be happy He still takes care of me. I am convinced that even in the midst of happiness it is good to have an antidote of this caliber: "I only want to remove your fears, until they break in me, like a feverish wave of the sea".

 Marcel Lueiro (editor)

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Marcel Lueiro

Editor and poet. Responsible father Ability to gather sensitivities. He often dreams that he is a shaman who makes snakes sing.

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