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Articles Photo: Courtesy Vistar Magazine. Photo: Courtesy Vistar Magazine.

Synthesis, nuclear physics and a psychoanalysis session for X Alfonso

Art and science would be, according to Marxism, two forms of social consciousness. The truth is that they have more interactions than most imagine. My brain has a special taste for discovering its concurrences and, speaking of the disc Ancestors Symphonic (FacMusic, 2022), two theses have been going around for days. 

Thesis # 1: The Alfonso Valdés family, that band that will transcend as one of the most brilliant matrixes of Cuban music, is not only a musical phenomenon, but also a physical one. 

Thesis # 2: X Alfonso has a drive, an inventive force that, according to the laws of psychoanalysis, could be dangerously devastating if it were not directed, luckily, towards imagination and beauty. 

Conjectures at last, I try to demonstrate them with reasoning. 

As I have read, “nuclear fusion is the process by which several atomic nuclei of similar charge come together and form a heavier nucleus. It is a process that releases an enormous amount of energy.”  

Tell me if this description of something apparently as far removed from art as a physical process is not accurate for what happened when Carlos Alfonso and Ele Valdés met in 1971. Even, being obviously two "atoms" (Carlos and Ele) with a "positive" charge, at first Ele repelled it, until finally, they fit, we can say that they merged. What was unthinkable then was that this random link, this “butterfly flapping” type link, this fortuitous alliance, would bring so much joy to Cuban music and its audiences. 

Of what they were doing and projecting first separately and then together, of their interactions with names that are very relevant today in the history of Cuban music, such as Luis Carbonell or Pedro Luis Ferrer, they themselves have told a lot in interviews, such as the ones they gave for the program with two who love each other. You can also read a lot about the first stage of this union, musically speaking, in the entry that Rosa Marquetti dedicated to the Tema 4 quartet on her blog forgetful. I urge you to revisit these valuable materials, which allows me to take a leap of 15 years, mentioning in passing that this axis of two medullary beings gave rise to the Síntesis group in 1976, but at times amalgamating the central nucleus —vigorous in itself -, others items powerful physicists (Amaury Pérez, Gonzalito Rubalcaba, José María Vitier, Ernán López Nussa, just to mention a few). 

Back cover of Symphonic Ancestors. Design: X Alfonso.

Back cover of Symphonic Ancestors. Design: X Alfonso.

Although Irakere, founded in the previous decade, had managed to get the entire country to listen and dance, updating the Afro-Cuban with rumba and jazz tools from the very spirituality of some of its members, Síntesis made the trip to the origins. In the backpack, in addition to the trova, they took pop and symphonic rock, to mix them masterfully with the songs, rhythms and ritual melodies that they apprehended through a respectful and increasingly rigorous approach.

When Carlos and Ele, after having recorded with an almost heretical fear Asoyín and mereguo for their previous album, they decided to delve seriously into the ritual spaces of Yoruba culture and Afro-Cuban religion to give birth in 1987 to the first AncestrosEquis Alfonso was 15 years old. Having lived the experience of mothering in Cuba, it is hard to imagine what reserves of creative energy each one of them and both together had, which allowed them to raise an adolescent —a textbook problem in this case— and a still-baby Eme Alfonso, while her musical curiosity and his passion for entrepreneurship were about to cause a new explosion in Cuban music. Those liturgical songs of our African ancestors brought to contemporary times, with the intentional use of very innovative musical tools at that time, gave rise to music of dazzling power. 

Of course other transcendent entities functioned as activators of process: the akpwon Lázaro Ross, the multi-instrumentalist and arranger Lucía Huergo, the producer Ana Lourdes Martínez or the sound engineer Jerzy Belc Jurek, The Pole

The vibe expansy by Ancestros passed since then between successes, prizes and tours; while the children grew up between sound consoles, rehearsals and backstage. In the 90s, Síntesis became the favorite band of many Cubans while X frequently escaped from the conservatory, where he was bored, but he breathed music at home and in that group in which he was having an increasingly important role, now next to that other discreet and valuable component called Esteban Puebla. 

We all wanted more of that substance… They arrived ancestors 2, later Orishas… new singers and instrumentalists passed through the group. By then, X and Eme had merged in turn at that time. nucleus primary, contributing and making grow not only the family but the musical strength that he brought with him. Absorbing, expanding, expanding… 

“In the process of nuclear fusion”, keeps saying the dictionary of physics, "When the nuclei get bigger, due to the electrostatic force, the energy per nucleon increases without possible limit".  

It is what, without a doubt, has happened to Eme. From chorister of Síntesis to a beautiful solo career as a performer, without leaving the parent group, to composer, arranger, producer, cultural manager and leader of Havana World Music, one of the events with the most swing and concept of all those that take place in the country. 

For his part, what X Alfonso will do during the 21st century with all that accumulated musical vigor, with all that explosive power already directed artistically, is, in addition to being well known by those of us who have been lucky enough to be his contemporaries at the same time, easily traceable on the internet and too comprehensive to detail here, without abusing the reader.  

But —and here is the second point that I must try to prove— just when we already imagined that he had thrown everything out, that he no longer needs to prove anything else —not even to himself— because it has become clear to everyone that he is a kind of King Midas, when we thought that he could stay calm and enjoy his glories and the results of his incredible ideas, when we also thought that Ancestros it was insurmountable… X decides to resume those works and elevate them to a new level, sublime both for its aesthetic value and for its ability to move us. 

Sublimation, in addition to also belonging as a process to physics (for example, it is what causes the tail of comets), is a concept in psychoanalysis. “It is the way of channeling harmful impulses towards constructive behaviors, of 'channeling' energies, giving them a productive purpose, creative in this case. It is a defense mechanism, but, unlike the defense mechanism that causes wars, sublimation indicates the maturity of the subject to relieve their tensions, creating”.

Let us imagine X Alfonso, the restless child, the rowdy teenager, the fiery young man, the enterprising adult, locked up in Europe during the entire pandemic, alone with his wife and little girl, with no additional interaction possible, other than those allowed a connected computer. Let us imagine this being with a brutal energy concentration, a person who is in himself the fusion of all cores, items and entities musicals that have been mentioned here, further spurred on by that exalted spark called Leo Brouwer who, from a distance, incites him, stimulates him... Imagine that man about to turn all the vital experience he accumulates into a very intense detonation, into an explosion creative in all directions... 

That magnificent burst is Ancestors Symphonic.  

Avatar photo Darsi Fernández Hyperlink with human figure. He has a bad memory only for what suits him. He dreams of retiring to read. More posts

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  1. kevin says:

    Nothing…X broke the bat!

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