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Articles Martirio and Marta Valdés. Photo: Martirio's Facebook page.

It is the story of a love

This is the story of a love, what's the song say. The story of a tribe of musicians born in Spanish territory who fell in love with Cuba and its music.

Santiago Auserón defines it as a disease, “a disease of love” in which he fell in 1984, his first trip to Havana in full effervescence of Radio Futura, his band, one of the best in the history of rock in Spain. Radio Futura marked an era and Auserón, in full success, decided to make a compilation of traditional Cuban music by the hand of the poet and journalist Bladimir Zamora and the musicologist Danilo Orozco, both already deceased. There were five albums released by BMG between 1991 and 1992 under the name of Semilla del Son. For the presentation, in February 1991, He took El Guayabero to Madrid. The next fruits were the Encounter with the Son Cubano in 1993 in Madrid, and the Encounters El Son Cubano and Flamenco I and II in 1994 and 1995, in Seville. There traveled the last two years Compay Segundo, and in November of that last he recorded his Anthology de Francisco Recopilado, edited a year later by Dro, through which Ry Cooder met Compay. In those meetings concerts of seven flamenco groups and seven of the son were scheduled. In the last edition, 46 musicians traveled from several provinces of Cuba, always accompanied by Zamora and Orozco.

At the end of 94 Auserón recorded for a month and a half in the Areíto Studios from the Egrem his first album as Juan Perro with Cuban, British and Spanish musicians, including Pancho Amat, who still collaborates with him today, and the bass player from Pamplona, Javier Colina. Raíces al viento (BMG, 1995) was the first of four phonograms recorded in Havana. They stayed at the Riviera, where NG La Banda, La Charanga Habanera, El Salsa Doctor and Los Van Van and Juan Formell performed every week. Colina remembers it as a crucial moment: “My life is divided between before Juan Perro's album and after. Before and after going to Cuba. (…) I liked Cuban music, I knew songs. ” His mother sang Cuban songs to him when he was a child and at a young age he had spent several summers in Miami, playing the accordion with friends at the restaurants on Calle 8. But it's Santiago Auserón who exercises Celestina: “He was setting up a group to Juan Perro's character, and a double bass that sounded with a different timbral was needed. And when we recorded the album in Havana, it exploded. (…) When you see that musical height, that different music, you change the way you think. ”

Santiago himself explains it this way in the presentation text of Colina's first personal album Si te contara, recorded in 2004 in Havana with Cuban and Spanish musicians, including Auserón himself: “I had the privilege of attending a few years ago in Havana to his meet with the trova, rumba, and son, with Tata Güines and Pancho Amat He accompanied me on a trip in search of borders and He went into some of them until he soaked in depth of their aromas. To his nature as an integral musician, as a sound poet, he has added a background of experiences that make him an indispensable guide for Spanish music, in all its genres. ” In those ten years, from the first time that he steps on Cuba until he returns for his album, he records and turns on four Martirio albums with a Latin American popular repertoire - also Cuban - taken to flamenco. He meets Marta Valdés in Madrid in 1999, on the recording of her album Tú no sospechas with Chano Domínguez and Guillermo McGill. Take part in Fernando Trueba's documentary about Latin jazz, nominated for an Oscar, Calle 54, in which Cuba is represented by Bebo and Chucho Valdés and Paquito D'Rivera. He Records and tours in the multi-prize and bestseller Lágrimas Negras Diego El Cigala and Bebo Valdés, with whom they win a Grammy.

Marta and Bebo make their mark on Javier. “To all the people I have been with, I have never asked anything. What hits you, hits you. (…) Bebo hit me the manias that he had. And tastes. ” For Bebo, Javier was "one of the best bass players I've ever played with, and without a doubt the most complete." Together they recorded a concert at the Village Vanguard in New York. It was Bebo's penultimate record, before Juntos para siempre (Sony Music Latin, 2008) with Chucho.

Marta is dedicated to her second personal project, En la Imaginación (Karonte / Nuba Records, 2011) with Sílvia Pérez Cruz. The repertoire is Cuban, with the exception of a theme by the Mexican María Grever, and is composed of ten songs from the 40s and 50s of heartbreak blended with dignity. When they take him to the live show, Javier insists on presenting him to his “natural” audience and in December of that same year they bring him to the La Caridad Theater in Santa Clara and the Theater of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, with Pancho Amat the final guest Sílvia, Albert Sanz - the pianist - and Marc Miralta - the drummer - they stay pledged by Marta in a meeting at a piano bar in the Plaza de la Lonja de Comercio. At that time Sílvia connects with the love for Cuban music that her father had inoculated since childhood. She had already been to Havana a couple of times: the first time very fleeting, when she played with Pancho Amat and Refree at the inauguration of the restoration of a section of Barcelona street, and the second time, in 2010, where he performed with his father at the Federico García Lorca Theater (currently the Alicia Alonso Theater in Havana), as part of the program of La Huella Festival of Spain.

Càstor Pérez Diz, composer, guitarist and singer of Havanans, in love with Cuba, where he was more than twenty times in his 54 years, in addition to songs he left what is probably the most important file on Havana. Sílvia wrote these words of dedication in the thanks of En la imaginación: "Thank you for taking me to Cuba and making me listen to these songs as a child (I think this is the album that you would have liked more than all the ones I ever made)" Since then, Sílvia and Colina have continued to play together occasionally on different projects; This summer they have been in the main festivals of the peninsula with Toquinho. In 2012 they repeated in Reencuentro con el Güito, a show with the gaditano pianist Javier Galiana created for the Summer Festival of Igualada.

Javier Colina and Sílvia Pérez Cruz with Marta Valdés, in 2012. Photo: Gisela Sais.

Galiana, a graduate in flamenco-jazz, coincided with Sílvia Pérez Cruz at the recently released ESMUC, the first Catalan music university ubicated in Barcelona. Galiana and Sílvia meet eachother on the part of jazz and flamenco, but not on Cuban music, which is familiar to him - his parents, both music lovers medics, have an impressive discography in the music room, which presides the home— and geographically: “Cádiz is Havana with more blacks, Havana, Cádiz with more salt shakers,” says the poem Habaneras de Cádiz Antonio Burgos Carlos Cano played music. Javier Galiana passed through Havana in March 2006, was Manu Chao's keyboard player on that Latin American tour that stopped at the Anti-Imperialist Tribune. But most of all what he loves are the listeners and the readings and dares to interpret an exquisite and histrionically moderated Bola de Nieve in Tomate TrÍo y Cebolla Canta a Bola de nieve (Underpool, 2014).

Who has just paid homage to el Bola is Martirio, this time next to Chano Domínguez, with whom he meets again after his Acoplados (Karonte, 2004). Mario Pacheco, creator and director of Nuevos Medios, the record company that housed the flamingos who dared to mix with other music, dear friend and to whom she dedicated the song in 1988 El productor, in 1983 he gave her a record of del Bola and another of María Teresa Vera, He asks her insistently to listen to them because they had so much to do with her. Was it “a premonition,” as Maribel Quiñones says, the real name that appears behind the sunglasses?

His incorporation into this great family of bewitched was younger: “My relationship with Cuban music comes from my love for the Nueva Trova, which was the first thing I learned at the age of 19 years old, and I listened with authentic veneration to the songs of Silvio and Pablo " Years later he met Gema Corredera and Pavel Urkiza in Madrid: "I became a regular at their concerts, their friend and a fan of their songs." With Gema they recorded choirs in the Pensión Triana (Lollipop, 1994) by Javier Ruibal. Then the three met on the disk Homenaje a María Teresa Vera, in which the Cuban Algeria Fragoso is also included, who also recorded an album with Colina. It was Gema and Pavel who introduced her to the world of Marta Valdés in 1996, "since then I have the honor of being her friend, whom my son Raul and I adore." At that time they also introduce her Compay Segundo, who invites her to a concert and they end up singing Veinte años duet “There I began to learn more about Cuban popular music and also listen through the Semilla del Son, compiled by Santiago Auserón ”.

He travels to Havana for the first time, invited to Compay's 90th birthday, where he meets and sings with Omara Portuondo, “something that I have been lucky to do so much again”; Marta introduces Elena Burke, “I remember that she asked me to sing and on her knees, sitting next to her, I sang Ojos verdes, in a moment that for me was a gift of life ”; and again by the hand of Marta Valdés arrives at the Monseigneur Club, “where the figure of El Bola transpired and where I could meet the incredible Frank Emilio, who received me playing Ojos verdes"

His collaboration with Compay is repeated in several concerts, two at the Olympia in Paris that are registered in Compay Segundo. Olympia Paris, 1998. His discography as well as his life is flecked by this musical love. In Flor de piel there is the influence of Marta and Mucho corazón —nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2002—, he is inspired by El Bola; two discs in which the double bass is from Colina. Primavera en Nueva York (Calle 54 Records, 2006) are 12 boleros filin of Cuban authors. A year after the release of this last album he meets José María Vitier, with whom he collaborates first, to record later El aire que te rodea (Sony, 2011). They perform at the Cubadisco Awards gala, where they give her the International Prize. There also travels Raul Rodriguez, his son, the boy who was in all, and the tree paid off.

Raúl was 20 years old when he first saw someone playing the Cuban tres, and he was nothing less than El Guayabero at the El Son Cubano and Flamenco Meetings, in Seville. “It was a revelation for us, it was a meeting ceremony of old son and flamenco. (...) The impact of the instrument, El Guayabero and what was happening ... There I began to work on the idea of putting this instrument into flamenco ”. And when his mother went to Havana for Compay Segundo's birthday, he asked for a tres. “When I started studying it, there was no one in Seville who could teach me, there was no YouTube. We had the cassettes and discs to give them back. I had to make my own method and I was incorporating flamenco guitar techniques ”. "I started taking it to Morón and introducing it to the parties, in the most used environment, between the singing of the taverns." He had studied Anthropology and flamenco guitar according to the touch of Morón by Diego el Gastor. And since 2003 it begins to cross both experiences.

Create Son de la Frontera, a flamenco dance group that makes a reading of the music of Diego el Gastor from the encounter of the guitar and the tres. In parallel with Alexis Díaz Pimienta they put on the show Punto Flamenco. Repentismo a compás, in which they mix punto guajiro and flamenco point. He presents both projects in Havana at the Cubadisco of 2004. “For me, Cuba tastes like imagination. It is a sister land, (...) we have been 400 years together and only a few decades apart, so we are very similar cultures. And with that three brought from Havana, playing Morón music we have had great moments. ”

In 2014, he gives birth to his first solo work, a book-disc with his own texts and compositions, the result of anthropological research on round-trip songs, the exchange between both Atlantic shores and he presents it next to a new instrument, the tres Flamenco, which allows you to "play all the music I like from a free posture." It is built on a pear-shaped flamenco guitar body, with woods and an internal flamenco guitar system, it has tres double strings, like the tres, in which it combines Spanish laúd strings with flamenco guitar strings. Compay Segundo also invented an instrument with a sound similar to tres, the harmonic. It has a requinto body - similar to the guitar, but smaller, widely used in bolero trios - and seven strings, six of steel and a seventh that doubles the third. A couple of years ago Raúl has dared to give him a twist and make the electric tres, with which he connects flamenco with afrobeat, psychedelia, they are Cuban, voodoo rhythms, Andalusian rock, American author song and blues, in a project called La raíz eléctrica.

In this circular story, Raúl Rodríguez represents evolution, the fruit of that seed that Santiago Auserón planted in Madrid and Seville, backed by the cultural policies of that time, in the mid-90s. Seen now, 25 years later, it seems impossible that no institution invests in mobilizing 50 musicians across the Atlantic to join them with many others, to see what happens. That only gives cultural returns. Javier Colina said these days that the meetings between the Cuban son and flamenco "were once great, I met many people besides El Guayabero and Compay Segundo. From today's perspective, it looks like an impressive thing. Then it seemed normal to us, but having all those people was very noticeable because they had never gone there. ”

Santiago Auserón in a recent concert at the FAC, 2019. Photo: Gisela Sais.

Closing the circle we have Santiago Auserón, who continues with the umbilical cord connected to the Pearl of the Caribbean. He comes frequently and offers concerts with different formations, with symphony, his quintet or solo, as the last time, in July of this year, at the Cuban Art Factory. Four Spanish Spaniards attended who learned by chance, in addition to staff from the Embassy of Spain, an institution that invited him on the occasion of the Gibara International Film Festival, where he also share. The same thing always happens, the promotion is scarce or nil, and, consequently, it is not very public. Who knows in Cuba who is Santiago Auserón and the other protagonists of this text, besides Marta Valdés and René Espí? I do not speak of the youngest or the general public but of the musicians or lovers of Cuban music. Why this ignorance? Where has the lap been locked, in these round-trip music?

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  1. Beautiful and documented what Gisela Sais has written about this true love story! In addition, because, certainly, I do not think that many know it as it should be. Thanks Gisela and AMPM !!

  2. Gisela says:

    Thank you very much Rosa, coming from you the compliment multiplies. Hug and affection

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