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Giving the note Golden Boleros

Golden Boleros

The Cuban bolero, as a musical form, was born in the 80s of the 19th century, in Santiago de Cuba, derived from the songwriting expressions from Spain. The troubadours, armed with guitars and with their lyrical voices, were nativeizing rhythms and strums, with the so-called metric pattern cinquillo. The bolero is considered sadness, by Pepe Sánchez (1883), as the oldest example of the genre, although at that time they sang their troubadour boleros such as Juan de Dios Echevarría, Eulalio Limonta, and others.

The trova travels throughout the country and reaches the province of Pinar del Río, where María Teresa Vera was born, who, in 1935, in Havana, composed her Havana-song Veinte años, with lyrics by Enma Núñez.[1] The interpretation that appears in this Anthology was recorded, in 1956, by María Teresa and Lorenzo Hierrezuelo, who maintained an unforgettable duo for 27 years. The beautiful voice and melodic sense of Guanajay's favorite daughter and Hierrezuelo's excellent second stand out.

Eusebio Delfin undoubtedly renewed the Cuban song. Thing that is evident in his bolero that mouth, which appears on a recording by Barbarito Diez, with an extraordinary second by Carlos Querol, one of the greatest second voices in Cuba. The accompaniment is provided by the Antonio Ma. Romeu orchestra, which also backs Barbarito in evil eyes, by Cristina Saladrigas, author of a short work; the pearls in your mouth, bolero composed by Eliseo Grenet, with lyrics by Armando Bronca, perhaps the most important work of this creator; Y A rose from France, composed in 1924 by Rodrigo Prats, with text by Gabriel Gravier, a jewel of the Cuban songbook.

Manuel Corona is, along with Sindo Garay, one of the two most outstanding figures of trova. His songs and boleros are anthological, both for their lyrics, of high poetry, and for their melodies, of unusual richness. Two of his best-known works are included in this album, dawn, performed by the duo of the Martí Sisters, and Longina, also in the unbeatable interpretation of Cuca and Berta Martí.

De Sindo offers his bolero return, created in 1926, with its sonera lineage cinquillo, and its rich and elaborate harmonic structure, in a version by Dominica Verges, with a well-pitched voice, with a second played by Adriano Rodriguez, and Cotan Sanchez and Ismael Sanchez. Another masterful duet offers Alfredo and Bienvenido León, son and father, in Pensamiento, by Raphael theophyllite Gómez, a song that emerged within the framework of the Sancti Spíritus key choirs. And the anthological duo of María Teresa Vera and Lorenzo Hierrezuelo is reiterated in The Red Rose, by the Havanan author Oscar Hernández, and in black Wedding, the tremendous song by Alberto Villalón, with verses by the Colombian priest Carlos Borges, which still shakes the receiving public today. The guitars of Roberto González and Orestes Gutiérrez accompany Ramón Veloz in the nostalgic song false, by Graciano Gómez, with a poem by Gustavo Sánchez Galarraga.

Lágrimas negras, by Miguel Matamoros, was the first bolero-son, mixed genre, which today we would call fusion, where a first bolero part is heard, with its characteristic cinquillo and a montuno in the final part, with which a new formal structure is born . Here it appears, of course, in the interpretation of the Trio Matamoros, made up of Siro (Rodríguez). Cueto (Rafael) and Miguel (Matamoros). From Matamoros is also inserted, the beautiful bolero mystical claim, in an unbeatable version by Pablo Milanés, with second by the albino Luis Peña, and the guitar accompaniment of Cotan Sánchez and Luis Peña, the man with the sweetest sound on the guitar that Creole song has known. The plucked string is also the support on which the voice of Miriam Ramos stands, who by technological magic becomes second to herself, interpreting sublime illusion, by the Santiago composer Salvador Adams, with a base set by the guitar and that of Francisco Amat. A treat for the ears. As is the classic version of Absence, by Jaime Prats, performed by Esther Borja in two voices, with the pianos of Luis Carbonell and Numidia Vaillant. or the bolero perjured woman, by the Sancti Spiritus troubadour Miguel Companioni, composed in 1918, which comes to us in the voices of the duet Cabrisas (Jesus)-Farah (Irene), where the characteristic that the cousin is made by Jesus and the second Irene is observed, in the way that Clara and Mario then worked. Jesús, nephew of Matanzas poet Hilarión Cabrisas; Irene, descendant of a family of musicians from Caibarién, is accompanied by the piano of Julio Gutiérrez and the organ of Aldolfo Guzmán.

There are two boleros that are taken to the rhythm of bolero-cha, in another example of fusion. the kleptomaniac, by the troubadour from Matanzas Manuel Luna, with verses by his countryman Agustín Acosta, in the soneado style and the aged voice of Abelardo Barroso, with the Sensación orchestra, and Hate you, by Félix B. Caignet, also in the voice of Abelardo Barroso, with the backing of the Gloria Matancera ensemble. Complete the disc, a modern version of If I get to kiss you, recorded in 1996, by Manolo del Valle, with the Orquesta América. 

This first volume of the Cuban Bolero Anthology offers us a journey through the work, form and content of the initiators of the genre, who, with their voices, guitars, and sometimes piano, set the way in which this music has transcended, essentially romantic, not only throughout the landscape of the Island, but throughout the entire American continent. 

Vol II 

Around 1940 a generation of creators began to stand out who brought new ways to song and bolero. As a precursor and outstanding personality, we must mention Ernesto Lecuona, who not only produced his marvelous dances for piano, or his Hispanic suite, or his music with a folk stamp, but also anthological songs and boleros. That afternoon, composed in 1925, can be heard in the voice of its best performer, Esther Borja, with Nelson Camacho on piano, and Like lullaby of palms, from 1932, in contrast, is offered in the unexpected version, very personal by Benny Moré, with the backing of his Giant Band. In this line of lyrical bolero is inscribed since you're leaving, by his sister Margarita Lecuona, which we toast in the pleasant, well-pitched voice of Fernando Albuerne, accompanied by the Félix Guerrero Orchestra.

There is an interesting type of bolero that emerged in the late 1930s, which is the soneado bolero, that is, it has partly melodic cancionero lyrics, but a sonero rhythmic background. It is the case of Very close to the heart, by Rafael Ortiz, who sings Pepe Olmo with the Aragón Orchestra; Convergence, by Bienvenido Julián Gutiérrez and Marcelino Guerra, told by Miguelito Cuní, no less, with Niño Rivera's septet; Y My way, which Félix Valoy and Ignacio Guanche sing as a duo, with Adalberto Álvarez's ensemble.

A close relative of the bolero sounded by septets and ensembles is the bolero made by popular vocalists with charanga-type orchestras, that is, with a danzonero sound. Here you have to place pieces like black flowers, by Sergio D'Karlo, a rare creator who, apart from his musical work, made many films as an actor and dancer in Hollywood. It is very possible that the best interpreter of this bolero is Paulina Álvarez, who made several recordings, including this one with the accompaniment of the Rafael Somavilla orchestra. Y sweet disappointment, by Amado Beltrán, of which Tito Gómez makes a notable version, with the Enrique Jorrín Orchestra. Y flower of absence, by Julio Brito, which we decided to include in the vocal version by Pablo Milanés, with the second voice of Adriano Rodríguez, and the guitar of Octavio Cotan Sánchez, for its originality and quality. and the paradigmatic soul of a woman (I loved you with the soul of a child…) by the unjustly forgotten Armando Valdespí, in a version of the Cienfuegos Empress, Paulina Alvarez, in a little-known recording with Senén Suárez's group. 

The bolero of the composers-pianists is very representative of this moment. It is the case of universal Us, composed by the creator from Pinar del Río, Pedro Junco, in 1938, and which enjoys a successful version, widely distributed, by the Orquesta Aragón, with the voices of Pepe Olmo, Rafael Bacallao, and Rafael Lay. And of Toda una vida, by Osvaldo Farrés, which comes in the voice and style of Omara Portuondo, accompanied by the All Stars Orchestra. That's why you shouldn't, by Margarita Lecuona, is part of this piano bolero of the 40s, something evident in the vocal-instrumental performance given by Orlando Vallejo with the orchestra and arrangement by Bebo Valdes. Y Like my gray life, by Graciela Párraga, with text by Luis de Soto, in the voices of Clara and Mario, with the backing of the Egrem Orchestra. Y Love me again, by Mario Álvarez, by Esther Montalván, an excellent singer and pianist, accompanied by the All-Star Orchestra.

Those green eyes, by the Matanzas composer Nilo Menéndez, from 1929, began a path for the Cuban bolero, by ending the hegemony of the cinquillo, and bringing the presence of the North American song-show, and a different piano accompaniment. The Cabrisas-Farah duo gives us their version, together with the pianos of Julio Gutiérrez and Adolfo Guzmán. An outstanding follower of this line is the unrepeatable Ignacio Villa Snowball, who made excellent songs, within his short catalogue, such as if you could love me, which demonstrates its ductility and modernity by being performed, as a danceable bolero, by Lino Borges, with the Cubasón Ensemble, directed by Jorge Varona.

The bolero of the 40s has its stamp of victory, something evident in the recording of Blanca Rosa Gil, of the bolero I want to talk to you, by Carlos Puebla, with the Joaquín Mendível orchestra. This bolero from Puebla, and by the way, the best of Manzanillo music are its boleros, it can unfold in a troubadour, pristine interpretation, and in a bolero with nocturnality, as in this sound example. Although contemporary, the bolero Until tomorrow, my life (1948) by Rosendo Ruiz, has another stylistic conformation. It can be rhythmic, as trios of voices and guitars usually play, but it also supports a filine interpretation, since it is a work located, like its creator, within the filin movement. 

The universal love me a lot, creole-bolero written in 1923 by Gonzalo Roig, appears in this volume due to the modernity of its interpretation and orchestration. The verses of Golluri-Rodríguez, and the beautiful melody, take on a contemporary voice in the voice of Omara Portuondo, and the Gonzalo Romeu orchestra. Formidable closing for this concert.

Vol III 

Perhaps the richest stage of the Cuban bolero takes place between 1945 and 1955, a golden decade. It is the hour in which the union of traditional, lyrical songs culminates, with the good influence of North American and Mexican song, and the filin is drawn. A forerunner of all this history is René Touzet, especially with his bolero don't mind knowing, which we hear in the voice and mastery of Omara Portuondo, with the orchestra conducted by Aldolfo Guzmán. By Adolfo Guzmán is precisely another work of this line, I can not be happy, also sung by Omara, but with the accompaniment of the Julio Gutiérrez orchestra. Another precursor is Orlando de la Rosa, who bequeathed us masterful songs, such as Our lives, which we are inclined to put in a different version than the usual ones, sui generis, very personal, by Celeste Mendoza, with the Generoso Orchestra Gorse Jimenez. And Julio Gutiérrez, excellent musician, pianist, director, orchestrator, whose song is included Unforgettable (“In life there are loves that can never be forgotten”…), sung in his own way by Rolando Laserie, in a guaguancoseado, handsome style, with the orchestra and arrangement by Bebo Valdés. And also from Laserie is the aggressive version of lies of yours, by another pianist-composer, Mario Fernández Porta, but this time with the orchestra and arrangement by Ernesto Duarte.

Other pianist-composers of the 1940s appear here with their most transcendental works. Isolina Carrillo, with Two gardenias, written in 1947, and initially recorded by the Puerto Rican Daniel Santos, and that, although it has had innumerable versions, the author prefers this one by Fernando Álvarez, with the Egrem Orchestra, conducted by Rolando Baró, Candito Ruiz, with his bolero Leave away, in an equally rare performance by Gina León, with the Ensemble led by Adalberto Álvarez, Juan Bruno Tarraza, with Free Soul, immortalized in the voices of Alfredo Sadel and Benny Moré, but which we wanted to include in this successful version by Amelita Frades, with the Bebo Valdés Orchestra. And Fernando Mulens, of whom we deliver his anthological bolero What did I ask of you?, with lyrics by Gabriel de la Fuente. The chosen interpreter is Mrs. Elena Burke, that is to say, the ideal interpreter, the arrangement is by Enriqueta Almanza, who also directs the All Stars Orchestra.

The conjuntero bolero, the danceable bolero, which lived for years in the victrolas throughout Cuba, is represented by treacherous deadlines, by Luis Marquetti, composed in 1953, in his alquizareño corner, and which enjoyed an inaugural recording by Celio González. Now we offer it in the bolero voice of Manolo del Valle, backed by the Egrem Orchestra, conducted by Tony Taño. And you can't miss that classic called things of the soul, by the pianist Pepe Delgado, in an endearing version by Raúl Planas, with the Kubavana ensemble, directed by Carlos Barbería. As neither aimless gale, by Artemiseño José Dolores Quiñones, in the voice of Celio González, accompanied by Dean Sonora Matancera. Neither Comprehension, by Cristóbal Dobal, sung by his unavoidable vocalist, the idol of Regla, Roberto Faz, with his ensemble. 

If it's about victroleros boleros, it's inevitable Total, by Ricardo García Perdomo, one of the examples of the genre with the largest number of recordings in the world. Nico Membiela, in 1960, achieved enormous popularity with this piece accompanied by the Joaquín Mendível orchestra. Like The last night, by Bobby Collazo, written in Mexico, in 1947, and premiered by Pedro Vargas. The rhythmic support of the piece is the slow mambo, which is why it classifies as one of the first bolero-mambos. The version that we insert is by Olga River, one of the vocalists who opened a new way of saying in the mid-40s, with the Julio Gutiérrez orchestra.

Another bolero is that of the son ensembles, and of the composers attached to the line of son-guaguancó, afro, black, and of the dominant singers of that sphere. This is called loving, by Guantanamo director Lily Martínez Griñan, played by Miguelito Cuní, with Niño Rivera's ensemble, is a good example, as is Life is a Dream, by Arsenio Rodríguez, pure deep popular philosophy, in the voice of Merceditas Valdés, with the All Stars Orchestra, directed by Guillermo Barreto.

Around these final years of the 1940s, the filin line began to manifest itself, a type of song with its own characteristics, made by a group of creators who generally accompanied themselves with the guitar. From the formal, melodic, and harmonic point of view, it constitutes a renewal of songwriting. The works are interpreted at will, that is, without a metric subject, and the singer, rather than sing, in the orthodox sense, says, expresses, with filin, consent. These songs include, in their own way, a thousand sorrows, by Juan Pablo Miranda, in the voice of Mrs. Elena Burke, accompanied by the Rafael Somavilla orchestra and In us, by Tania Castellanos, which we offer in the vocal version of Pacho Alonso, with Los Pachucos.

Close this third volume with a jewel, soul with soul, by Juanito Márquez from Holguin, performed by its best singer, Tito Gómez, and the Riverside Orchestra. The premiere of this bolero took place in 1956, and it was delivered to Pedro Vila, director of the orchestra, by Márquez, in Holguín. When rehearsing the piece, in Havana, Vila and the musicians of the best jazz-band from Cuba, were amazed by its modernity: the arrangement had a creative advance of several years.

Vol IV  

In this volume we enter the field of filin, with some small boleros-boleros interference. Almost all the pieces came out in the 50's. Songs like Contigo en la distancia, by César Portillo de la Luz, composed in 1946, where the defining elements of the filin mode are established, and which the author performs on this album accompanying himself on the guitar; you my delirium, also by Portillo de la Luz, composed in 1954, which comes to us with Ela Calvo backed by the Orquesta Aragón; The glory are you, by José Antonio Méndez, sung by Elena Burke, with the trio Los Hidalgos; Y if you understood mes, by Méndez, performed by the author together with Frank Emilio's group. 

The movement of the boys of the filin was nourished by Luis Yáñez and Rolando Gómez, authors of oh life, which appears on this CD performed by Miriam Ramos, with the group Algo Nuevo, directed by Juan Pablo Torres; Ñico Rojas, magnificent composer of pieces for guitar, author of beautiful songs such as my yesterday, which allows Argelia Fragoso to be heard, accompanied by the Orquesta Aragón; Jorge Mazon author of You, my blue rose, with unsurpassed text, melody and harmony, here in a version by Pablo Milanés, with the guitars of Martín Rojas and Eduardo Ramos; Pedro Vega, author of Hoy como ayer, with its reminiscence of blues, in the anthological interpretation of Benny Moré and his Giant Band; and Piloto (Giraldo) and Vera (Alberto), who enriched the filinero catalog with Añorado encuentro, superbly performed by Elena Burke, accompanied by the All Stars Orchestra, conducted by Enriqueta Almanza.

A second batch of cultivators of the filinesque sling arrived during the late 1950s with Frank Domínguez, and his shamelessly good songs, such as Imágenes that we hear in the voice and style of Pacho Alonso, with the Bebo Valdés orchestra and Tú me acostumbraste, performed by the author, with the support of the Egrem Orchestra, directed by Rey Montesinos. And he came with Marta Valdés, and her surprising songs, among which stands out Tú no sospechas, which acquires an endearing nuance in his voice, accompanied by the guitar.

Some boleros, although located in the stylistic atmosphere of the filin, are something else, to the point that they line up with dance music, indebted to the orchestral sound. It is the case of Cómo fue, by Ernesto Duarte, of which Benny Moré gave an unforgettable performance, with Duarte's own orchestra: I feel sorry for that, by Juan Arrondo, which was also coined by Benny but we offer it in another successful version by Clara (Morales) and Mario (Rodríguez), with the Egrem Orchestra; What make you think (“My soul that makes you think”…), by Ricardo Pérez, also in the voice of the barbaric Benny Moré, with his Giant Band; Y Fleeting love, by Bartolomé Moré himself, in a very personal version by Miriam Ramos, with the group Algo Nuevo directed by Juan Pablo Torres. 

on that balcony, by Leopoldo Ulloa, is a romantic bolero that is undoubtedly within the victrolero world. The voice of José Tejedor is inserted on this album, backed by the Musicuba Ensemble, directed by the pianist Pepito López. 

Si te contara, by the violinist Félix Reina is another bolero-cha, which is inserted into the music to be listened to but can also be danced to, of course. It is one of those numbers that are located in the songbook Olympus. Elena Burke's interpretation, accompanied by a large orchestra under the direction of maestro Enrique Jorrín, further highlights the intrinsic values of the piece.

Perhaps one of the songs that culminates and closes the imprint of the filin is you my disappointment, by Pablo Milanés, composed in 1962. It is a bridge work of transition between the classic filin and the new song. The vocal interpretation of Pablo himself, with the guitars of Marón Rojas and Eduardo Ramos, signs this affirmation and the anthology ends with a work by Amaury Pérez, keep this bolero, halfway between the romantic bolero and the ballad, leading to the aesthetics of the Nueva Trova. The author himself is his best interpreter, which is evident in this version with the accompaniment of the Egrem Orchestra conducted by Hilario Durán.

These recordings, lost and recovered in the stock of the Recordings and Musical Editions Company of Cuba, show that the bolero is an immortal genre, rooted in being and feeling, in the sensitivity and memory of various generations. Now he returns, returned to the ears of music lovers in Cuba, Latin America and the world. His lyrics, his melodies, his harmonies, will continue to sound in voices of always, like a concert that does not end.

[1] We have respected the original text, but in copyright entities Guillermina Aramburu appears as the author of the lyrics of Veinte años (N. of the. E).

Production and musical selection: Jorge Rodríguez 

Mastering: Jerzy Belé 

File: Nancy Hernandez 

Graphic Design: Ricardo Monnar 

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