The unique Snowball
Presenting Bola de Nieve… Saying over and over again: Bola de Nieve has been, is and will be. But how? Does that still have to be said, and repeated, as if the grinning black singer were flirtatious with his art, an art at which he is unsurpassed master? What is not known is presented, what is new, so that others know what to expect. But Ball? It is as if we were saying: “well, look now, do you see? That elastic quadruped, with an august and elegant rhythm, with yellow fur, abundant mane and bloody eyes and sharp and strong fangs, which also roars as if it were a lion, is precisely that, a lion. Do not fool yourself; not be fooled. It is the true king of the jungles, the heraldic symbol of numerous dynasties, etc. In short, something that naturalists (and that's how all high school graduates learned it) mysteriously call felis leo. Silly, isn't it? Yeah, silly.
Bola de Nieve belongs to our folklore. It has the same category as the Bandstand, let's say, or Papa Montero. Years will pass and he will die, and the one who is going to sign this chronicle too. However, Bola will remain in history, and, what is more poetic, in legend, where history is powerless to explain it to us. Who can fix today the personal, intimate characteristics, the comings and goings, in what eagerness, through the streets of Santiago, of that free black woman who was Ma' Teodora? Yes, there is your son, there is your rate (or your conditions) to entertain parties and saraos in the stately mansions of the Cuban XVI, in the east of the Island.
But the rest must be invented, must be invented. Invent her voice, her nose, the mastery of her hands strumming the bandola. And although much of this must be something that can be seen in Bola, because now we have magical means that did not exist in the times of the very famous Dominican, there is always a margin for the imagination, which no graphic document is yet able to give, nor maybe never reach to give. That margin is what those of us who have the opportunity to see, to hear, to touch in the flesh and bone, enjoy today, the great national singer, our, unique, Creole from the rubber heels of his shoes to the round and smooth skull , full of musical wisdom.
Man, on purpose. Some time ago I said that Bola had never seen Rigoletto, nor had he given Chopin concerts. From which someone drew as a consequence that for me Bola was a kind of uneducated, wild genius, who could use a page of I-don't-know-who, or the interpretation of I-don't-know-which. No, I didn't say that, I can't say that either. What I said was that Bola is something more than all that, and that, even knowing what he knows, he does the other thing, his thing — our thing — which is more important, or at least as important as the others. He doesn't give Chopin concerts, because he gives them by Bola; Rigoletto does not sing, because Mesié Julián sings, which Chopin and Verdi would applaud if they lived and knew Bola and heard him play and sing.
Well, Bola, in addition to his musical culture, has a well-done literary culture. His talk (not public, since he is not a chatterbox of that sort, but rather the current and popular conversation between friends) is always sprinkled with ingenuity, which makes the observation of the classic good, according to which, the ability to say jokes is a sign of great intelligence.
In short, nothing more; I finish here. You shouldn't talk about Bola, but rather sit down and listen to him. Capture, receive, save, archive all the emotions that the next concert will arouse in your spirit. We'll see each other later, at the end of tonight. Yes, I know from now on what you are going to tell me. You are right...and so am I.
2 Knight of Olmedo (John Solano)
3 La Vie En Rose (Edith Piff)
4 Be Careful It's My Heart (IrvinBerlin)
5 Santa Chiara Monastery (A. Barbierli)
6 I can not be happy (Adolfo Guzman)
7 Oh Love (Ignatius Villa)
8 Vete de mí (Exposito Brothers)
9 Cinnamon's flower (Chabuca Grande)
10 don't let me forget you (Ignatius Villa)
11 you have to love me (Ignatius Villa)
12 Why did you let me love her? (Ignatius Villa)
13 I do not want you to forget me (Ignatius Villa)
14 if you could love me (Ignatius Villa)
15 my soul (Mary Grever)
16 Don't deny that you loved me (Jorge del Moral)
17 Absence (Mary Grever)
18 Tú no sospechas (Marta Valdes)
19 I will forget you (Manuel Merodi)
20 Babalu (Margarita Lecuona)
21 Drum Bold (Emile Grenet)
22 Oh Mama Ines (Elisha Grenet)
23 Vito Manuel (Guillen-Grenet)
24 wake up (Elisha Grenet)
25 Goat That Breaks Tambo (Moses Simons)
26 peanut (Moses Simons)
27 Messiah Julian (Armando Orefiche)
Music production and selection: Jorge Rodriguez
Copy and edition: Amanda Ruiz
Graphic design: Reinerio Tamayo
Egrem Recording Studios, Havana City, Cuba, 1992