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Reviews Idania Valdes. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini / Courtesy of the artist. Idania Valdes. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini / Courtesy of the artist.

Idania Valdés: Beyond the social club / Idania Valdés

“This you are hearing / It is no longer me / It is the echo of a feeling”. I am pleased to start this review of the CD/DVD with this. Idania Valdés: Beyond the social club (Egrem, 2021), presented on April 23 on the different digital platforms. The quote, taken from the song Echo by Uruguayan Jorge Drexler and included in the repertoire of this album, I assume that it can be a good start to listen to it. 

Despite what these lines indicate, the Idania Valdés that we can find on this occasion, enjoyable live from the filming of her concert at the Yara cinema theater on March 8, 2017, is her; the woman willing to "get rid" of the labels that frame her in the Buena Vista Social Club, and who dares to interpret bolero, changüí, chachachá, among other genres. Songs by well-known authors of the Cuban repertoire with surprising arrangements; others, more contemporary, and all carefully interpreted by her.

Idania does not deny its belonging to the emblematic group of traditional Cuban music. In fact, much of what he must have learned in those 15 years is perceived in this project, Cubadisco Award 2020-2021 in the category of Audiovisual Show (live concert) of that edition. Idania is Cuban, seasoned with elegance, her own vocal technique and exquisiteness.

I confess that I had already heard songs included in their first album Goodness (Colibrí, 2014) that return in this new production —such as the one that titles the plate and While—, but I really enjoyed listening to the others and then seeing the sober and refined concert on screen, whose audiovisual production was in charge of Eduardo Rodríguez and the artist herself. 

Attention, and this for me is relevant: I know Idania, her work, her way of dialoguing, her desire to transcend for herself and not because "she comes from the breed of the greyhound". I know how important it is for you to find yourself in every gesture, in every movement of yours on stage, in every look, in every tonal shift. Knowing her makes me realize that she must be happy with what she has achieved, and confirms to me —individual tastes aside— that it is necessary to approach her when you want to talk about contemporary Cuban female voices.

Cover of the CD/DVD Idania Valdés: Beyond the social club. Courtesy of the artist.

Cover of the CD/DVD Idania Valdés: Beyond the social club. Courtesy of the artist.

Also, as a bonus track valuable, Idania surrounded herself with excellent musicians: Michel Herrera on sax and in charge of musical direction, Edgar Martínez and Adel González on congas, Jesús Pupo and Geovanis Alcántara on piano, Frank Rubio on bass, Dayron Ortiz on guitar. guitar, César Ochoa on acoustic guitar, Aniel Tamayo and David Suárez on drums, Thommy Lowry and Lázaro Oviedo on trumpets, Eduardo Sandoval on trombone. Some of them are members of their usual group, and that stands out in the musical empathy that is achieved. The others are luxury guests, with whom she was comfortable, at ease, queen.

This is a good album to listen to and if you have the audiovisual at hand, the better, because each interpretation has extra points when you see the real Idania, and not so much the one that can be "retouched" with the classic tools of a recording.

César Portillo de la Luz should be happy and that is how Marta Valdés, Polito Ibáñez, Jorge Drexler, Alain Pérez and his father Gradelio, Descemer Bueno, David Torrens, Amaury Gutiérrez, Ramón Cabrera, or Jesusín Cruz should feel, to see their compositions reborn in this project. That yes, and I return to the song that I mentioned at the beginning, sometimes it is difficult to separate from the version and the original style of a song, but accepting the challenge goes for both parties, that is, also for the public. 

Eliades Ochoa, Amadito Valdés (father of Idania), Barbarito Torres, Haila María Mompié, Leo Garrido, Haydeé Milanés and Alain Pérez accepted her invitation and accompany this performer in songs whose sonority was enriched from these unions. Justly Echo, with arrangements by Germán Velazco, is completely new, and Amadito Valdés shows off his virtuosity, as one of the most renowned percussionists in the country. 

Alain Pérez, more than his voice, places the bass, soft, powerful and glamorous in Teach him to love you of his joint authorship with his father Gradelio, and was cute (although cuteness, what do you say, beauty, is not a pattern to qualify) the complicity created between the two. 

Sublime union with Haydeé Milanés in the interpretation of In us /Goodbye, happiness /Words; and I appreciate the choice of Haila to accompany her in Your voice, because the filling of the two vocal textures was very successful in that theme. The king of the lute, Barbarito Torres, put sandunga on let me go alone  and Eliades Ochoa added more than that, deliciousness, with I fell in love silly, from his repertoire, a theme that I thought would close the concert. The reaffirmation of love with Leo Garrido in my way, by Amaury Gutiérrez, seen and heard several times, here takes on another nuance, because it is the culminating moment of an important opportunity in Idania's career and he was there, and it was felt. 

Special mention, because he deserves it, for Michel Herrera: composer, arranger, sharp producer who assumes the musical direction of the usual group of Idania and of this double project that sets its tone, maturity and success.

The sound of the album ranges from the traditional, the classic of the Cuban song —let's remember that it was included in the Song category of Cubadisco, although there are dance songs— and the most contemporary. At times we travel in time, and we are in the 50s, 60s, (how wonderful) and we return to the present. Rumba yes. Heartbreaking bolero, yes. They are, yes. Chachacha, yes. So the album does not bore, but seduces, and opens the ears to a sound that is not forced because, if something stands out greatly in the interpretations, it is that Idania is "on her own", or what is the same, it is owner of each song It is not the desire to appear versatile that guides the production, but to be and demonstrate it. 

Idania dared, and that makes me happy. I believe that it can dare more, and that is what worries me about this proposal. The selection of the themes was rigorous, I'm sure, the arrangements are exquisite, and the image cannot be cataloged in any other way. But it left me wanting. Eager to see more daring, more ease, more spontaneity, more "winds that disheveled", as someone who talks to me about deep feelings says. 

This was an excellent start to show what exists beyond a last name and an emblematic label that cannot be ignored, but I have a feeling that fears still linger. We all have them, obviously, but in this case I bet on leaving them aside, because I'm sure that Idania Valdés can totally overcome them. At least you can try. 

Listen Idania Valdés: Beyond the social club here.

Ana Maria Dominguez Cruz Ana Maria Dominguez Cruz Journalist, scriptwriter, announcer and presenter. Producer of audiovisuals and musical shows. She loves walking barefoot on the wet floor, surrounding herself with plants and dancing naked. He lacks time for everything, he has plenty of desire. More posts

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