La guapería, according to Zenet

8 minutos / Sigfredo Ariel

14.10.2019 / Reviews

It isn't that they hadn't warned us. It was an afternoon in Barcelona that the poet Alexis Díaz-Pimienta told us as if nothing had happened.: “I have been enrolled in an album by Toni Zenet. An album of boleros and songs ”. Well how good. "He has brought together a lot of Cuban musicians ..." Congratulations, Alexis, give us that as soon as you can, give it. And a year went by at least until it arrived La guapería

From Los mares de Cina We had been following it on YouTube, on Facebook videos, what was going on here or there. We had "put a face" - as they like to say on the peninsula - once it appeared unexpectedly about ten years ago in the midst of the overflowing of so much more or less bland pop, so much prefabricated usual tracing and so much amateur TV show that emulates with well-known songs of celebrities ... in English, in the case of Spain. 

Zenet brought that first album tremendously well thought out, sharp, hopeful, well sung and played in 2008. Awarded as a "revelation artist" it was an announcement, really that voice of his scaled, sometimes sudden; the corrugated expression capable of carrying, however, tenderness. Then two or three more albums arrived, always with lyrics by one Javier Laguna. ¿ Who is this Javier Laguna, author of such texts as good, (Estela, Las causas perdidas, Soñar contigo, Amaneció sin querer, Mil veces prefiero...) made in the image and likeness of this newcomer who was coming back from it is not known what? A great singer is not, but knows how to say his things. With that beautiful, as they say in Cuba. 

How funny, we said, when Zenet appeared a few years ago with Toda una vidaby Farres , that labored tenors, baritones and mezzos in the 40s and wore riding clothes songbooks, cancioneras, bolero singers, singers guapachosos and rumberos in the 50s and 60s, of course, the last century to today. In Spain, Machín popularized it, as much as Cuban repertoire. And how funny we found Zenet a few years ago in Tú no, yo sí, by Matamoros, with Alain Pérez in the second voice ... A little " tie up ", yes, ending in point the bolero-son's sentence end, avoiding that final rounding in the choirs that have the two or three old versions, Matamorinas , with its tempo thrown "backwards", but good. It was "a grace."

A good day, not long ago, arrived La guapería. What a repertoire responsible - we said, when focusing on the back cover of the CD -, what a guapo Zenet . Not in the meaning of the Andalusian word for beautiful and good looking - long ago extended by Spanish lands and by osmosis and trasunto, already here - but by courageous, courageous and hard-fought fight; brave in struggle with the adversary or enemy *, Cuban meaning that is also taken by bully or forgiving. Let's see what brings the little man . 

And that way Pimienta spoke in rhyme, just placing the disc before a timid Guaguancó: "Universal Guapería / woven by the songs, / lyrical evocations,/ musical spell." After that promising portico (and so close to its protagonist), began a Estás equivocada of stigma cabaretero , blizzard profusion, in which the fencer reproachful letter became so low in the table at breakfast time, even when done on a tutti of jazzband . We miss the Rolando Laserie vibrating with Duarte on the beat , and - if we go back to our Pleitocene - René Cabell , still on the beguine , but fed up challenging (in CMQ recording), like the version of Bobby Capó, for the year 42, with budding mambo, for that Estás equivocada It is one of those predestines that conclude (and that concluded in its day, that is, already in the 50s) in the bolero-mambo hybrid, not to mention the great Miguelito Cuní with Arsenio Rodríguez of the year 44, they are male by. Thus we begin to miss, to feel absences in this guapería, because not always (almost never) it is effective to extract a repertoire from its habitat to modernize it or “update it”. The "plant" of the handsome half-century ago is no longer reproducible Demasiado camino nos separa de antes, said Gabriela Mistral 

It is curious that in Es tan difícil, by José Sabre Marroquín and Ignacio Villa, Zenet depends almost entirely on the recording he had as a reference - the only one that we know of - Bola de Nieve in 1960. Difficult, of course, will prove to be detached from such a singular interpretation, cuasi parlando; hard to find another way of “saying” these irregular verses about a melody that seems to be a long way off, when it shows slow crumbled waltz - from which Pepe Rivero on the piano takes full advantage of it - but it was not necessary to reproduce what Bola had already done almost sixty years ago. Imitating the inimitable yields little grain, the truth. Something similar happens with the version of Devuélveme mis besos, which is a well-known song by the Mexican María Grever, recorded by many performers, from Nicolás Urcelay to Olga Guillot, not from the teacger Saber and Bola de Nieve (although he included it in his repertoire also recorded in 1960), a sad mistake in the credits. If we had not heard Bola in "this beautiful page of the Grever", as it was said at the time, the interpretation of Zenet would seem at least singular. 

On the other hand, the changes of lyrics that the singer allows in two well-known Cuban boleros are inexplicable. The first is Ansias locas, by Eusebio Delfín, in which the final line of the verses of Rogelio Sopo Barreto changes, —Eusebio Delfín did not write any of the lyrics of his compositions— credit, which is also omitted in the booklet. Instead of "When I drink my wine I do not ask if the glass / has quenched the thirst of another good drinker", the Malaga interpreter had the illumination of replacing "good drinker" with "bad drinker", as if to underline the misogynistic rascal. In No te empeñes más, by Marta Valdés, in addition to distorting the original melodic line, (which she does throughout the album several times) Zenet apparently experienced the thoughtless desire to amend the flat to the composer, by eliminating the adverb and adding a surplus “ by ”, also in the final line of the letter that says original and correctly:“ Today we can only say goodbye ”. 

When listening La palabra fin, with lyrics by Argentinian Chico Novarro and music by Spanish Mike Ribas (not Rivas, as the credits say) we return to Rolando Laserie, this time in the version that El guapachoso or El guapo de la canción put on his album Fania con Johnny Pacheco of 1982, in which he exclaimed his identifying phrase “From a movie!” That Zenet reproduces, was missing more. Along the way we find the versions of Imágenes, by Frank Domínguez - especially unhappy - and Borrasca, by Fabregat and Molina, who sung Nelson Pinedo for years and years with a tragic tangled air and this time is little less than tasteless. Thus we arrive at Demasiado, bolero signed by Gradelio Pérez, José Taboada and Zenet himself, to be new — the only track on the album that is not a version — if he did not remember too much — not to say inconceivably — a song by Silvio Rodríguez, nothing less, with the same name in addition. The comparison does not favor the first one. Someone could do the charity to warn that to the authors.

La inclusión de efectos de sonido entre número y número raya en lo que en La Habana llamamos “lo cheo”: hay risas femeninas, rumor de mar, gaviotas, truenos, claxons de autos, conversaciones lejanas y otros ruidos ininteligibles… El poeta Díaz-Pimienta cierra con tres décimas más a modo de serpentinas de carnaval sobre un disco con muy buenos músicos, con lindo sonido, con escasas razones para enorgullecerse y no pocos descuidos. Al final extrañamos al Zenet que no intentaba 479/5000 The inclusion of sound effects between number and number stripes in what we call "lo cheo" in Havana: there are female laughs, sea buzz, seagulls, thunder, car horns, distant conversations and other unintelligible noises ... The poet Diaz- Pepper closes with three decima more like carnival streamers on a record with very good musicians, with nice sound, with few reasons to be proud and not a few carelessness. In the end we miss the Zenet who wasn't trying guapear in the Cuban way. For what?


* Rodríguez Herrera, Esteban: Léxico Mayor de Cuba. Editorial Lex, La Habana, 1961. Tomo II, p. 61. 

Sigfredo Ariel

(1962-2020). Autor de veinte libros de poemas, culpable de intrusismo en varias otras disciplinas: artes plásticas, guiones, periodismo. Obsesión: la frágil memoria de la música cubana.

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    J. Laguna


    Pues Javier Laguna soy yo, y no puedo estar más de acuerdo.

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