Alejandro Almenares à la Casa de la Trova, Santiago de Cuba Mars 2014, “World Music Report”, WMR

Alejandro Almenares at Casa de Trova, Santiago de Cuba March 2014

Alejandro Almenares at 76, still with much twinkles in his eyes!

Trova: A labour of Love • ■CD Reviews by Raul da Gama – May 14, 2014

It may have taken almost 1000 years for the troubadour tradition of 12th Century Occitan to reach Cuba, via Spain; there to be substantively transformed and to have its polyphony melded with Afro-Caribbean polyrhythms. However, its influences may have been richer and more complex than that: some have suggested that the origin of the troubadours may date back to Biblical days and to King Solomon and The Song of Songs. Clearly, though there is, as the great Ezra Pound showed, the influence of the Arabs and their influence after the conquest of Spain in the harmonic inventions and in the singing style—in that a body of song of comparable intensity, profanity and eroticism existed in the second half of the 9th Century—something that has continued down the centuries in and the boleros of the trova singers. But more than anything it is the importance of the trova tradition as one of the great roots of the Cuban music tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar. According to one writer, to qualify as a trovador in Cuba, a person should sing songs of his own composition, or of others of the same kind; accompany himself on the guitar; and deal poetically with the song. This definition fits best the singers of boleros, and less well the Afro-Cubans singing funky El Guavabero or even guaguancós and abakuás Chicho Ibáñez. Probably, this kind of life had been going on for some time, but it comes into focus when learning about named individuals who left their marks on Cuban popular music. Trovamusicians have played an important part in the evolution of Cuban popular music. Collectively, they have been prolific as composers, and have provided a start for many later musicians whose career lay in larger groupings. Socially, they reached every community in the country, and have helped to spread Cuban music throughout the world. José “Pepe” Sánchez (1856–1918), is known as the father of the trova style and the creator of the Cuban Bolero. The first, and one of the longest-lived, was Sindo Garay, born Antonio Gumersindo Garay Garcia (1867–1968). He was the most outstanding composer of trova songs, and his best have been sung and recorded many times. But there were others of great importance too. However, it was Sindo Garay, Rosendo Ruiz (1885–1983), Alberto Villalón (1882–1955) and Manuel Corona (1880–1950) who were known as the four greats of the trova, but José “Chicho” Ibáñez (1875–1981) should be regarded as of equally high stature. There are many more important trovadores who continue this rich tradition even until today. Alejandro Almenares and Pedro Luis Ferrer are among this illustrious line of musicians. Both have superb releases in 2014.

This double CD package is one of the finest albums to be released by a trovador in recent memory. The package includes an instrumental as well as a vocal CD. Normally when this is done, the instrumental CD turns out rather as a less listened-to extra. However, in this case both parts of the package are of virtually equal value. The instrumental CD affords the opportunity to listen carefully to the compositions and to the harmonic progressions that inform Mr. Almenares’ work. This is complex and often quite new. The album has another great value: it presents music that is exceptionally rare, being released as if a happy secret is becoming known for the first time. It is true that Casa Trova is simple and its music has not hitherto been heard by many Cubans, let alone in such a vast swathe of North America. It is for this reason as well as for the fact that Mr. Almenares’ journey is wonderfully lyrical and intimate and fragrant that this music is absolutely memorable and impossible to resist. Track List: CD1: No Critiques Al Nene; El Son De Vicentico; Pepillito; Te Vi y Te Contemplé; Con Amor Te Pagaré; Lechero; A Tu Retrato; Mujercita Linda; La Chica De Mi Rosal; La Niña Que Yo Amé; De Lo Que Quiero Saber; Esa Guitarra Que Suena; El Mismo Paso; La Finca De Vila. CD2: No Critiques al Nene; La Finca de Vila; Mujercita Linda; Te Vi y Te Contemplé; El son de Vicentico; A tu Retrato; La Chica de mi Rosal; Esa Guitarra que Suena; Lechero; La Niña Que yo Amé; De Lo Que Quiero Saber; Pepillito; Con Amor te Pagaré. Personnel: Alejandro Almenares: requinto, tres; Gabino Jardines: guitar; René Dominguez: soprano saxophone; Jorge Pujols: flute; Pedro Alarcon: violin; Enrique Diaz: double bass; Alfonso Borges: percussion; Jose Cabrera: chorus; Tony Rondon: lead vocals (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13) chorus; Eva Grinan: vocal (6); Jose Cabrera: vocal (4); Ismael Borges: vocal (2, 9, 11). Label: Tumi Music | Release date: February 2014

The latest review of Alejandro Almenras release Tumi 228 from Midwest Record

cover of CD Casa de Trova Alejandro Almenares

cover of CD Casa de Trova Alejandro Almenares

Album Review

It’s like we say, we don’t venerate them because they’re old, we venerate them because they rock. Almenares is a Cuban national treasure that’s been at it for over 50 years. He’s been in so many bands he can’t remember them all, but he’s had his share of hits and mainstay compositions to make him known in Latin music circles as a top shelf cat. Now 76 and pretty much giving us his first taste of his work, this cat is the sound of a Cuba that’s slipping away but preserved here in such grand style you’ll be sorry you didn’t discover him before. Far from being Ricky Ricardo music, this has an unvarnished ethnic edge that any gringo can relate to because it’s about the music first and foremost. Absolute killer stuff jazz and world beat ears will utterly flip for. And you get two discs worth of this treat here. Check it out.

Irresistible Bomba




Hijos de Agüeybaná - Agua del Sol

Hijos de Agüeybaná – Agua del Sol

Hijos de Agüeybaná

Agua del Sol (Tumi Music, 2012)

Bomba, a lively Afro-Puerto Rican musical genre is the focus of the album Agua del Sol by Hijos de Agüeybaná. The outstanding group presents a wide range of bomba forms, from the very traditional to salsa, jazz and electronic explorations. The album opens with ambient an electronic music and drums piece tiled Saludo al sol (greeting to the sun). From there, Hijos de Agüeybaná quickly shift to acoustic bomba, using barrel drums and the characteristic call and response vocals.

Although salsa contains a high percentage of Afro-Cuban rhythms, Hijos de Agüeybaná demonstrate how bomba was also incorporated into salsa. The title cut ‘Agua del sol’ shows us this exciting form of modern bomba by adding piano and brass. The last piece on the album showcases a great jazz arrangement of ‘Te Invito.’

Drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and researcher Ángel Luis Reyes grew up in New York City and discovered bomba at a photo shoot as a young man. “I thought it was African music. I was stunned to hear it was from my island, from my home,” he recollects. Ángel Luis returned to Puerto Rico and interviewed a lot of elder musicians and dancers to learn more about bomba. “Ask any elder and they will tell you: Bomba is respect. You have to have respect throughout, for the drums, for your partners,” Ángel Luis explains.

What’s really exciting about Hijos de Agüeybaná is that most of the songs are original compositions by Otoqui Reyes Pizarro. This means that fresh new songs are being added to the bomba music pool.

“Bomba is your heart expressing itself freely,” adds Ángel Luis. “It’s the letting go. Letting it flow freely and reach out to the world.”

Agua del Sol is an impressive album, full of irresistible rhythms that celebrate the African roots of bomba.

Buy Agua del Sol in North America

Buy Agua del Sol in Europe


Salsa Dance

Couple dancing in Malecon Havana, Cuba

Salsa is a word meaning “sauce”, used by Cuban musicians in the sense of “spice”; the term began to be used in the early ’70s to describe New York City’s hot and up-tempo Latin music. A classic Cuban son of the early ’30s by Ignacio Piñeiro was called “Echale Salsita” (Put A Little Sauce In It!). The term was used in song and album titles, for example, “Salsa y Bembé” (from Joe Cuba Sextet’s LP Steppin’ Out ’62 on Seeco), Pupi Legarreta’s 1962 debut LP Salsa Nova (New Spice) on Tico and Charlie Palmieri’s LP Salsa Na’ Ma’, Vol. 3 ’63 on Alegre, both made in NYC, and a 1966 album by Venezuelan band Federico y su Combo Latino was called Llegó La Salsa (Salsa Has Arrived) on Palacio. The radio showLa Hora del Sabor, la Salsa y el Bembé launched in Venezuela in 1966 is cited as popularising “salsa” as a generic label. Izzy Sanabria, MC, designer, editor / publisher of Latin NY magazine (now defunct) and host of the ’73 TV show Salsa, is also identified with its origin. By 1975 the term was firmly established as the title of the Fania film Salsa, the same year a Grammy category for Best Latin Recording and Latin NY music awards were introduced. Salsa is mainly derived from Cuban music, which contributed traditional Latin percussion (i.e. timbales, conga, bongo), types of ensemble (conjuntos of trumpets and percussion, charangas with flute and violins, brass- and sax-led big bands), clave (the basic rhythmic pattern) and numerous dance forms: son, son montuno, rumba, guaguancó, mambo, cha cha chá, bolero, guajira, guaracha. Salsa also embraces an international range of musics including Puerto Rican bomba and plena, etc; also fusion experiments with rock, jazz, soul, etc. At the time the term was adopted, the music had returned to its roots, the típico (typical) Cuban conjunto sound, after the Latin / R&B fusion of the late ’60s called boogaloo; the music had always lacked a suitable tag and “salsa” assisted marketing. By the mid-’90s salsa was being fused with hip-hop and other styles, a prime example being the slick and swinging salsa / hip-hop / rap / raga / R&B synthesis DLG (Dark Latin Groove). In the 2000s reggaetón was brought into the mix to create salsatón. - John Child

Hot Sauce or Salsa where the word Salsa comes from

The hot Salsa”sauce” where the association of hot and sexy Salsa Music comes from

Alejandro Enis Almenares The last legend troubadour of Santiago de Cuba


Alejandro Enis Almenares

Alejandro Enis Almenares, outside his house in Santiago de Cuba

It was late October and we had driven some 14 hours from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. Our aim was to meet up one of the remaining legend in the history of Cuban Music. As we sat down in the hot and tropical atmosphere of Casa de Trova, I occupied a back seat not to be seen as It may give him a sudden surprise which is not very nice if you are in the middle of the songs. When he finished we walked towards him and gave him a hug . Later we shared some food together and during the following two days we sat next to him listening to his guitar and his tunes. It was not easy as each song was a gem and I had to choose only 12 for a new recording with him. A week later there we were in the Studio listening to the first recording of a legend who the world will remember as the last of the Cuban Troubadours!  Mo Fini Spring 2013, Bath, UK

We hope you will hear the music during the summer of 2013.

Alejandro Enis Almenares and Mo Fini Stdudio in Cuba

MO Fini with Alejandro Enis Almenares and the team from the studio in Siboney, Santiago, October 2012

Later on that day as we sat for a beer, my colleague Carlos Cabrera  took some notes of un informal conversation we had with  Alejandro Almenares that you could read below

-When he was born and who were his parents?

“I was born on May 24, 1937, in the city of Santiago de Cuba in a humble home and my parents were called and Julia Almenares Angel Sanchez. 76 years ago in this life and I am now sharing with you criteria.”

-What happened from birth until 1959 and after that date to the present?

“As a child-like everything else, playing in the streets of this beautiful city, I went to public school until the age of 10 I started to study at the music school at age 14 No.5 had to quit school to devote to work and I started playing music professionally, it was for 1951. After the triumph of the revolution music kept playing until today.”

-With whom did you touch?

“Throughout my life I have played music with several bands in the music school I played with a group called “Los Taínos”, my specialty is guitar trio cousin, I’ve played all, my father inherited troubadour music, I’ve climbed many mountains and I’ve played with a lot of people, groups, duets and trios. In 1960 the trio integrates and fuses “East” for 14 years touches throughout Cuba, with all groups of Santiago’ve played, all the pioneers of “La Casa de la Trova” have touched me.”

-What is your relationship to “La Casa de la Trova?

“My father founded “La Casa de la Trova” alongside Virgil Palay, of course I was there I also founder, in this place I grew up listening to and playing music troubadour and Sonera of Cuba until today, I think I’m the last founders of the troubadours living …..

Together with my dad I am the founder of “La Casa de la Trova”.”

-When you play in “La Casa de la Trova”?

“I play every day, but the job Wednesday with a septet, my father founded the “Rounds Lyrics” and I keep them all Saturday, if you want to find me, this is my home I’m always ….”

-As a composer?

“In 1958 I fell in love with my wife, I saw this mulata so beautiful and inspired me and so did every day until the muse still with me. And so did “Mueve la cintura mulata”that was my first song and recorded my first song that I recorded with the ” Quinteto Oriente”, this theme became very popular that he was elected for a film played by Antonio Bandera ” Pecado Original””,  which later  was also sung by Omara Portuondo.”

-Can you tell me your family?

” Besides I love my wife, I have three children that I am very proud of them, two females and a male, they will tell you, not a musician like his grandfather or like me, the 2 females one is an architect and the other daughter is the youngest a degree in mathematics, the man is a tailor, actor, promoter of artists, I can say with great joy that I am proud of the family …..”

Interview with musician Alejandro Enis Almenares by Carlos Cabrera

City of Santiago de Cuba, October  2012.

Jovenes Clasicos del Son ” The Young Son Rebels” New York Times

  1. Palama the director of Jovenes Clasicos del Son

    The Jovenes Clasicos del Son join Papa Noel for a great Rumba night in Bath Festival, UK

    Jovenes Clasicos del Son

From Cuba

Founded in 1994 the band incorporates a traditional septet instrumental format: acoustic bass, tres, guitar, trumpet, congas, bongos and an outstanding singer with vocal qualities that permit endless possibilities. They have been hailed as the new force in Cuban music, eclectically mixing elements of highly charged son, salsa and other Latin rhythms and influenced by traditional and contemporary music from around the world. Jovenes Clasicos del son have managed to create an unmistakable and unique sound. A sound they can call their own; an original sound. They were brought together by the visionary Ernesto Reyes Proenza, better known as ‘Palma’. He is their charismatic director who carefully sought out not only the most outstanding young musicians in Cuba but also those with the capabilities, passion and conviction to develop a new Cuban sound.The vision and objective adopted by all the band members in many ways have mad them stand out from the current mainstreaming of Cuban music. ‘Hard Hands Lolo’, their conga player explains: “We don’t break the formula of traditional music but we do add a modern touch to it. We are seven young men looking through the wide open door of Cuban music and we want to make history without modern technology, without a big horn section, without tacky or commercial lyrics” Carlos interupts: “It is conscious music. It has pedigree. It comes from lots of roots. We have managed to make new son and Jovenes Clasicos Del Son for me represents the side of every musician’s heart where one does what one wants – we have freedom.”Palma, their director, explains the musical structure: “We are really into satire but we chose the tracks we are going to include in our repertoire very carefully. We play songs about our contemporary situation. Fruta Bomba has a strong issues based concept – issues from Cuban life – fun issues but with a twist. We love double-entendres, Nueva Trova and slang. But clean slang. We also love tp ‘hacer descarga’ or jam. I go to see lots of jazz and theatre productions. I learn a lot from them and this is apparent in the album.” Sergio continues: “We have included some very varied pieces in Fruta Bomba; a homage to the old style son revival, some nueva trova also and above all lots of carribean music. That’s essentially what we play: Carribean music. We have a track dedicated to the Paw Paw fruit – a very exotic fruit from the Americas. The lyrics are full of play-on-words, but don’t get me wrong, we don’t make intellectual music. We make music that can be well but with’sabor’ and meaning.”After hearing them one begins to understand the profound appreciation felt by the band towards this deeply rooted musical heritage: “Well Chico, it’s Cubania – that’s it. It’s Cuba. Without son Cuba would be Santo Domingo or any other tropical island. I don’t call it el son or’ the son’, I call it ‘they son’. A great writer and friend of mine, Danilo Orozco explained this to me. Son is mixed with everything. Fidel’s speeches: they’re son, Cuban literature: that’s son, Nicolas Guillen’s clave: that’s son. The sam form of the son is in everything. Notice how a Cuban tells you a joke, at the end they repeat the puchline three times. The Cuban is very rhetorical, when they speak they return to their point and keeps going back and going back. When Fidel starts a discussion and has his own point of view on the subject, he explains it and goes back and back and back again and in the end he explains it to you all over again. This is son. It’s like son music. It is in the subtleties of form.”Yet the ‘young rebels of son’ defend the musical legacy laid down by the likes of Beny More and Arsenio Rodriguez with a simple statement: “El son es lo mas sublime para el alma divertir, se deberia de morir quien por bueno no lo estime” – “Son is the most sublime thing, a man should die should he not care about it.”Press Quotes:”Young son rebels” – Straight No Chaser”Excellent dans le son traditionel, le septette elargit cependant son repertiore” – Liberation, France”Interpretan la musica cubana con honor a la verdad” – Gramma, CubaShort biography:Jóvenes Clasicos del Son are known as Cuba’s magnificent seven. Awarded the prize of Best Cuban Group of 1997 by the Cuban government they have had a string of hits in Cuba. They have been recognised by the international press as the best group from a new generation of young Cuban musicians and have collaborated in the past with Grammy Award winning Compay Segundo as well as with jazz supremo Winton Marsalis. Individually they have worked with members of another award winning band, Vocal Sampling, as well as working with Peter Gabriel among others.Led by the charismatic director and bass player Palma, formerly with Candido Fabre and incorporating two of the most sought after musicians, the singer Nene and the trumpet player Raudel, this traditional seven piece fully acoustic band defy the conventional format and take son to powerful and exciting new heights. Mixing Cuban son with the deepest elements of Cuban music together with soul, jazz, rap and funk this dynamic group is fast .

Jovenes Clasiocs del son has recorded three Cds with Tumi Music.

David Alvarez ” Clandestino” review by Juan Sebastian Rojas, USA

David alvarez one of the legendary Trovador of Cuba

Singer/song writer David Alavrez

Clandestino is the latest production from famous Cuban troubadour Daniel Álvarez, former leader of the band Juego de Manos. Released by Tumi Music as a 16-track CD, this album is a clear expression of the contemporary development of one of Cuba’s most important and influential musical genres: trova. And trova runs unequivocally through Álvarez’s veins, for his native city of Manzanillo has held a very active trova cubana scene since the mid-20th century. His compositions reflect this tradition, in which peasant songs integrate socially critical and romantic lyrics with ballad-style and Cuban son accompaniments, sometimes sounding closer to the music of Spain than that of the Caribbean Islands.

Clandestino is also notable for the participation of saxophonist Alfred Thompson (Irakere) and tres master Pancho Amat, who collaborate with Álvarez in creating that magical and dramatic atmosphere that is characteristic of contemporary trova. The influence of Mediterranean sonorities is also very clear, featuring Roldán Carballoso (Buena Vista Social Club), whose presence is predominant in “La tarde” (“The afternoon”), where guitar, violin and flamenco-inspired chants intertwine to make this Cuban song a soulful product of the Spanish and African diasporas of the Caribbean. The opening track, “A mi me gusta compay” (“I like it, buddy”), is a more straightforward trova rhythm, with long verses accompanied by tres, guitar, bongos, and timbales, which then break into a montuno, or a sung call and response chorus section, which is so characteristic of Cuban music.

Excerpts of the whole album can be heard at Tumi Music’s website:

Not only is this album finely produced, with a thick recording sound and crew of world class musicians, but also finely crafted music-wise, where the singer songwriter’s skills are demonstrated by the creation of a unified musical and lyrical concept of romanticism. Álvarez’s voice makes one think of legendary Cuban troubadour Pablo Milanés, but in a kind of contemporary version: an updated Cubantrovador, renovating one of Cuba’s most influential popular musics.

Reviewed by Juan Sebastian Rojas

Hijos de Agüeybaná, “Agua del Sol”

Agua del Sol is the first release of their CD

The “Bomba” Puerto Rican group Hijos de Agüeybaná

Bomba was born when a diverse group of Africans found themselves forced to work the sugar plantations of Puerto Rico. From different places, speaking different languages, they found a common means of expression and release in drumming, dancing, and singing together. This new musical lingua franca became bomba. It remained popular after Emancipation, when traveling groups would carry the big barrel drum, smaller secondary drum, and trunks with percussion and costumes from place to place, holding all-night, rum-fueled sessions on beaches or in yards.

Its origins in Africa and in the great movement of Africans throughout the Caribbean tie bomba to other Afro-Latin traditions from Haiti to Cuba, sharing beats, instrumentation, and even terminology. But in Puerto Rico, bomba developed a wonderful local texture and character, and continues to be a moving and meaningful response to life on the island.

Two of Hijos de Agüeybaná’s members discovered its power and relevance and have dug into its past. Drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and researcher Ángel Luis was raised in New York City in a musical family who played in a band together. Yet he first heard bomba at a photo shoot as a young man. He was immediately blown away.

”I thought it was African music. I was stunned to hear it was from my island, from my home,” he recalls. He soon found himself returning to Puerto Rico, winning over sometimes reticent bomba elders, interviewing dozens upon dozens of veteran musicians and dancers to learn more about how, when, and why the music was performed.

His son, Otoqui, grew up dancing bomba from the very start; his mother danced while pregnant with him. Gently introduced to the tradition and mentored by his father, Otoqui turned away from bomba as a teen and got into break dance. “I realized hip hop wasn’t my music, that break dancing wasn’t my culture,” Otoqui recalls. “I thought about it, and decided I wanted to change people’s minds. I wanted to teach my friends that they needed to learn our music.”

Though incorporating other Latin and international contemporary elements into their music and bringing a wide sonic palette to its pulse and feel, the Reyes and the other performers in Hijos de Agüeybaná have an uncanny ability to transmit the rootsy beauty, and the gracious culture of bomba. At the core is the evolving interaction between drum and movement, a dialogue that the group captured on the album.

”To find that feeling, sometimes you bring the dancers to the studio. Sometimes you imagine the dancer in your mind,” Otoqui says. “Sometimes you just bring your feeling into the drum. The drum itself speaks; it talks to people.”

The inspiring gesture and potential of dance pervades the songs. Otoqui wrote “Te Invito” as a lovely, heartfelt explanation of bomba’s creative pleasures to his hesitant sweetheart, a visual artist. He urges her to feel the dance floor is a canvas and her feet are brushes (she was eventually won over and now dances bomba). “Ohami” was sparked by a friend’s evocative dancing, movements that sent Otoqui from behind his drum dashing for his notebook to jot the images down. “Agua del Sol” celebrates the role of homebrewed rum in bomba celebrations, how it warms the heart and moves shy participants from the sidelines to the dance floor.

But bomba is about more than good times; it’s about dignity. “Ask any elder and they will tell you: Bomba is respect. You have to have respect throughout, for the drums, for your partners,” Ángel Luis notes. Yet this respect doesn’t stymie creativity; it helps channel it, finding new ways to make old beats dance and sing.

”Bomba is your heart expressing itself freely,” Ángel Luis smiles. “It’s the letting go. Letting it flow freely and reach out to the world.”

About Hijos de Agueybana

The group Hijos de Agueybana directed by Otoqui Reyes consists of eight artists, all committed to preserving their Afro-Caribbean roots. The group has over ten years experience both of performing and offering workshops and courses on the historical and cultural significance of the genre of bomba. They have presented their dance and music to both national and international audiences across the Americas. In the Caribbean the African drum is central to cultural identity creating harmony, solidarity and leadership in both the music itself and the musicians who perform it, helping maintain social structure in communities and villages all over the Island.

In this, their first musical production, Otoqui Reyes, in collaboration with other great artists Cristi Mangual, Andy Montañez and Tony mapeyé creates a flavour unique to Puerto Rico. The drum or tambor Barril-Primo is played by Ángel Luis Reyes and Otoqui Reyes, reveling in its traditional rhythm whilst also integrating with other popular rhythms such as salsa and jazz, and electronic instrumentation such as indigenous-environmental “Lounge”. This creative collaboration is achieved by quality musicians such as: Luis Rosa, Tony Gonzalez and Ricky Torres, committed to creating art and music out of their rich culture. Complementary to the main drums come the second smaller ones which are played by Ramon Vazquez and Papo Aguilú together Jose Alicea, and Maraca. The harmony produced in several layers of drumming is accompanied by the joyful voices of Naomi Vasquez, Minerva Rosa and Quique Hernández.

Everything builds together in this production, like a big street party full of dance, culture and tradition – a great and tasty celebration of life!

David Alvarez and his New Trova dream

David Alvarez is from the old school of TRova

David Alvarez his guitar and his seductive voice is his charm.

After 20 years of playing with his band “Juego de Manos”, David now realizes the dream of his life and records his solo “Trova” album called “Clan Destino” Tumi 182. His compositions go back some ten years ego when I “Mo Fini” was sitting in Malecon in Havana and during the conversation I begged him to do a solo album of his Trova. Though he accepted there and then , then it took some ten years to realize his dream. Sadly just when we were half way through recording his one year old daughter fell ill with cancer of eye. After a suffering two years and the daughter losing the eye we went back to the studio to finish the album. We are all grateful for his work and prey for the quick recovery of his daughter.

Charming Alvarez

David Alvarez’s charm has gained him millions of friends and admirers all around ten world

David is well known international artist and many of you have seen him during his tours in UK and Europe particularly in Spain.
When we released his last album ,it quickly got to the top of the Songlines Music Magazine when Sue Steward reviewed the album “son Demasiado” Tumi 114.
His new album is delight to the ears and a cocktail of love and poems. Almost half finished I sent the album for review to one of my close friends and together with Sue one of the greatest Latin Critic of all times in the UK World Music Scene and Jan wrote
“David Álvarez offers a cache of the bold, confessional songs of a modern troubadour For this “dream finally realised” he brings together songs composed trova style in homage to his birthplace of Manzanillo, the region of Cuba with the strongest trova tradition, his tierra where his roots go deep. Versed in poetry these uncensored stories of the joys and trammels of love add laúd and Cuban tres guitar, to place their Caribbean core within a serenading Mediterranean sensibility, creating a modern renaissance ambience. Romance and love do not come easy, yet life remains joyful – was it not ever so…!”

David Alvarez visiting in Spain

David Alvarez with Pedro , Paco Y pepe in Capileria , Alpujarras, Spain

I have known and recorded David now almost 20 years and yet to meet a singer/song writer with lyrics as sweet as his.

A man and an acoustic guitar. A Cuban man from the beautiful city of Manzanillo. A man offering a set of bold, confessional songs, versed in poetry, uncensored stories of the joys and trammels of love. It can only mean one thing: songs of a trovador, the modern equivalent of the early medieval troubadour. David Alvarez is known for his swinging dance music yet above all he holds fast to the task of the trovador to serenade love and life in all its vicissitudes. Even his custom of wearing a scarf tied gypsy style around his head evokes this iconoclastic spirit.
Most of the material here was composed trova style by David over quite a long period, between 1989 and the present. To bring all these songs together in one album is for David, “a dream finally realised”. As a musician born in Manzanillo (in 1972), the region of Cuba with the strongest trova tradition and where trova still flourishes, it has always been David’s intention to create a disc in homage to his tierra, his birthplace, where his roots go deep in the earth. Manzanillo is also a stronghold of Cuban son, a genre of music David responds to instinctively, underlined by his studying music in its heartland in Santiago de Cuba where he attended the Conservatoire before graduating and moving to Havana.
By 1989 David was working with iconoclast Pedro Luís Ferrer, involved at the periphery of the Nueva Trova movement while forging his own pathway. His son-canción Jugando de Manos (Conjuring) remains the leit-motif of his work. Its’ message – to keep faith with the exhilaration of the play of life, until death comes, sums up Alvarez’ core philosophy. Written in 1993 its’ shortened title, Juego de Manos, gave its name to the group he founded then, an inspiration in a period when Cuba literally went through dark times as the country re-invented itself following the end of dependence on the Soviet Union. David was part of this re-imagining, his song calling for a defence of core values as life continues to turn, for living life to the full is the way to discover ‘paradise on earth’.
Juego de Manos immediately set a new benchmark: buzzing with vitality they opened up Cuban Trova, Son, Guaracha and Guajira traditions by infusing them with influences from the neighbouring Caribbean islands and Central America. They gave Cuban music new impetus by adding in references to música tropical embracing Bachata, Merengue, Cumbia. In their own distinctive way they offered tribute to Dominican Republic’s Juan Luís Guerra and Colombia’s Carlos Vives with their own thrilling new sound. Following their first disc Rimasones (Rhyming Sones), Alvarez with Juego de Manos signed to Mo Fini’s Tumi Music to release first Mundo Loco (Crazy World) and then Son Demasiado (Too Much Son), which won the special critics prize at Cuba’s prestigious annual Adolfo Guzmán competition.
With this new disc Alvarez locates that Caribbean feel within a broader Mediterranean sensibility, focusing on a string sound adding laúd and Cuban tres guitar to acoustic guitars. This gives the dazzling selection of songs composed over a long period an Italianate, at times almost renaissance string ensemble feel. This gives deep dimension to songs that map emotional life from the perspective of someone grooved into romantic love yet at times finding neither love nor those involved constant.

The sequence of songs works as a narrative of troubled times for lovers. The title track Como la Mariposa (Like a Butterfly), with its glorious serenading melody played over gentle percussion, sees David’s voice soar out from a choral weave to liken the history of love to something exquisite yet fragile, “so happy, beautiful, innocent like a butterfly fluttering from one place to another, yet giving the impression that in one moment you might suddenly disappear from sight.”
Despertar (Awaken) composed in the difficult 1990s, with its fluent flute lead, marries melancholy with hope and yearning, telling about life at, “one of those moments when the world around you seems to lose meaning, when the economic crisis of the Special Period, a crisis that impacted on ethics and aesthetics, meant hard times for dreamers”.
The intimate guitar opening to Desquite (Repayment) sets the scene for a plea to be understood when all about love seems in flux. Its’ arrangement sets sweet chorus and then clarinet as partners to the metal of Alvarez’ voice as he tells a story of the struggle to share pleasure and pain, to find something to hold onto when one has taken the wrong path.
Desventura (Misadventure) has tantalising guitar references evoking Andean Charango sounds reminiscent of the Peruvian highlands fused with the Mediterranean. It sets the scene for a song mapping times when, “who told me about love? Ay, If I was only certain”, when solitude and nostalgia seem preferable to love itself. Then the cool piano of Distancia (Distance), with its flashes of trumpet serenades the “woman of honey” separated by emotional and physical distance.
With its dramatic filmic opening El Alma (The Soul) a song of trespassing love, tells of fears of losing the soul – “tomorrow I don’t know if I will know how to sing you this song if I am missing those feelings”: just hear that flamenco style plea at the suspenseful end, a brooding cry to ‘return me my soul’.
Ella es Así (She’s Like That) captures the image of a ‘dangerous’ woman who, “deserves a song – in homage and complaint”.
The jaunty Espejismo (Mirrors) with its beautiful flute lines, was composed by Alvarez for his wife Yilene. He uses his trademark nightingale tremelo to tell of finally leaving illusions aside. Its’ glorious chorus seals, “magic inside my songs again”,
The plucked guitar and Italianate serenading laúd accompaniment for La Tarde (The Evening) evokes the wistfulness of twilight, a magical time, sacred for when the composing muse appears.
Lluvia (Rain), a setting of a poem by Omar Estrada, patterns a Mediterranean feel for when elusive dreams manifest themselves in disquieting emotions conjured up by the falling rain. Mujer (Woman) with its opening, “I’m going to love you woman although not forever” is written for the mother of Alvarez’ eldest daughter, a “fabulous woman and excellent friend”. Musa del Río (River Muse), a title with Afro-Cuban orisha deity echoes, diverts us into a childlike world of fantasy and fable, searching for music’s wellspring. Trovador (Troubadour) tells a deceptively simple tale, about not being judged by appearances. It marks a moment in 1995 when Alvarez found himself singing in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, with his accompanying musicians where they were almost denied their place to perform. Sanity prevailed as this song bears witness! Finally Y no sé qué pasa (I Don’t Know What Happened) is David’s shout to life itself: for the times one can feel alone when one considers that one has given everything one has to offer yet not received what one hoped.
Recorded in half a dozen studios including that of Manolito Simonet as well as his own home-studio, we have 15 songs that map emotions, hopes and dreams. It’s a bold narrative of having almost lost love through mis-adventure, and then the blessing of having it restored. Ay mi amor!
His new CD “Clan Destino” due to be released internationally in February 2012.

Domingo Candelario début album”Soho”

The cover of Domingo Candelario début album “Soho”

Singer/song writer Domingo Candelario was born in the heart of La Havana, Cuba. As a child he was greatly influenced and inspired by the Brazilian music that his parents listened to. He went on to develop his own unique style within the “Nueva Trova” movement which began in the late ‘60s and has its roots in traditional Cuban folk music, incorporating progressive and often politicized lyrics.

He toured Cuba and much of Europe over a period of 3 years as guitarist and singer with Yusa, another Cuban singer/song writer from a similar background. They performed as a duo, creating waves among the small corner bars and neighbourhood clubs where they performed.

In 1997 Domingo took part in the Cuban experience paleis des sports Paris Porte de Versailles, alongside other notable artists such as Mister Acorde guitarist, Vocal group Catharsis, The Eduardo Ribero dance company, The Narciso medina dance company and singer songwriter Yusimil Lopez.

In 1998 as singer/songwriter and theatre director he participated in a major celebration of Cuban culture in Portugal alongside Amaury Perez Vidal, singer/songwriter; Octavio Cortazar, filmmaker; Migel Barnez, writer and investigator and director of the association, Fernando Ortiz.

In 1999 he composed music for the film Cuban love by the American director Joshua Bee Alafia.

Together with the Thabani band he toured the UK and collaborated with many diverse musicians including Yusa, Mister Acorde, Jose luis Estrada and Naomi Thabani director of Thabani band.
Having finished a media and arts degree from the University of London in 2010 he continues to play in London in venues such as Ronnie Scotts, Jazz Cafe and Momo amongst others.