Sunday, January 08, 2012

El Goyo: Ibae

Some bad news to start the year. Our friend and teacher Gregório Hernández, "El Goyo" passed away today. He was 75. Apparently he had a series of strokes and operations and never recovered. What is there to say? He was one of the greats. So knowledgeable and generous. He will be missed all over the world.

Here is a playlist of videos in which El Goyo appears:

I'm also re-posting a profile of Goyo first published here in 2006.

¡Felíz Cumpleaños! to El Goyo, born Nov 17, 1936.

A founding member and instructor with Conjunto Folklórico Nacional for 25 years, a folklorist, professor, stage manager, percussionist, composer, and actor, El Goyo is probably best known as a singer, with such classic performances as "Mayeya" on Rapsodia Rumbera, and "La Jerigonza" on Tata Güines' Aniversário solidifying his legend. He has also worked with jazz saxophonist and flautist Jane Bunnet, most notably on her Chamalongo CD and her Cuban Odyssey DVD. But El Goyo has much more in the works...

El Goyo was born in Pinar del Rio, but soon the family moved to the impoverished Havana neighborhood of Las Yaguas. Curiously, his birthday also marks his aniversary as a public performer, in a way.

In the early 40's Gregorio's father, Isidoro, went into business for himself as a "botellero," rising early each morning, going through the streets of Havana with a cart, "pregonando" and buying empty bottles from residents to resell at bottle collection companies.

One morning as Isidoro was preparing for the day's work, Goyo made a request that surprised him. As María del Carmen Mestas tells it in her book "Pasión de Rumbero" (which is the source for much of the info in this article):

"Papá, today is my birthday and for my present I want you to take me with you to pregonar."

"al poco rato ya andaba el chiquillo de siete años lanzando al aire sus pregones entre la admiración de los que disfrutaban aquella voz melodiosa."

("soon the 7 year-old was pregonando to the admiration of those who enjoyed that melodious voice.")
Later the family moved to El Moro, where Goyo really developed an interest in rumba, first as a dancer, then later playing palitos and tres-dos, and finally singing.

It was an opportune moment for a budding rumbero. The advent of the victrola, radio and televisión gave rumba, formerly hidden in the barrios, much more visibility, and new groups "exploded" onto the scene:

"Te digo que fue toda una explosión: nacieron grupos como Alejo y sus muchachos, Los Chicos Buenos, Las Estrellas Amalianas, Los Principales, Rumboleros, Los Parraqueños, y Los Tercios Modernos, hasta llegar posteriormente a ese cuarteto magnífico que forman Los Papines."

El Goyo formed his first duo with Carlos Águila, then later worked with Daniel Sánchez, Jesús Estrella Gutierrea, Fico Fabelo and with Juan de Dios Ramos (both in CFN and later in El Sicamarié, Mambo Chambo and Los Principales.)

A renowned singer of Abakuá, El Goyo became curious about the secret male society with Calabar roots as a result of hearing the many Abakuá references in rumba:

El mundo del Abakuá está muy vinculado al de los rumberos y, especialmente, al de los cultivadores del yambú y el guaguancó; por eso, desde que me inicié en la rumba sentí interés por esa sociedad.

Later he became an Abakuá himself (his "plaza" is Moruá Iyuansá Uriabón) and through diligent study has become an expert in its songs and practices. "Lo que sí sé hacer es hacer al íreme salir del cuarto fambá," he says. ("One thing I know how to do is make the íreme come out of the fambá room.") His mastery of Abakuá song is evident in his work on the Antología de la Música Afrocubana vol. X, a long out-of-print LP collection recently reissued on CD.

Today El Goyo is as busy as ever. In 2000 he gathered the greats of the genre in the studio to tell the history of rumba from the bandos de calle and the coros de clave through guarapachagueo and rumba-rap in the CD "La Rumba es Cubana" (Abdala UN-CD6004).

As for future projects, besides attending
conferences in the Festival Guanana 2006 in Cienfuegos, and at the ¨Festival La Conga y La Rumba, en Bejucal, El Goyo has plans for a DVD which he is going to call "De las Raíces a las Síntesis" ("From the roots to the synthesis") about his investigations into the interaction between the Spanish and African roots in the Cuban musical synthesis, especially the contributions of rumba to son.

He also has 3 CDs planned, for which he says he needs "apoyo material." They are "Goyo y sus Amigos," "Homenaje al Tío Tom," and a third as-yet-untitled disc which will explore how rumberos have sung about national and international political events.

Thanks Goyo for sharing your talent and your knowledge with us, and may you spend many more birthdays pregonando to the world the wonders of cuban music.

Gracias Goyo por compartir su talento y su gran conocimiento con nosotros, y que pases muchos más cumpleaños pregonando al mundo las glorias de la música cubana.

For a complete overview of El Goyo's career, download his Curriculum Vitae.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Rumba en Atarés - 2008

I've had this footage for a few years now, I've put some of it up, but there was a lot left. I always thought I would find something to do with it, but never have. So up it all goes, to youtube.

I think it's 1 and 1/2 hours of some of the finest rumba you'll ever see.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A discography of Guaguancó Matancero (and more rarities)

Vocalists of "Guaguancó Matancero": Esteban Lantri "Saldiguera," Hortensio Alfonso "Virulilla," Juan Mesa "Juan Bosco"

Photo credit: Vanessa Lindberg

UPDATE 1: Thanks to collector Didier Ferrand we have been able to identify labels and numbers for 5 more songs, plus we learned of one more we were unaware of: "En Opuestas Regiones."
UPDATE 2: Thanks to collector Matt Dillon we've identified 2 more songs.
UPDATE 3: Thanks to Mexico-based collector and DJ Brendan Flannery we've identified 2 more songs, and solved the "Manolo Ortega" mystery.
UPDATE 4: Thanks to collector Alex Gonzalez of we became aware of Rosy 45-018 Yamurí/Xiomara. The recordings are identical to FMR-018. This is the first I am aware of any overlap of recordings between labels.
UPDATE 5: Thanks to collector Emiliano Echeverria we have more info on Mercedita Valdés "Ya me cansé/Miénteme" Puchito 45.

This past spring, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas finished their first tour of the US in 9 years. The story of their origins is well-known: they started in 1952, spontaneously rumbeando with spoons, tables and bottles at the El Gallo bar, on the corner of Matanzas and Daoiz streets in Matanzas.

After the surprising success of "El Vive Bien," by Alberto Zayas' group, released by Panart in 1955, Jesús Gorís sought them out to record for his label Puchito. They recorded "Los Beodos" and "Los Muñequitos." The story goes that the latter song became such a big hit that audiences began shouting it out at their live shows, "Los muñequitos, Los muñequitos!" so they changed their name to Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.

The original members of "Guaguancó Matancero":
Standing (L to R): Florencio Calle "Catalino"; Gregorio Díaz "Goyito";
Esteban Vega Bacallao "Chachá"; Pablo Mesa "Papi"; Ángel Pellado "Pelladito"
Seated (L to R): Hortencio Alfonso "Virulilla"; Esteban Lantri "Saldiguera"; Juan Bosco Mesa

Discography of Guaguancó Matancero.

Most of us probably first heard the recordings of Guaguancó Matancero either on one of several vinyl versions of two LP records, "Guaguancó" (Puchito MLP565) and "Guaguancó Vol. 2" (Antilla MLP595), or on CD reissues of those. These LPs are both compilations of previously released 45s or 78s, and shared with other groups.

Guaguancó(Puchito MLP565)

As Mark Sanders has noted, the original pressing of "Guaguancó" was probably Puchito SP 103, released with a slightly different cover...

(Puchito SP103)

...and with credits properly given to the two groups, a detail which was omitted on later releases and led to much unnecessary confusion The correct attributions are:

Side 1:

Conjunto Guaguancó Matancero
1. Los muñequitos
2. Los beodos
3. Cantar maravilloso
4. Ta' contento el pueblo
5. El chisme de la cuchara
6. Te aseguro yo

Side 2:
Papin y sus rumberos
1. Tu olvido-Los Rosales (previously released on 45 as Puchito 385-A)
2. Mi quinto (previously released on 45 as Puchito 379-A)
3. María la O-La bien paga (previously released on 45 as Puchito 385-B)
4. Tani (previously released on 45 as Puchito 413-A)
5. Blancas margaritas (previously released on 45 as Puchito 444-A)
6. Yo soy cubano (previously released on 45 as Puchito 444-B)

Guaguancó Vol 2
(Puchito/Antilla MLP595)

Guaguancó Vol. 2 (Puchito/Antilla LP595) is another compilation, probably from other Puchito 78's and 45's, with only two songs by Guaguancó Matancero, despite the prominence of their name on the cover. The actual artists, as best as we can determine are:

Side 1:
1. Yo tenía una mujer - Fuico y su ritmo [previously released on 45 as Puchito 471-B]
2. El dia que naci yo - Merceditas Valdés y Coro Folklorico Cubano [previously released on 45 as Puchito 411-A, with "Papin y sus rumberos"]
3. Francicua - Papín y sus rumberos (previously released on 45 as Puchito 379-B)
4. Saludo nacional - Papín y sus rumberos [previously released on 45 as Puchito 413-B]
5. La bandera de mi terra - Conjunto Guaguancó Matancero
6. Guaguanco botao - Senén Suárez y su Conjunto Tropicana Nightclub

Side 2:
7. En este ritmo - Conjunto Guaguancó Matancero [Puchito 359-B]
8. Ya me cansé - Merceditas Valdés y Coro Folklorico Cubano [previously released on 45 as Puchito 411-B, with "Papin y sus rumberos"]
9. Un toque de bembe - Senén Suárez y su Conjunto Tropicana Nightclub
10. Guaguanco en el solar - Rene Álvarez y su Conjunto [previously released on 78 as Puchito 156]
11. Yambeque - Senén Suárez y su Conjunto Tropicana Nightclub [Puchito 120; 78rpm(?)]
12. Anana arena - Senén Suárez y su Conjunto Tropicana Nightclub

Three more recordings by the original group, or at least with the original vocal lineup of Esteban Lantri "Saldiguera" (1st voice), Hortensio Alfonso "Virulilla" (2nd voice) and Juan Mesa, "Juan Bosco" (inspirador), appeared on a 1967 French LP "Carnaval a Santiago de Cuba" (Chant du Monde LDX-A-4250), a disc with it's own complicated history, but here we'll just note the three recordings by Guaguancó Matancero (credited on the LP as "Los Matanceros" - perhaps due to contractual obligations?):

"Carnaval a Santiago de Cuba"
(Chant du Monde LDX-A-4250)

"Carnaval a Santiago de Cuba" (Chant du Monde LDX-A-4250)
1. Gloria a Cuba - "Los Matanceros"
2. La reforma agraria - "Los Matanceros"
3. 'Ta contento el pueblo - "Los Matanceros"

All three songs last well over 4 minutes, which indicates they were recorded for the Chant du Monde LP, and not previously released as 45's. (The version of "Ta contento el pueblo" is different from that on Puchito 565.)

The lyrical content of these songs suggests they were composed in 1959 ("Año de la liberación"),
1960 ("Año de la reforma agraria") and 1961 ("Año de la educación") respectively.

* * * *

For years, those were the most readily available recordings of Guaguancó Matancero, until 1999, with the CD release of "Rumba Abierta" by WS Latino (CD 4205):

"Rumba Abierta"
WS Latino (CD 4205)

This CD contained 10 tracks, all previously unavailable on LP. Unfortunately, no other discographic information was included. Apparently they were recorded by Rogelio Martínez Jr., son of long-time Sonora Matancera director Rogelio Martínez, for a label called F.M.R.

Rumba Abierta (WS Latino CD 4205)
1. Ritmo Abacuá
2. La Gitana
3. Madre, No Llores
4. Yumuri (Yamori)
5. Severa Y Lauta
6. El Enredo
7. Illabó
8. La Polémica
9. La Plegaria
10. Lamento Esclavo

A few years later Tumbao released "Los Muñequitos de Matanzas":

"Los Muñequitos de Matanzas"
Tumbao CD707

This CD collected most of the songs previously released on Puchito 565, Antilla 595, and WS Latino 4295, and added three more:

1. Oyelos de nuevo
2. Benny, adios
3. Recuerdos

The CD also includes a curious track, "Introducción por Manolo Ortega" that we aren't really sure what to make of. Manolo Ortega (1921-2003) was a popular TV broadcaster of the day. In this brief track he says, " música afrocubana...que gustosamente regalamos en este disco..." so we can assume it was released on a 45 at some point, probably post-revolution, and given its relatively short length (1:17) , possibly as a extra track on a 7-inch EP.

UPDATE: Brendan Flannery has solved the mystery of the "Introducción por Manolo Ortega" track for us. He writes:

When I saw the quote of the Manolo Ortega thing about "gustosamente regalamos" I started thinkin that rang a bell, then it came to me. Its from an LP called CUBA TE ESPERA CANTANDO, put out by Instituto Nacional de la Industria Turistica, I'd say probably 1957, 58 but maybe early period pos-triunfo. It doesn't have a record label as such, but credits Puchito, Gema, and Seeco for contributing tracks. No "rare" songs but its a cool compilation and between each song Manolo gives intro/explanation.

This CD also contains what is probably the first version of "Oyelos de nuevo," a song written to dispel rumors that the group had broken up, and that they have recorded at several other points in their career.

"De nuevo aquí tienen a Los Muñequitos
Here you have again Los Muñequitos

Ahora sí, es verdad, que aparecieron
Yes it's true, they have appeared

Aquí están..."
Here they are..."

and the chorus:

"Los Muñequitos de nuevo, hablen habladores"
Los Muñequitos again, let the talkers talk

This version is probably from 1963. It's notable that they refer to themselves here as "Los Muñequitos," when the recording was most likely released under the name "Guaguancó Matancero." This suggests that the name "Los Muñequitos de Matanzas" was in use informally before becoming official, probably when the group was re-formed in the 1970s.

* * * *

And again those were the only recordings of Guaguancó Matancero that we knew of until 2007, when courtesy of Raúl González Brito and Frankois, we found 5 more:

1. Canto para ti
2. Que te pasa, hermano
3. Chinito
4. Lo güiro
5. Tumba la caña

And from a cassette owned by Mark Sanders we got 5 more:

7. Tus promesas (in fact "Llora como lloré)
8. Omelé
9. Sacrificio
10. Lo que dice el Abakuá
11. Mira que eres linda

Recently we received three more from Dutch musician Otto de Graaf (who for his Master's thesis in 1993 wrote a pioneering analysis of rumba lyrics called "Poesía del Pueblo," available here.):

12. Por primera vez
13. No me trates
14. Xiomara

So if we consider the three tunes from the Chant du Monde LDX-A-4250 to have been released separately on LP, we get 34 titles recorded by the original Guaguancó Matancero, or 17 "singles" released on either 10" 78 rpm or 7" 45 rpm discs (or both).

Original vinyl releases of Guaguancó Matancero.Here is the list in an easy to read format. The same list follows below with photos and sound files:

Puchito 298 Los Beodos / Los Muñequitos
Puchito 309 Ta contento el pueblo / Cantar Maravilloso
Puchito 331 El chisme de la cuchara / La bandera de mi tierra
Puchito 359 Te aseguro yo / En este ritmo

F.M.R. 003 Severa y Latuá / El Enredo
F.M.R. 004 Illabó / La polémica
F.M.R. 005 Ritmo Abacuá / La gitana
F.M.R. 011 Oye mi Omele* / Mañana te espero niña - Mira que eres linda*
F.M.R. 012 Recuerdos/La Plegaria
F.M.R. 018 Xiomara* / Yamuri
F.M.R. 027 Madre no llores / Tus Promesas*

Rosy 45-018 Yamurí / Xiomara
Rosy 45-036 Que te pasa hermano* / Chinito*
Rosy 45-040 Lo que dice el Abakuá* / Sacrificio*
Rosy 45-047 Tumba la caña* / Canto para ti*
Rosy 45-053 Por primera vez* / En opuestas regiones*
Rosy 45-063 No me trates* / Lo Güiro*

Egrem 45-2685 Oyelos de nuevo / Beny, Adiós (Released in 1967 as "Los Muñequitos de Matanzas," first use of that name on vinyl for the name of the group.)

(A title marked with an asterisk * indicates it has never been released on any other format.)

Still missing are:

Lamento Esclavo
Oyelos de nuevo


Puchito (Number, Titles, Formats):

298 Los beodos / Los muñequitos (45, 78)

309 Ta contento el pueblo / Cantar maravilloso (45, 78)

[No photo available]

331 El chisme de la cuchara / La bandera de mi tierra

359 Te aseguro yo / En este ritmo (45)

F.M.R. (Number, Titles, Formats):

003 Severa y Latuá / El Enredo (45)

004 Illabó / La polemica (45)

005 Ritmo Abacuá / La gitana (45)

(click to hear "Oye mi Omelé")

(click to hear "Mira que eres linda")

011 Oye mi Omelé* / Mañana te espero niña - Mira que eres linda* (45)

(click to hear "Xiomara")

012 Recuerdos / La Plegaria (45)

018 Xiomara* / Yamurí (45)

(click to hear "Tus promesas")

027 Madre no llores / Tus promesas* (45)

Rosy (Number, Titles, Formats):

(click to hear "Lo que dice el Abakuá")

(click to hear "Sacrificio")

45-040 Lo que dice el Abakuá* / Sacrificio* (45)

(click to hear "Que te pasa hermano")

(click to hear "Chinito")

45-036 Que te pasa hermano* / Chinito* (45)

(click to hear "Tumba la caña")

(click to hear "Canto para ti")

45-047 Tumba la caña* / Canto para ti*

(click to hear "Por primera vez")

45-053 Por primera vez* / En opuestas regiones*

(click to hear "No me trates")

(click to hear "Lo güiro")

45-063 No me trates* / Lo güiro* (45)

Label, number, format still unknown:

Benny Adiós
Lamento esclavo
Óyelos de nuevo

There are now just 3 songs for which the label and catalog number are missing. Of course we need an even number of songs, so that means there is still another out there.

If anyone has any discographic information for these recordings, or knows of any others, we'd greatly appreciate hearing from you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

From the Solar to the Salon: Silvestre Méndez, Miguelito "Cara Ancha" and "Sonerito"

It's well known that rumba has provided the raw material for countless songs in many styles of Cuban music, but seldom has that fact been illustrated more vividly than in a story told by Silvestre Méndez (1921-1997) to Mexican writer Gonzalo Martré (b. 1928).

The story appears in a small but invaluable little book called "Rumberos de Ayer: Músicos Cubanos en México (1930-1950)" ( Editorial Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura, México, 1997).

Silvestre tells the story of how he became a professional musician, and in doing so gives us a rare glimpse into the world of rumberos in Havana in the early 1940's, the rivalries that existed among them, and how those rivalries sometimes played out in "puyas," songs that directly or indirectly challenged or insulted particular individuals.

The story is also significant for vividly illustrating a process that has occurred countless times in Cuban music: a popular "anonymous" guaguancó from the solar is given a band arrangement, maybe a little lyrical adaptation, and taken to the salon.

We were recently privileged to come across the audio of this interview, which fully captures Silvestre's pleasure in telling the story, and incidentally rescuing a forgotten rumba song from obscurity. (A transcript by me is below, an English summary follows.

(Click above to hear audio, transcript appears below.)

"Entonces yo nací en el barrio de Jesús María, me llamo Silvestre Méndez. Jesús María se le dice cariñosamente, "Amalia."

Entonces desde chiquito, nosotros éramos cuatro hermanos, y mi papá, a todas las visitas que nos llevaba cuando yo tenía, lo recuerdo muy bien, apenas unos, como 5 o 6 años, así que cada vez llevábamos a una casa, de visita, mi papá se pone, "A ver niño, baila aí" yo bailando rumba desde que yo tenía 4 o 6 años.

Entonces, en Jesús María uno de los hombres que fue un gran rumbero, un gran compositor, que fue un guia mia, que se llamaba El Nino, Santos Ramírez, él era compositor del Alacrán, "Oye colega no te asombres cuando veas," se cantaba muy bonito guaguancó.

Entonces pues ya como digo, yo nací allí en este barrio de chiquitico la oía la rumba, pues la llevo desde fiñe. En Jesús María había muchos rumberos. Y entonces ya en el plano de la cosa profesional y eso...

Yo no sé si es un poquito largo pa contarte eso...Yo saqué una rumba cuando tenía como...unos 12 o 13 años por ahí, no, unos 14 años, saqué una rumba que se llama "Tambó" que todo el mundo la conoce:

Tambó, tambó, tambó,
escucho el eco del tambó...
Así decía un rumbero
del barrio de Jesús María
en una rumba que había
Tambó, tambó, tambó,
escucho el eco del tambó

Yo saqué esa rumba y se hizo popular en todo el barrio, y eso, y la empezamos a cantar después, y ... sacó una rumba...a así pero volando, volando se hacía famoso y ya se canta en todo el barrio, empezó a sonar esa rumba.

Entonces en mi barrio, pues había muchos rumberos, entre ellos había uno muy famoso que le decían Miguelito "Cara Ancha," era muy yamoso allí, pues que ya era de la gente más grande. Yo vivía allá en Águila entre Diária y Tallapiedra.

Y los muchachos chiquiticos estábamos de Águila y Puerta Cerrada, pues muy... entre Águila y Puerta Cerrada ... el parquecito donde estaba la gente más grande que eran los rumberos, no? Carlos Noa [compositor de "La rumba es cubana"], Juan De Saraguate (?), Miguelito "Cara Ancha", ..., Yoyo Casteleiro, esa genta que sacaba la comparsa La Jabonera que despues le decián La Jardinera.... Entonces se hizo muy famosa la rumba en el barrio, y Miguelito se puso celoso, se puso celoso, y sacó una rumba que decía:

En mi barrio hay un grupito
de rumberitos nuevos,
Yo siempre le digo así:
Con él que sabe no se juega,
y si se juega con cuidado.
Yo siempre le digo
a los rumberitos nuevos:

Oyelo bien, aé
Oyelo bien, aé
Sabes que yo soy la llave
Oyelo bien, aé rumba esa? Uno de los rumberos muy famosos, del barrio nuestro que se llamaba Carlos Noa. Y como nosotros los fiñes andábamos de Puerta Cerrada pa' allá, al hacerse famosa la rumba, un buen día Miguelito, este, Carlos Noa, estaban reunidos allí en Águila y Vives, en el parquecito, ellos se reunian allá a tomar y eso, era una barrita que había allí uno de esos restaurán comida por un lado y por la otra esquina servían la bebida, no?

Entonces, Carlos Noa, dijo, "Quién sacó esta rumba de "Tambó"?"

"Silvestre, muchacho, que anda por allí abajo"

Y entonces le dijo él a Miguelito, "Bueno, un rumbero de esa época sacando eso de "Rumberito de ahora y eso"..."Oyelo bien ae, sabes que yo soy la llave, oyelo bien ae..."

Me enteré de eso yo, y yo saqué...otra rumba. Que se llama, primero - lo que es conocido por "Sonerito de ahora", primero fue "Rumberito de ahora", entonces yo se lo saqué en contestación a Miguelito diciéndole:

Tú me dijistes
que era rumberito,
rumberito de ahora.
Yo canto hace tiempo
pero nunca quise
cantarte mi rumba
hasta cierto momento.

Después me dijistes
que tú era la llave.
¿La llave de dónde?
Tú canta un poquito
no seas alabancioso
Miguel, no te metas
con La Estrella Amaliana.

Porque nosotros los fiñes teníamos un grupito que le llamabamos La Estrella Amaliana allá en Águila y Diaria.

Muy bien, saqué esa rumba coño, también en seguida oye, pues se hizo famoso en el barrio.

Un día Carlitos Noa me mandó a llamar aquellos que estaban allí en la barra a tomar "Traen el fiñe ese de allá abajo pa' que le cante la rumba que le sacó a Miguelito!" Y se la canté en su cara y eso...

Bueno, pues ya a coger este fama que ser conocido por la gente en el barrio como rumbero y eso.

Pero un buen día entonces, oigo el numero en una emisora que se llamaba XEB
cantado por Cheo Marqueti y Los Dandys del 40 se llamaba el conjunto; Los Dandys del 40 de Joseito Bergerí, lo cantan ... yo lo oigo por radio ya no tenía conocimiento todavía de lo que era derecho de autor, ni nada, muchacho, rrronco pa llá, y voy para la emisora y voy para y lo espero afuera, a Cheo Marquetti, tocaba la trompeta un trompetista que se llamaba Manolo Berrio que era muy famoso también, fue trompetista de la comparsa Los Componedores.

Bueno, y lo fui a esperar afuera, chico, de la transmisión, porque pa mi era un ofenso que estuvieron cantando mi musica por radio, sin permiso, y lo espero afuera en la calle, digo, "Este númerito aquí, porque tu lo va cantando pa' radio si el numero que yo sacó era para rumbear nosotros en el barrio y eso, y tu lo va cantando en el radio y te va a ser dueño de él", y dice, "No, no, chico", aquellos entonces me dijeron, "No, eso te conviene que lo cantan por radio, mira, ve, registra tus canciones y ... te hace compositor, te registran a la Sociedad de Compositores y cobra derechos por regalia por compositores..."

Un momentico, sobre que año más o menos

Esto fue, como por 1940, 1940...

Muy bien, entonces, en vez de registrarlo con el nombre de "Rumberito" le puse "Sonerito", para que siguiera cantando Cheo Marquetti, con el conjunto, y fue entonces el numerito eso muy conocido aquí en La Habana, yo creo es muy conocido el numerito, después lo grabó Conjunto Casino, lo grabó Servando Díaz, mucha gente lo grabaron:

Tu me dijistes
que soy sonerito
sonerito de ahora
yo canto hace tiempo
canción y bolero
y canto una rumba
en todo momento

Despues me dijistes
que tu era la llave
la llave de donde?
Tu canta un poquito
no seas alabancioso
Oye, no te metas
en la vida de nosotros

Oye no te metas, en la vida de nosotros

y eso fue la iniciación de mi vida professional, registré mi número, y entonces composiciones y eso..."

Summarizing briefly in English:

In the late 1930's, when Silvestre was about 14, growing up in the famous rumbero barrio Jesús María, would hang out with they younger rumberos and they formed a group called "Estrella Amaliana." Silvestre composed a guaguancó called "Tambó" that became very popular at rumbas in the neighborhood:

Tambó, tambó, tambó, / The drum,
escucho el eco del tambó... / I hear the echo of the drum
Así decía un rumbero / So said a rumbero
del barrio de Jesús María / from the Jesús María barrio
en una rumba que había / At a rumba
Tambó, tambó, tambó, / The drum
escucho el eco del tambó / The drum, I hear the echo of the drum

One of the local elder rumberos, Miguelito "Cara Ancha" ("Mickey Big Face"), got jealous of the young rumbero's fame, and one day called Silvestre over to challenge him with another song:

En mi barrio hay un grupito / There's a new little group
de rumberitos nuevos, / of little rumberos in my neighborhood
Yo siempre le digo así: / Here's what I always say:
Con él que sabe no se juega, / Don't play with someone who knows,
y si se juega con cuidado. / And if you do, be careful
Yo siempre le digo / I always say
a los rumberitos nuevos: / To the new little rumberos

Oyelo bien, aé / Listen up good,
Oyelo bien, aé / Listen up good,
Sabes que yo soy la llave / You better know that I am the key (ie, the best)
Oyelo bien, aé / Listen up good
Silvestre took this in, and later came up with another rumba in reply:

Tú me dijiste / You told me
que era rumberito, / I was a "little rumbero"
rumberito de ahora. / A little rumbero of the moment
Yo canto hace tiempo / I've been singing for a while
pero nunca quise / But I never wanted
cantarte mi rumba / To sing you my rumba
hasta cierto momento. / Until just the right moment

Después me dijistes / Then you said
que tú eras la llave. / you were "the key"
¿La llave de dónde? / But the key to where?
Tú canta un poquito / You sing a little bit
no seas alabancioso / Don't be so stuck up
Miguel, no te metas / Miguel, don't mess
con La Estrella Amaliana. / with La Estrella Amaliana
This new song from Silvestre also became a big hit in the neighborhood. Some time later however, Silvestre is surprised to hear his song on the radio, being performed in a band arrangement by Cheo Marquetti. So Silvestre ran down to wait by the door of the radio station, where the band was giving a live performance. Confronted with the young composer, the group, to their credit, told Silvestre how he could register his song so he could get composer credits.

When registering the song, Silvestre kept the text changes that had been made, so the song would make sense when performed in a son style:

Tu me dijiste / You told me
que soy sonerito / I was a little sonero
sonerito de ahora / a little sonero of the moment
yo canto hace tiempo / I've been singing for a while
canción y bolero / canción and boleros
y canto una rumba / And I can sing a rumba
en todo momento / at any moment

Despues me dijistes / Then you told me
que tu eras la llave / That you were the key
la llave de donde? / But the key to where?
Tu canta un poquito / You sing a little
no seas alabancioso / Don't be so stuck up
Oye, no te metas / Hey, don't you mess
en la vida de nosotros / In our lives

Oye no te metas, en la vida de nosotros

The song "Sonerito" was recorded in 1944 by Conjunto Casino:

And later, "Tambó" was recorded by Machito:

And so Silvestre Méndez, a young rumbero from Jesús María, began his career as a professional musician.