Monday, August 16, 2010

Sara Gómez article on rumba: Cuba Vol 3, No. 2 1964

We came across this article by Sara Gómez (1943-1974) in the December 1964 issue of "Cuba," which seems to have been the Cuban equivalent of the USA's "Life" magazine.

Sara Gómez is most known today for her films "...y tenemos sabor" and "De cierta manera." I am not aware of any other articles she has written. The article also contains historic photographs of the old "Clave y Guaguancó" by Mário García Joya, "Mayito," who also had a distinguished career in Cuban cinema and now lives in Los Angeles. Some of them we have seen before in a book by Olavo Alén Rodríguez, but others are new, such as this one of Agustín "el Bongocero" Gutiérrez:

Agustín Gutiérrez, c. 1964
Photo by "Mayito"

Sara Gómez would also include this group in her film "...y tenemos sabor."

The text of the article takes a bit of an unusual form, with narrative information in small text alternating with quotations from Agustín Pina "Flor de Amor" in larger text.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Carlos Embale: Todavía me queda voz. Egrem LD-4297

This was one of the first Carlos Embale recordings I ever owned. I got it right as I was starting to get into rumba, around 1994.

But I never really got into it. The occasional use of son clave contradicted what I was learning about rumba at the time, the songs are all pretty short and go right to the coro, the tres/dos and the tumbadora stay pretty constant throughout, and the energy just overall felt low compared to other things I was listening to at the time, like "Rumba Caliente 88/77" by Los Muñequitos.

Listening to it now though, in the midst of the current "guarapachangueo" craze with percussionists seemingly in free-jazz style overdrive, and overproduced, auto-tuned coros dominating new releases, it's refreshing to hear something laid-back and unassuming like this.

Although I still don't consider it one of his best albums, what my ears once heard as "low energy" now sounds "relaxed" - the quiet confidence of masters at work, secure in the fact that despite their years, they still "got it," or as Embale sings in the opening lines:

"Todavía me queda voz, sentimiento y melodía..."

And masters they are, too. The musicians are not mentioned in the notes, but from Embale's inspirations we can tell that they include:

"Maximino," — most likely Maximino Duquesne "El Moro Quinto," now of "Rumberos de Cuba" and widely considered one of the best quinteros in Havana, — Julio Embale, Carlos' half-brother, on another drum, and Calixto Callava, Marina Sánchez, Rafael Ortíz, and Miguel Manzano in the coro.

Download and enjoy here.

Todavía me queda voz.
Egrem LD-4297
Recorded 1985, released 1988.

Side 1:
1. Todavía me queda voz (Guaguancó - Emilio Cavahilón)
2. Rumba pa' gozar (Rumba - Yánez y Gómez)
3. Bueno y qué? (Yambú - Juan Almeida)
4. Préstame el quinto (Guaguancó - Floréncio Hernández y Mercedes Alvarez)
5. Mi puchunga de amor (Guaguancó - Calixto Callava)
6. Pim, Pam, Pum y Blem, Blem, Blem (Rumba - Chano Pozo)

Side 2:
1. Rumba de los rumberos (Rumba - Ricardo Díaz)
2. Hoy no es ayer (Guaguancó - Tomás R. Valdés)
3. Rumba de Inesita (Rumba - Carlos Embale)
4. La casa de mamita (Guaguancó - Carlos Embale)
5. ¿Por que me guardas rencor? (Rumba - Rafael Ortiz)
6. "1, 2 y 3" (Conga - Rafael Ortiz)

Thanks to Mark Sanders for the digital transfer.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ibae: Ricardo Gomez Santa Cruz Ribeiro

Ricardo Gómez Santa Cruz
undated photo, collection El Goyo

Sad news from Havana: Ricardo Gómez Santa Cruz died Friday July 30 of prostate cancer.

Born July 26 1932 in Havana, at Santiago 5, between Zanja and Salud, "Santa Cruz" was a member of the comparsas Los Marqueses, La Jardinera y Los Dandys de Belén. He was a founding member of the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional. He was known principally as a singer and dancer, and especially admired as a "columbia" specialist.

His singing can be heard on the 'Homenaje a Jesús Pérez" LP, and on the unreleased album known as "Rapsodia Rumbera 2" here.

Santa Cruz
in the Conjunto Foklórico Nacional Catalog, 1963

Santa Cruz in Atarés,
February 2008

Here is some video of Santa Cruz singing guaguancó in 2008. Tremendo rumbero, que descanse en paz.