So I'm returning to Havana on May 22. After much thought and deliberation – OK, procrastination - I'm going a month later than I usually would.
It's not that I didn't want to go back - I was hanging for it as usual - but whereas going in April/May/early June used to be a no-brainer, it has now become more complicated. This used to be the ideal time because Cubadisco is in May, and most of the big bands would usually be in town for it. Also, almost all of them go to Europe for the summer festivals in July, so they'd be cooling their heels beforehand at home, then in July and August, the tumbleweeds would be blowing through the Casas de la Musica.
Now that the US is welcoming Cuban bands again, a few of them are going to be in the States in April and May, and, even worse (for me), Havana D'Primera, now touring Europe, will be returning there in May and staying until July. Due to circumstances at work I was unable to stay into July, so unless I take a side trip to France, I may miss out on seeing my favourite band until next year.
(Give me a moment while a choke back the tears.)
If only some of the promoters here were interested in bringing them out - or any of the timba bands, instead of sticking with the tried-and-true pre-50s Buena Vista formula - it wouldn't be such a tragedy. But I can't see a time when that's going to change here.
I went to see Orquesta Buena Vista last Sunday at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. Calunga (pictured above) sang like an angel, as usual. Rolando Luna played like a man possessed (when given the opportunity); and the musicians were mostly excellent. They did some Arsenio songs (Rincon caliente and A Morón no vuelvo más - see a previous post for a live version of that), which pleased me, but lots of Latin jazz stuff (an instrumental of Bilongo, and an interminable cha-cha-cha) which bored me senseless but which the seated crowd lapped up.
I caught up briefly with Calunga after the show - what a lovely chap. He was however, quickly hustled out and into the van. (They run a very tight ship; you have to watch those old guys - they're real live wires.) I hope to see him again in Havana.