I left out the most interesting aspect of Monday night’s Salsa Mayor performance: two songs in, a Cuban guy got up on the stage, proclaimed himself the world’s biggest SM fan, and slapped $20CUC on Maikel Blanco’s piano for the band to play Quitandome lo malo. Maikel was looking - well I thought he looked embarrassed, but to be honest, I think that’s my projection there, I don’t think he was embarrassed at all - even when an Italian guy - Stefano I think - got up on stage and added $80 CUC to the $20. Next song: Quitandome lo malo, obviously. Wonder how much of that money (if any) the musos saw.
I fought my way down the front and wound up next to Elito who had a table in the corner. Danced and shouted a bit; but the constant jostling of people passing by and the inevitable Cristal spilt down one arm saw me beat a retreat to the back corner where I stayed for the rest of the gig. Up the back, the sound was horrible - all Yandy’s bass, farty and distorted and precious little else. They did Niña bonita - not one of my faves - and a Latin jazz number. More sitting down followed before they wound up with Ony Ony. I seriously could have stayed home without missing anything much. Duni was there with his brother. The farandula massive of foreigners and their local hangers-on was out in full force as you’d expect. It’s still totally crazy here. I think the whole scene is giving me fatigue. Duni was off to drink in the bar. I was off to hunt down Alexander and nail down the details of the interview. I found him in the backstage room talking quietly with about four others. He said they’d be at Egrem on San Miguel the next day, and to go down there at 4. Bewdy.
I was waiting on 31 for a taxi when a mate of Duni’s, with HdP conguero Guillermo in the front seat, stopped and said “vamos”. All right.
I was a bit nervous about the interview - I don’t know why. Alex is a great guy; very smart and articulate, and always has an answer for whatever you want to throw at him. He’s the perfect interview subject. And I had help from Martin, who lives here and is a journalist as well. But you know, Havana, anything can go wrong. We got to Egrem at 4 and asked at reception if he had arrived. The woman on the desk said, no, he’s arriving at 4. Martin said, as we walked away, it’s 4 o’clock by my watch. Yandy was already there, in the bar next door, but he was pretty much on his own. We sat down a while, then got up and waited in the street. Alex arrived at 5 (on time, by Cuban standards, said Martin). We went upstairs with him, where the engineer was playing what they had so far of Pasaporte (some percussion, bass and piano). Yandy was playing bass in the control room, and when he went to leave, he asked Alexander to hold it. He did, and played the bass line along with the track.
After an animated conversation with various socios about the baseball he called us for the interview. I’ll try and get that up at timba.com within the next fortnight.
I guess the most important thing to know is that what they’re recording is a new album, not demos. He hopes it will be out in March. He said they expect to be finished recording by Friday, which seems an awfully short time for a whole album, but then they were there until 6am one night, and I guess you can get a lot done in that time, especially with guys who are essentially session musos and are used to working in the studio.
I hung around a bit afterward, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on - mainly the setting up of bateria and timbales - and I was bloody starving, so I went to Yarima’s house for beans and tostones.
Alex’s tardiness meant I missed Pupy at Miramar, but Revé was there for the night, and I hadn’t really wanted to go out there twice in one day, even if it was my last week, so I didn’t really mind.
Yarima and I got out there about 12.30, where she was immediately hit on by some guy who was apparently a promotion guy for Van Van. Didn’t get his name but he was there with Boris Luna, who I spoke to briefly. They just got back from Colombia and are off to Europe on Tuesday. They have pretty much been away the entire time I’ve been here. Haven’t missed them really though. Saw them a lot last time.
There was a good crowd but the energy wasn’t as high as it had been at Galiano. I really enjoyed myself that night. This gig was good too but, I don’t know, I wasn’t in the best mood, and dammit I wish they’d stop playing Madrugada. They have a bunch of songs that are a hundred times better - boiled sweet potato anyone? Also am a bit over Dale agua al domino. It’s a good song, but I don’t really get why that’s a staple in the set. Also, they played Chichi before Agua pa Yemaya, forcing me to stay in my spot, cause I like Yemaya. Aisar was kind of laughing at me as I stood there enduring Chichi. I mean it’s not the end of the world or anything. It’s just a song I’d rather be sitting down for.
They played the new song but it seemed a tad undercooked to say the least. I’m pretty sure there was more to the recorded song I heard in the studio. Anyway, I have video so you’ll be able to see for yourselves.