With the basic tracks done, we brought
in Jorge Luis Guerra from Trabuco to play guiro. Jorge played all
five tunes we had done at that point in one take each. He was done
in half an hour. That guy is truly amazing. Rock solid.
David Bencomo (flute player with
Trabuco) played the flute solos. I explained to him that the digital
recorder had virtual tracks, the capability to make several takes,
and he could play as many solos as he wanted. This usually puts
the player at ease, since they dont have to be on the spot
to play a perfect solo the first time. David played five solos on
Esperando la luz, and each one got better, even though the
first one was marvelous. The fifth one, however, was the stuff.
David listened to it back, and said, ¡Ya! Thats
the one you hear on the album. But on the solo on Ven a bailar,
David said ¡Ya! on the first takeit was
killer, and he knew that there was no point in trying to top it,
and so did I. Great player.
asked El Indio, David and Ricardo Amaray (one of the other great
lead singers from Trabuco, hes the one singing Tú
me dijiste mentiras) to sing coros. Indio took over and directed
the coros like the maestro he is. He came up with the harmonies
and rehearsed the guys. I became the engineer at that point, Indio
was producing, and doing great. He brought in a wonderful female
singer for Estar en Cuba, because the top part was too high. The
girl is only nineteen, but has an amazingly powerful voice. Everyone
who hears the track says, Whos the girl? She is
Anisley De Las Mercedes Rodríguez Venerio, a name as big
as her voice.
After the coros to Estar en Cuba
were done, Indio sang it for me as it played back in the studio.
I had heard the lyrics before, but this was the first time I heard
it with the music and with the coros. It sounds corny, but I had
tears in my eyes, I was so happy. Really.
Now at this point, normally I would
have recorded the horns, so that El Indio would have the whole orchestration
to react to when he did the vocals. But I was running out of time.
Doing horns right takes a lot of time. I had monster horn players
in LA, but I didnt have El Indio in LA. We decided to do the
I asked Indio which tune he wanted
to start with. He said, La Gata Loca, because I dont
know anything about this song. I had forgotten to give him
the demo! We went over the lyrics, and he and David corrected my
numerous grammatical errors, and then we recorded the tune. David
had the score, and sang the melody to Indio phrase by phrase in
solfege, something I wish I had learned. Indio said he sang better
with a little rum, so Hector went on the mad dash for another bottle
of Havana Club. After we got the cuerpo and the first coros down,
I showed him where his guias would go. He said, give me five
minutes, and sat down and started writing down ideas. What
you hear on the album is all first take. The guy is absolutely brilliant.
Next came the tunes he was more familiar
with, because he wrote the lyrics: Ven a bailar and Estar
en Cuba. All of them are first takes. Unbelievable.
As slow as things had progressed
before, now they were moving faster than I could plan ahead, and
I realized that night when I was having dinner with Marcos and his
wife that I didnt have much planned for the next day. I asked
him if he knew a trumpet player that could play the solo on La
Gata Loca. He said, no problem, I think I can find someone.
The next day he shows up at the studio with Julio Padrón!
I about fell out of my chair, I was so surprised. Julio, if you
dont know, is one of the best jazz trumpeters in the world,
let alone Cuba. So I had the honor to record him and later sit in
with his group at La Zorra Y El Cuervo. Gracias, Marcos! Like all
the best players in Cuba, Julio is sincerely humble. I think thats
why they get so good. They never sit back and think, Im
the shit. Theyre always learning, always moving ahead.
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