This is a long, self-indulgent essay on my recent
trip to Havana. It is not strictly about the music, but it is not
a travel essay, either. It is somewhere in-between, and my intended
audience is me, fifteen to twenty years from now, when I want to
refresh my memory. Hopefully you will find some of it interesting
I generally despise travel narratives that throw
in the occasional ¡caramba! to spice up the prose, so
I will write as much as possible in English, although the vast majority
of the conversations took place in Spanish. Occasionally, I will
break this rule, because some things are best left untranslated.
Yes, I am contradicting myself here.
Note: Although I realize that it is next
to impossible to separate music and politics when discussing Cuban
Music, politics has nothing to do with the reason I go there.
If there was a music scene like this in Albania, Timbuktu or Akron,
Ohio, I would go there. Politics don't even enter into the
First, I would like to personally thank Britney
Spears. Cuban women have totally embraced and adopted the style
of wearing low-riding skin tight hiphugger jeans with a bare midriff
top, and they wear it so well. Huge improvement over the
neon spandex look they sported for too many years.
There were some names I dropped in Havana that
opened a lot of doors and made new friends for me. First was Jimmy
Branly. Everyone in Havana remembers, respects and misses him, not
only for his musicianship, but because he's a great guy. Second
was Kevin Moore, el loco de la timba. Every musician down
there knows Kevin, because he's interviewed practically all of them
for Timba.com, and has made
tons of fascinating MIDI recordings with the top piano players there.
Other names included Chuck
"Palito" Silverman, Jack O'Neill of Blue
Jackel Records, and of course, all of the amazing Cuban musicians
that I am privileged to work with here in California. Thanks to
all of you.
Bill Wolfer, May 26, 2002
This way to La Habana