I stopped at Manolito's and explained that I couldn't
go to Cienfuegos and at 9:30 that night, I met Osiris at El Rapido
and we grabbed a taxi to the studio. I bought a bottle of Havana
Club Reserva so as not to show up at the session empty-handed.
The amazingly cool thing about Cuban recording
studios is that they all have bars. American studios are missing
a great opportunity for additional revenue with this feature. After
all, how much of a recording session is spent waiting around for
the engineers to get the stuff set up and get the sounds on the
drums? A lot. The bar didn't mind that we brought our own
rum, and we sat down in the bar and they provided us with glasses
and a bucket of ice.
and I were joined by the legendary Changuito. Osiris told him what
I had said the night before: that percussionists all over the world
bow down to the great Changuito as their Santo. Changuito
laughed hearing this, and put his hand over his heart in a gesture
of humility. The next four hours the three of us sat there and did
away with that bottle of Havana Club. I told Changuito I had seen
his interview in the Van Van movie, Empezó La Fiesta.
He seemed puzzled by this, he had no idea that there was any such
movie. I described the location of the interview and then he seemed
to remember. Changuito told stories, and every time I asked him
if he knew such and such a musician, he would switch to English
and say, "Ee's my brother!" with one hand over his heart.
As the rum flowed, I noticed that he and Osiris
were talking faster and faster. Americans tend to get real slow
and slur their words when they get drunk, but these guys were getting
more and more fired up, their words becoming totally indistinguishable
to me, but not to each other. They were speaking in sixteenth note
triplets and flailing their hands, gesturing madly to illustrate
each point. Cubans talk more with their hands than any Italian I've
came into the bar to announce that they were ready to record, and
I asked him and Changuito to pose for a picture with me. Then we
all trooped into the studio, and the group started recording. They
started out by doing a couple of tunes from Pupy's last record,
and I was wondering what was going onmaybe he was re-recording
the stuff for some reason? After one take, they went back and blasted
through another tune from the album.
At this point, it was getting close to three in
the morning, and I was fading fast. I caught myself drifting off
in my chair in the control room, so after a bit I decided to pack
it in. It had been a long day, and apparently Changuito and Osiris
had a far greater tolerance for Havana Club than I do. I figured
that Osiris had been mistaken about recording a new song, so I wouldn't
be missing anything They were just doing the old tunes, for whatever
reason. I said my goodbyes and thanks, and I left. The next day,
Osiris told me that they did indeed record a new song, one that
Osiris really liked. ¡Que lástima por mi!
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