My notes for this day read: "Pupy."
I guess I spent the day practising and meandering around Vedado.
The big thing of the day was Pupy Y Los Que Son, Son at the Casa
De La Musica.
I had planned to meet Osiris at El Rápido
so we could ride to the gig together, but I was late getting back
from dinner at a friend's, and he had already split. I got to the
Casa too early, and browsed the little shop inside. Egrem's record
shops are sort of as if you had to go to the Post Office to buy
CDs. The guy working the counter doesn't know anything about the
music, and could care less. The shelves most likely contain about
60 percent of what they have in stock, judging from the piles of
boxes visible in the back, but why restock the shelves when Habana's
beisbol team is whipping the team from Santiago, and it's
down to the ninth inning? At least they sell beer.
I found Osiris at the bar next door, and we hung
out and talked, and after awhile Leonel showed up. After the doors
opened at La Casa, we went in and sat down and found ourselves at
a table next to Changuito and the great pianista Alfredo Rodriguez,
who remembered me from La Zorra Y El Cuervo when I sat in with Perchín
Jr. I asked him if he was going to go back there tomorrow night,
but he said he was returning to Paris where he now lives, and gave
me his phone number. Changuito was his usual ebullient self, with
a huge Cohiba and pouring plenty of rum for everyone.
comes the hard part: describing the impact and sound of Pupy's new
band. All superlatives seem inadequate. Let's just say that this
band is mighty and awesome, a powerful force that you need to feel.
If you ever get the chance to hear them, go. Incredible,
absolutely incredible. And Pupy, when playing with this band, looks
twenty years younger. He plays standing up, and has a constant grin
on his face, grooving and dancing as he plays those tumbaos that
are so distinctively his own. Nobody plays like Pupyhe was
not only an innovator in the role of piano in modern Cuban music,
but his style is so well defined. There aren't that many musicians
who can do that.
Although there was a timbalero in the band, along
with a conguero and trap drummer, Changuito took charge of the percussion
section and played bloques and solos on timbales and a little electronic
Yamaha drum pad. As the chief elder statesman of Cuban percussion,
he doesn't have to work full time, and he was having a ball on stage.
I wish I had a more detailed report of what they
played, but as the music went on, I found myself in that state of
musical bliss, where I was just grooving to the music. I'm not much
of a dancer, but I was grabbing chicas to dance with, because you
just couldn't sit still when these guys were playing. Later, after
the show, I freaked out one of these chicas (a particularly linda
one named Areilas) by using Mozart's line from Amadeus in
Spanish: "¿Quieres casarte conmigo, si o no?"
("Will you marry me, yes or no?"). She did give me her
phone number, but I never got the chance to call her up for a date.
Another reason to get back to La Habana soon
After the show, I went backstage and congratulated
Pupy. "¡Que Fuerza! ¡Increible! ¡Que lástima
por Van Van!"
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