Around 11:30 it was time to head out to La Macumba
for my last night of musica cubana once again with Manolito Y Su
Trabuco. Yusef offered to give me a lift. When we got there, I tried
to get him in (I was on the guest list), but the Capitán
didn't give a damn that he was in Klimax and refused to let him
in. The cover charge tonight was $25, a crazy price in Habana. Yusef
and his friend went around back to try getting in at the Musicians
entrance, but apparently didnt have any luck there either,
because that was the last I saw of them. Inside, Paquito (Trabucos
road manager) and Javier the empresario sat me down at their table
up front, complete with a bottle of Havana Club, a bucket of ice
and glasses for everyone. Am I lucky or what?
Trabuco came on and started rocking as usual.
Manolito had changed up the set list, and I was hoping hed
ask me to play on Marcando La Distancia, because that is
a Trabuco tune I can play. But something even better happened when
they played that song. Mayito Rivera of Van Van was in the audience,
and El Indio insisted that he come up and sing. He came onstage,
and the crowd went nuts. He starting singing, and maybe it was just
my perception, but he sounded a little bit tentative. After he got
done, El Indio put an arm on Mayitos shoulder, and with a
big smile, proceeded to blow him off the stage. Let me show
you how its done. Mayito took another turn, and then
El Indio outdid him again. This must be what it was like being at
a cutting session back in the bebop days when Dizzy
and Clifford Brown would try to out do the other. And down there
in la habana, there is a minidisc recording of this night just waiting
to be picked up. I cant wait to hear it again.
They finished out the tune quoting Mas Que
Nada, and the whole joint was singing with them: O-ba,
o-ba o-ba. After the show I told El Indio that he had given
Mayito a lesson. In typical humility, he denied it all, saying that
Mayito wasnt used to the band, didnt know the song,
etc. I said, sure, like hes never heard Marcando La Distancia
before. Indio cracked up. He knew. And dont get me wrong:
Mayito is one of the most powerful and amazing singers in Cuba today.
People say he has a teclado (keyboard) in his throat, and its
true: his intonation is flawless, and his delivery is killer. Hearing
Mayito sing Soy Todo live with Van Van is literally like
a religious experience. But this night, El Indio had the edge, and
it was something to see.
I rode the bus back to la habana with the band.
David (flute), Eduardo (bass), Evelio (congas) and I were all going
to Vedado, and we got off at El Rápido at Calle 23 and 14
for a few beers and a bocadito. David had a little bottle of homemade
Aguardiente de cana with him. This stuff has to be at least
150 proof, and is most likely the reason why I remember so little
of the conversation we had there until five in the morning. While
some of the specifics escape me now, I do remember that we laughed
a lot and told lots of stories. I asked David why Trabuco didnt
play the title song from the new album live. Cubans dont
dance to cha cha chá, was the answer. Interesting.
Both the new Manolito and Issac Delgados La Formula
start off with cha cha chás. Apparently this is for European
and American ears. It all rocks to me.
David insisted that the next time I come to Cuba
that I come hang out at his house for some comida, a little descarga,
lots of rum, and a general good time. He told me about the time
he invited a Venezuelan piano player over and the guy would up staying
for three days until Davids wife started getting a little
irritated. It sounds like the party never stops at Davids
house. One of the things I love about going to Cuba is that they
are such a social people. I make more friends in two weeks than
I do here in years.
I straggled home and slept until noon. I
couldnt have asked for a better last night in Habana.
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