Orestes Macías in an acting, mic in hand

Orestes Macías: The bolero and other nostalgia

It’s a wonderful afternoon at the beginning of May and in his humble apartment of Vapor Street, just a few meters from Infanta, we found Orestes Macías. At his 82, this bolero living legend in Cuba, keeps the shine of his eyes, the desire of living and keep on singing. After 67 years of an artistic career, his voice constitutes a heritage that goes beyond the borders of this island, taking account that he’s presented in more than 25 countries and some of his recordings are well-known abroad.

This common artist who has defended with his interpretation more than 400 songs, is a part of the popular memory for some reasons among the ones we can mention his participation with Rumbavana band, a band he worked for some decades with, becoming multiple songs into hits. Being together with him gave us the chance to talk about some transcendental moments of the Cuban music. Inspired by the sympathy that he’s used to having, questions began.

What childhood memories do you keep from Bejucal?

I was born in Bejucal in 1934 and I was studying music, mainly the requinto, I was about 9 or 10 years old when I took part in the municipal band of this village.

How did you win through in the show business when you and your family arrived in Havana in the last 40s?

The first I did when I came to Havana was presenting in a singing contest along with a friend, who promoted Pumarejo, who was the owner of CMQ by then, the contest was called Buscando Estrellas (Looking for stars), finally I won the prize, singing a Mexican song called El jinete (The rider).

What happens with your artistic career after that episode?

After 1950, I was in the Vas-Cané band, together with musicians who came from the Sonora Matancera band. I was for a while there, until I had the privilege to go into Arcaño y sus maravillas band (Arcaño and his wonders band), in this band I was so lucky to share with prominent musicians like Orestes “Cachao” López and Félix Reina. In the half of the 50s I was in Hermanos Castro band, and I finished working as a singer of the Casino band at the same time.

Well I think what comes next is Rumbavana, a very important chapter of your life

A great truth, in Rumbavana he spent the greatest part of my history as a singer, there I was in 1958, and recording “Vanidad” with them, I think I was in heaven. The 60s were wonderful, of a great romanticism and in the 70s I was lucky to work with this band which I consider like the “Golden Age” of popular music bands in Cuba. The experiences were out of this world with Rumbavana, above all the ones that had to do with many tours abroad.

Rumbavana band in a performance in Mexico
In Rumbavana he spent the most part of my history as a singer

When did you realize that the bolero was your passion?

I think that was born with me, although I’ve sung everything, the bolero is my passion, where I feel happy and besides I identify with it in front of a very diverse audience. Among I prefer: Ojos y labios by Carlos Gómez, Vanidad by Alberto Molmagran and Tuve un amor by Joaquín Mendive.

What’s happened with you and the song “Boda Negra”?

Well, that’s another story, Boda Negra was recorded by chance, to pad it out, and since I recorded it, became in a compelled song in all my presentations.

What Cuban musicians were you involved with? Who did you admire more?

I admire most of all Joseíto González, the director of Rumbavana, he was like my father, and he died very young at the age of 56, he represented all in the band, he stood out for his imagination and the confidence he had on the Cuban typical rhythms. Particularly, he taught me to have patience, that life’s short and you have to enjoy as much as possible.

I’ve understood that you had the chance to be friend of Benny Moré and Bola de Nieve (Ignacio Villa), what can you tell about them?

Well I’ll tell you an anecdote of each one. Now I remember the time when I used to sing at the Bolero club, located on Infanta and Maloja, Benny used to go to see singing every night, he used to tell me that I sang very well, but please not to drink, a great paradox, because drinking ended his life.

Bola de Nieve was also a spectacular person, when I was about to begin to sing at Sierra, he told me: «You have to tailor two suits: a grey and a black one, to combine, today you wear black, tomorrow the grey one, the day past tomorrow black and grey and like that…», he bought them to me, he had a great kindness and gave me a lot of advices.

Orestes Macías, Armandito and Ricardito singing
from left to right: Armandito (Roberto Faz band), Ricardito (Los Latinos) and Orestes Macías in a Cuban concert.

I also know that you have a close relation with Cesar “Puppy” Pedroso, well-known Cuban composer and pianist, one of the pillars of Juan Formell’s Van Van band, tell me something about this musician.

Puppy is my pal, my pal!!! I’m convinced that Formell and he represented the heart of Van Van; all their songs were “palos” (hits). His main quality as a musician is honesty; there are a few band directors that are so honest in all the ways, that’s why the musicians are faithful to him.

Tell me a little bit about the trips, the tours

Well, specially, I keep an intense memory of the first trip to Peru with Rumbavana, besides having a great success, at that time we were taken to the ruins of Machu Picchu on a military plane and it was an amazing experience.

Another thing that has called my attention was when we presented in countries of well different cultures to ours like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, is appreciating how the people from those places get excited, although they don’t get what we are singing, the rhythm of the music and dance itself make the communication easy, they join to that joy, that audience feels that happiness so badly.

I’ve understood that you’re a founder of the Tradicionales de los 50 project, what do you think about this show?

This project created by Roberto Rodríguez, it’s the biggest that you can find in Cuba in this moment, it focus on the most memorable of the Cuban music, the visitors are surprised, and longing for that in their homelands they can find something like this. In this Tradicionales an incredible quality is centered, it’s about “all stars”. In fact I feel very good there, I sing every day and I keep my illusions alive.

Orestes Macías and the end of the performance of the Project Tradicionales de los 50
“In Tradicionales de los 50”, an incredible quality is centered, in an “all stars” of the Cuban music”.
Barbarito Diez and LP’s “Asi bailaba Cuba” collage

Barbarito Diez: The Voice that did the Danzón a Credit

To those people who are over 70 years old and they’re avid to the Cuban music, above all to danzón dance, Barbarito Diez represents a legend that makes us blue, and it returns a good amount of happy moments of his youth. What we go around fifties although we didn’t get to enjoy the splendor of his voice we did see him sing and we are touched by a respect to his voice so clean, balanced and at the same time able to transmit multiple emotions.

I think that in the history of our music, just a few singers with so peculiar style like his can be found, that incomparable elegance that was mingling itself among the voice and the gestures, they transformed his interpretations into a lecture, in lovely moments of seduction. From his almost still position he won the public during six decades.

Although he was born in Bolondron (Matanzas) in 1909, when he was 4, his family moved to Manati in Las Tunas province. He arrived in Havana in 1930 and in 1931 he began his professional career at Vista Alegre Café. In 1937 a meeting in his life is produced this made a change in his artistic career; I mean his relation with the pianist and composer Antonio Maria Romeu, he put him in his band and joins this pearl’s destiny with the Danzón (our national dance), rhythm that officially arose in 1879, in Matanzas city, he knew to assimilate the best of the Cuban sonorities: the son and the habanera or traditional dance.

Inside Romeu’s band he reaches a remarkable popularity among all the true people of the danzón, being qualified in a short term as the “Golden Voice” of that form, in fact it turns interesting to remember how well his style fit with the nature and demands of the rhythm created by Miguel Failde.

Volume 4 cover of LP’s “Así bailaba Cuba” (That’s the way that Cuba danced)
Cuba: “danzonera” and elegant…

That stage has a key moment at the time his voice reaches the radio, at the end of the 30’s with Romeu’s band. It can’t be forgotten from that experience those extraordinary LP’s arose under the name of “Asi bailaba Cuba”, (That’s the way that Cuba danced), where the singer made an enviable repertoire of great Cuban songs from composers like Eliseo Grenet, Ernesto Lecuona, Sindo Garay, Manuel Corona, Moises Simons, Maria Teresa Vera, Miguel Matamoros, Luis Casas Romero, Felix B. Caignet and Eduardo Sánchez, leaving the compositions ready for the dancers please. These songs were enriched by his performance.

The relation of Barbarito with Antonio Maria Romeu was marked by a mutual admiration, the singer used to tell: «Once the maestro Romeu couldn’t write a danzón that was announced to be sung at the scheduled party, so when he came to the dance and in one of the aisles of the building where it would be held, he wrote two parts of the song, he indicated the musicians to play it and besides he said to wait for his signal to interrupt the performance of the written part because he would alone on the piano, improvising. Noticing that virtue, the audience who were dancing stopped and surrounded the pianist, enjoying the sounds coming out from those hands».


The music that doesn’t die…

I’ve enjoyed the privilege to have in my hands, in some occasions, those records from the just mentioned collection “Asi bailaba Cuba”, in and out the island, because some Cuban people wherever they are, continue listening to those interpretations of songs like: Olvido, Lagrimas Negras, Las Perlas de tu boca, Mujer Perjura, Tres lindas cubanas, Capullito de Alheli and Ausencia, among others.

The King of Danzón” made tours through this continent with remarkable success, where his link to Rondalla Venezolana in the 80’s was important directed by Luis Arismendi, where he immortalized his version of Caballo Viejo, original from the Venezuelan composer Simon Diaz. Barbarito’s greatness is understood better when we listen in the voice of other singers songs that he made a hit, his singing way was so extraordinary that the comparison results so inevitable.

His loyalty to this such dancing form didn’t permit that fashions dragged him to other ways although more than twenty years of his death count, in 1995, he’s still present and admired in some generations of Cuban people, above all among those who make possible that the danzón never dies.

Migdalia Hechavarría and Gabriel García Márquez

Migdalia Hechavarría, the voice of feeling

Barely some meters from the Woods of Havana, downtown 23rd Avenue, Vedado neighborhood, the cozy apartment where one of the alive legends of the Cuban music is located, the super charismatic Migdalia Hechavarría lives there.
Since our conversation started, I discovered that every single word of hers had the weight of the memory and emotion.
Born in the always missing Santiago de Cuba in 1941, we’re surprised by her vitality, and her disposition to share the great experiences of her professional career with the youngest. Being the outstanding Santiago man troubadour Angel Almenares’s granddaughter, Sindo Garay’s friend, shows with pride her pass through the different stages, and feels a great satisfaction about the preference that Gabriel García Marquez experienced with her, who he reached to have a nice friendship. Making myself like in my own house, I began with the questions.


Tell me about the call is discovered in you, and the beginnings of your artistic career.

I began my career in Santiago de Cuba at the age of 7, in a competitive childhood program that was broadcasted on the Radio Cadena Oriental and it was called “La pandilla cabeza de perro” (The dog’s head gang) that referred to a very popular beer in Cuba at that time (1948). The first song I sang was Frutas del Caney and I won the first place. After I was part of a trio with classmates from school, we called it “Las Tres M” (The Three M): Marcia, María and Migdalia.

At the age of 13; I reached a singing radio contest called La escala de la fama (The scale of fame), in 1954, from that competition La Lupe also succeeded. I was among the three first awards, La Lupe and Manuela Cobián, from that moment my work as a professional began, that hasn’t stopped until today.


What can you tell me about your arrival to Havana in 1958?

Migdalia Hechavarría singing around the audience
“When I perform, I give myself in”, the singer says

I remember my first performance: it was at The Sevilla Hotel, in the Piano Bar, I was lucky because I worked with Bebo Valdés at the piano, Cachao in the bass, and Rolando la Serie in the drums. When I installed myself to sing Bebo told me: “Come here mulatica, where you came from?” and I replied that grandmother used to live in Santa Amalia, and she was practically his neighbor. Bebo made an impression because of his mastery that he did with everything.

Later and accidentally I got to the Cabaret Morocco, located on Neptuno Street, where I shared the stage with Barbarito Diez. After I went to Varadero, among other presentations there I recall that I sang with Benny Moré at the Oasis, I presented as well at the Caguama Hotel for some time, and The Continental Cabaret at The International Hotel of Varadero together with Meme Solís and his quartet.


What composers do you prefer to interpret?

From Cuba José Antonio Méndez and César Portillo de La Luz, with him I shared a lot at Gato Tuerto. They’re the chosen when I mean to bolero form, from the soneros I prefer Miguel Matamoros. If we talk about the foreigners I have three great passions that are: Armando Manzanero, Agustín Lara and Juan Gabriel, I admire them for those big boleros that remained, singing them is life itself. Piensa en mí by Agustín Lara, it’s a flag wherever I arrive.


Can you give your opinion about the current Cuban music state?

I think it’s a good moment, but I think that the secret to go forward and keeps alive is not to betray its roots; an example of it is Tradicionales de los 50 project, because night after night we have an excellent audience that comes from everywhere. An interesting point has to do with the high profile that the son has recovered inside what it’s doing. The undeniable is that Cuba is a school of spectacular musicians, and the most important is being able to be in the real value of our music.


Which are the contributions that Tradicionales de los 50 project has done to your career?

In 5 years I’m in the project, the most important contribution is to see the reaction of the people, they’re people from different places who speak different languages… See the way they enjoy it is so wonderful, and then you say: They feel what we are doing!, that’s the mystery of the Cuban music.


What does the night represent to you?

Migdalia and Celia Cruz
“One of the best memories of my career was being next to the queen Celia Cruz”, (Migdalia Hechavarría)

The night is my life, I can’t stop singing… in my night as I told you, the Gato Tuerto has an important position, there my show last according to what the public prefers, one, two, three hours. I make myself as a company by a piano, percussion, a guitar-three and the bass; I’m always the one who ends the night.


Migdalia, I want you to tell me about your major works

Well first of all, when I arrived in Rome in 1998, I was so afraid because it was a stage I’ve never been to, and to my surprise it was spectacular. I also want to mention my performance as the first figure of the Tropicana Cabaret and the seventeen years at Parisien Cabaret of the remarkable National Hotel of Cuba.


How have you felt being the envoy of the Cuban music in some many places of the planet?

I have felt so happy because lucky me, I’ve always been very well welcome. I’ve been at the Jazz Festival of San Remo twice, the first time in 2000, running into Chucho Valdés at the same night in 2003. I remember other stages like the Fair of Malaga, Barcelona and the performances in Norway, Sweden, in Mexico in three opportunities. Colombia, Panama, in Spain several times, and in The Bahamas among others.


Of those glories of the music you have shared stages with, do you feel special admiration for anyone?

Migdalia and the salsa man Oscar D’ León
“Oscar is a great admirer of the Cuban music”, (Migdalia Hechavarría)

Oscar De León, I admire his great simplicity so much, and I appreciate the affection he took me to present me in his show. It’s impressive his spurt of energy and his great sense of improvisation on stage.


What do you think about that mystery of the improvisation within the Cuban music?

It’s innate and it comes out, you don’t think about it, you sing and you plot, the greatest improvised so much and left that legacy behind, that has successfully spread in many places and among different singers.


How’s the future for Migdalia?

The future for me is to go on singing, which the public loves me, although I’m not so famous I have an audience who goes to the shows because of me, it’s a different audience of all ages. What is about to come is the continuation about everything that I have lived so deeply and it’ll be welcome. As I said, I’m a daughter of Yemaya’s and she rules this future that I face with no fear, and I’m sure that it can still offer me a lot of satisfactions.

Irakere and Chucho Valdes

Irakere: The Real Name of a Legend

Barely being 15 years, I had the privilege to attend to those memorable concerts that Irakere used to perform at the movie-theater América, on the same Galiano Street. I mean at the end of the decade of the 70s, moments that I didn’t have an exact knowledge of the transcendence and greatness of that phenomenon that we were so lucky to have. The most vivid image that I keep of those events is the sweat face and intense of the singer and percussionist Oscar Valdés, whose singular voice made the followers of the good Cuban music to be stood up.

Now I understand much better, Irakere is more than a legend, although with enough source to create the strong mythology that’s around it for years. In fact we attended to an authentic revolution inside our music led by a group of performers, most of them coming from The Cuban Modern Music Band.

Irakere musicians collage
Enrique Plá, Oscar Valdés, Averhoff, D´Rivera, Sandoval, Varona… Irakere virtuoso musicians

After an exceptional project, a marked spirit had to exist by the genius and the will of transformation like the pianist and composer Chucho Valdés who had the luck to meet on his way a group of virtuous musicians who responded to the names of: Oscar Valdés (percussion and voice), Carlos del Puerto (bass), Paquito D’Rivera and Carlos Averhoff (saxophones), Carlos Emilio Morales (guitar), Jorge Varona and Arturo Sandoval (trumpets), Enrique Plá (drums) and Alfonso Campos (congas), constituting in that way to the payroll of the first stage of the band.

The interpretations of every song of the repertoire became into events of real show importance thanks to the amazing dialogue established among the instruments and I think in that sense one of its best contributions due to the capacity to get an own style or pitch of the personal freedom of the performers, combining real marked purposes with the overcome of the improvisation, matter that contributed to be identified by some because of its tendency to the jazz way, even in moments that sang the most dancing tasty music or they were included in the ins and outs of the Afro-Cuban traditions.

Among so many talents, a kind of sound conspiracy was getting consolidated which main feature was the style at the time of selecting and getting music, for them to go from the symphonic to the most dancing popular music, going through the legacies of Africa and the jazz registers were transformed into an act of total nature. If today it’s spoken in Cuba more often about the fusion term, it’s so fair to say that Chucho and Irakere were the great broadcasters of this practice among us and with that virtue they accomplished to like the public from different latitudes.

Through this project some old dreams of our music and identity were materialized, most of them linked to the promotion of the mentioned African inheritances, also to the role of Cuba in the process of training of a new modern jazz.

The band in its function as a lab was paying attention to keep the balance the rescue of a tradition and a constant transformation of sound concepts, attitude that let them to share stages with other devoted from the island such as: Leo Brouwer, Silvio Rodríguez, and Manuel Duchesne Cuzán, directing the National Symphonic Orchestra overseas with singers like Mary Lou Williams, McCoy Tiner, Bill Evans, Larry Coryell, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Al Di Meola and Dizzy Gillespie, among others.

With Paquito D’Rivera leaving the band and later Arturo Sandoval, it can be said that a second stage of Irakere began, in which other instrumentalists like José Luis Cortés, Miguel Díaz (Angá), Germán Velazco, César López, Orlando del Valle (Maraca), Mario Fernández (El Indio) joined the band, who with a remarkable talent and unstoppable youth enrich and mark visible changes in their sonority. At the end of the decade of the 90s Chucho Valdés seems to understand that the natural cycles of the band founded in 1973 had finished and he focused on making personal projects, bringing the end in that way.

More than talking about awards, tours, recognitions, that are already known, what it has caused a great interest in me is exploring their inheritance, contribution and the legacy left by a collective memory of a potential music that protects from the remembering and even from the nostalgia of that treasure able to continue transmitting learning to so many young people and an unstoppable pleasure to the grown-ups.

Bebo and Chucho Valdés

Bebo and Chucho Valdes, two lives in the Cuban music

Few families have left a so strong and transcendental legacy in our culture like the one starred by the Valdes inside the Cuban music spectrum. Names like Vicentico Valdés, Bebo Valdés, Chucho Valdés, Lazaro and Lazarito Valdés, Oscar and Oscarito Valdés and Mayra Caridad Valdes, among others, confirm that exceptional phenomenon. On this opportunity our main interest is establishing some of the most visible connections between a father and a son of this sound caste, I mean Bebo (father) and Chucho (junior).

Those  magic bonds that were forming between them began with the arrival of both to this world, because they were born on the same date, October 9th, just one in 1918 and the other one in 1941, in the same place, the picturesque town of Quivican, today Mayabeque province. From the rest a so universal and insuperable instrument has been in charge like the piano, where their ambitions, interests and innovations have coincided in an amazing way.

These four blessed hands to transform and enrich the sound register of the island, during more than seven decades they have reached to treasure one of the most perdurable heritages of our identity. The two musicians understood that the real strength and the reach of their creations should be based on such questions like Who are we? Where our gifts come from? The complex and real exceptional consists on changing the responses to such questions in a music of so many aesthetic standards able to dialog with the audience from any part of the planet and to open new and fertile ways for the contemporary culture.


From Bebo…

If we start with Bebo, also known like the magician of the Cuban rhythms, we discover that among his merits are stood out to be one of the greatest precursors of the jazz-Afrocuban, so as being the creator a rhythm known as La Batanga, which in the 50s reached an extraordinary success. In the 40s he had composed some remarkable mambos like La rareza del siglo. He worked over a decade at the famous Tropicana Cabaret, and he was into innumerable jazz moments, so as recordings and presentations of international stars like Lucho Gatica and Nat King Cole.

During 1960 in the middle of a tour he stayed in Switzerland, being away from the musical world for around three decades, it was in 1994 due to the insistence of his friend Paquito D’Rivera, who decided to make the record Bebo Rides Again.

Amazingly the XXI century, with an older age the huge success of his career will knock at his door, the producer and filmmaker Fernando Trueba would come to his life to record eight records and to star in four films.


From Chucho…

About his son Chucho its almost everything said, we’ve had the privilege to enjoy one and over again the great pleasure of his talent. While I’m writing the images of those glorious years of Irakere don’t stop to come into my mind, and the first time that I listened to that enormous song called Misa Negra. From Bebo he inherited too many things, among them the mastery, a very big size of his sound concepts, the splendid digestion that he got to make of the Afrocubans elements, the freedom between a hand and the other one at the time of playing, situation that makes him execute incredible interpretations, and the virtuous personality that took him to be considered among the five best jazz pianists in the planet.


From both of them…

After too many years of separation, in this century already, the fruitful reunion between them happens, that’s at the end crowned in a magical way in 2008 with the recording of the CD Juntos para siempre, which I consider to my point of view a spurt of affection and at the same time very virtuous, which some mythological songs are included like Lágrimas negras, Sabor a mí, La Gloria eres tú and others that refer to themselves, such as Preludio para Bebo, composed by Chucho in honour of his father, A Chucho y Descarga Valdés, I think that mainly this album constitutes a clear testimony of those connections that I talk about.

As a finale we can say that about two years before Bebo’s death (2013), his son went to Benalmádena (Malaga), where he lived to accompany him at the end of his life and to recover a little the time that they had lost about being together. So two glories were getting closer again who knew to make of their creations a successful trip from the popular to the classic. Between these two great musicians got a cabinet that’s close to the respectable figure of twenty Grammy awards. The most faithful music lovers around here feel very proud of being their partners.

Van Van and Juan Formell on stage

The Cuban’s life in Juan Formell’s music

Saying Juan Formell sounds so familiar and significant, that transmits us the sensation to be talking to a person well close and loved. After more than 40 years, leading the Van-Van band, he had the matchless gift to understand in a clever way and at the same time deep how Cuban behave on their everyday life, and transforming that phenomenon into an artistic work that’ll last forever, like a pleasant testimony about how Cuba was during some decades.

Times when Cuban used to burst an enthusiasm marked by the authenticity and hope, at the same time that the society faced big challenges, in which his songs put some joy and a lot of heart in to the hard chores imposed by the daily life. One of his biggest virtues is related to that humorous vein able to solve funny complex situations and more than that pretty tense.

During the different stages of his creation many experts have defined him like a surprising philosopher from the popular slang, able to give form and order through the lyric-melody fusion to the thought of diverse social groups and discover the common denominator between people that can seem very different, what I dare to define like a sensible way to the Cuban enigma.

Formell and Van Van group
The Cuban way of living was perfectly described by Juan Formell and Van Van

His extraordinary gift to handle a series of phrases that can be constantly said on the street, and somehow they mark the identity of the different urban areas were being fruitful in legendary songs sung and danced by thousands and thousands of followers. Among so many phrases that passed to be great success of his band are found: “Nadie quiere a nadie”, (Nobody loves anyone), “Los pájaros tirándole a la escopeta”, (Birds shooting at guns), “Te pone la cabeza mala”, (Your head gets crazy) and “Ay Dios ampárame”, (Oh Lord, protect me).

Details like that one able to close how women walk dance and behave on this island, appears in a memorable song in his so called “Por encima del nivel” (Over the level), more known between the dancers “La Sandunguera”, performed by Pedrito Calvo, one of the leading voice of the group. Incorporating the right sounding color to his sticky lyrics is another of his great senses, having the clarity to give all the necessary attention to the singular of the Cuban son, won by him through the period of his training, and constitutes one of the most prized elements who those running through the blood who were born here.

In this sense the most exciting of the marriage between Formell and his people is the process where the musician gets a series of keys of wisdom and the popular expression and after the society makes it of their own what he’s changed into art putting it into work in stages of the public life as the private one. His folklore is shown so spontaneously as his own existence, reaching remarkable spiritual and identity values.

The treatment of religion in his music also gets a special role; Formell tackled the subject with grace and respect at the same time, catching from that point of view a whole audience. As a funny fact we can say that the Van-Van was founded on December 4th, 1969, a day in which one of the most intense religious celebrations is held, St. Barbara or Chango.

One who had the opportunity to talk more than one occasion to Formell, turn us out exciting to discover how his own biography took a leading role in his musical work. He often used to tell about his mother’s cuisine passion and somehow he inherited this call that makes easier a closer contact with the popular preferences in the creole food. The ones who are over 50 or get closer, haven’t forgotten a song of his that was a hit and in some occasions it was made real in our kitchens, such a song is called: Échale calabaza al pollo (Put in some pumpkin the chicken).

When he said goodbye on May 2014, the maestro left an expressive legacy of indisputable richness, the common people’s testimony that can be brilliant. People like his own barber, even an anecdote of his, when someone arrived hurrying him to have his hair cut very fast, this one responded him: Don’t be wrong, the roach has antennae, but it’s not a TV”.

Photographs: Pedro Herrera Archives