Cienfuegos, Cuba (Prensa Latina)
– Wearing his flashy suit and Panama hat, Benny Moré
returned to this city, the one he liked the most, according to his musical
confession, close to his beloved Santa Isabel de las Lajas.
Benny, icon of Cuban culture, returned embodied in a recently unveiled
statue, apparently walking, as he surely did once, with worn-out shoes and
daydreaming about fame and fortune, by the central promenade of Cienfuegos.Life-size, with the hands in its pockets, the image of the King of Rhythm, a
title nobody has been able to take him away, is a work by Jose Villa, author
of those of John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway and the Knight of Paris, the
Havana-based picturesque character.
The monument for Benny, as a paradox as it might seem, comes after that of
Lennon and Agustín Lara, the former in a park in neighborhood of Vedado and
the latter in the Paseo de la Alameda de Paula, both in Havana.
The paradox lies in the fact that the relevance in Cuba of the tall mulatto,
who died in the crest of the wave at the age of 44, goes by far beyond those
of the former Beatles member and the Mexican musician and poet, regardless
generation and preferences.
The worship to Benny is officiated in Cuba wherever a group of friends get
together to recall sad or happy moments, those who go to the air in the form
of song, not paying too much attention to tuning, but with deep-felt
Valiantly determined in a time when the economic crisis hit even the most
famous, Bartolomé Maso moved to Havana in the 40´s to sing in buses and
cafes, hoping to collect a few cents to survive until fame and welfare
In 1945, he went to Mexico with the emblematic Matamoros trio and, some time
later, he was “scouted” by another sacred figure born in Cuba, Damaso Pérez
Prado, whose influence would leave large but transparent prints.
In 1943, he was ready to build the legend. He founded his own orchestra, a
jazz band displaying an unheard-of sound, which traveled America and became
object of cult in palaces and huts. No one was able to dodge the feeling
expressed in “Oh, Vida”, or the warmth of “Bonito y sabroso.”
Four decades later, Benny, casual and generous, affectionate and battler,
fickle and sentimental, brilliant, is back, in the effigy placed in his
beloved Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South, which he never left.