Coinciding with the US release of the debut album, Que Linda Es Mi Cuba, by Cuban campesino band Saborit, World Music Central interviewed the producer of the recording, Mo Fini.
How did Saborit find out you were going to be in Cuba?
I was supposed to be recording with Cándido Fabré in Iciac studio. Both Cándido and Saborit come from Manzanillo in the eastern part of Cuba so the news went round quickly that I was going to be in the studio in that date.
How long did it take the musicians to get to Havana?
Normally it takes 10 hours, but it took them three days and nights to get to Havana.
How did they get there?
An old truck a home made conversion of something between a tractor with a welded metal box on the back…
What moved you about their music?
Its simplicity and sabor. So much Timba and salsa coming out and hardly ever music which touches your soul rather than your feet. Their music is root music played all with acoustic music and very much has the sound of the original Buena Vista which made them so acceptable to all audiences around the world.
Did you sign them right there?
I said yes l love your music and we will do a recording soon. They were very anxious and tired…they were hoping for something about more concrete than that.
I asked them to stay two more days and I will sort everything out. They did that.
What was the process?
We immediately organized an alternative shelter for two days and some hot food and drinks. When I said yes ,it took me 4 hours to say see you tomorrow as they had to show their appreciation. The old man cried of sheer joy and I got very embarrassed to be in a way there.
Where did you record their album?
Near their home in a small local Radio studio in Manzanillo.
What can you tell us about the group’s background?
They all come from campesino background and worked and lived in the neighborhood all their lives. All born in Manzanillo and their spare time they have been playing music now together for over a year. They rehearse in a room in the local radio station and have their music broadcasted daily on the radio.
What characterizes música campesina?
The main element in this music is the laud [Spanish lute] which is wildly used in Cuban Guajiro music, in solos and more frequently accompanying the guitar.
Where does the name Saborit come from?
Composer and guitarist Eduardo Saborit (1912-1963) was one of the greatest composer of Cuba. The group chose the name in their honor.
What’s the story behind El pregón de la Tumi?
After I saw them outside the studio I entered the studio for some work. Two hours later as I was leaving and the technician who is a friend of them said come and there is a surprise for you. They opened the side door and there they were in this dark room occupying and half of the bathroom space. As the door opened they went started playing this song. Apparently it was composed there and then. The chorus were improvised too. At one stage I had to improvise and dance with them…it was just so amazing… The word pregón refers to a street seller…
Will the group be touring soon?
We are in the preparation of the group for 2007 now.
Are there plans for a new album?
I think I should learn to walk before run….
What other Cuban discoveries have you made recently?
Well the most and last unknown Cuban Artist was Yusa who happened to be one of the most successful artist of Cuba since Buena Vista. Her popularity, in particular in Japan, has taken everybody by surprise.
I am currently recording with three young guys a reggaetón CD. They are called Sangre latino….
Buy the album: