Casa De Trova – Cuba 50’s (Tumi Records, 2014)
Cuban singer-songwriter and musician Alejandro Almenares is one of the greatest living troveros (musical poets or troubadours) in Cuba. His music represents the sound of Santiago de Cuba and the countryside, where vocals are joined by skilled guitar and tres work, along with bass and light percussion.
Alejandro Almenares’ songs are full of wit, with topics ranging from love to humorous stories. He has composed several hundred songs. One of his most famous pieces is “Mueve la cintura mulata” used in the film Pecado Original,” starring Antonio Banderas and also performed by Omara Portuoondo.
Casa De Trova – Cuba 50’s comes as a two-CD set with a vocal album containing songs written by Almenares and his father, who was also a legendary trovador. The other disc includes great instrumental versions of the songs with saxophone, violin, guitar, requinto, tres and flute solos by Alejandro Almenares, various members of his band and musical guests.
The lineup on Casa De Trova (Cuba 50’s) includes Gabino Jardines on guitar; Alejandro Almenares on requinto, tres, vocals; Enrique Diaz on double bass; Alfonso Borges on percussion; Pedro Alarcón on violin; Ismael Borges on vocals; Eva Griñán on vocals; Jose Cabrera on vocals; René Domínguez on soprano saxophone; and Tony Rondon on vocals.
Alejandro Almenares was born on May 24, 1937, in the city of Santiago de Cuba into the modest family of Julia and Angel Sanchez Almenares. His father was the founder of the famous “La Casa De Trova” music club. Alejandro Almenares studied at the music school until the age of 14 when he had to quit school in order to work and help his poor parents. “I started playing music professionally around 1951, and continued to play after the revolution and ever since,” says Almenares in the liner notes. “Throughout my life I have played music with several bands in the music school including a group called Los Taínos. My specialty has always been playing guitar in “Trios” format (a band consisting of three musicians). I’ve played all the troubadour music that my father composed as well as my own compositions. I’ve played with and formed many bands with a lot of duets and trios.”
Currently 76 years old, Alejandro Almenares lives in Santiago de Cuba and continues to play every day together with his friend Eliades Ochoa and others at the Casa de Trova.
Casa De Trova (Cuba 50’s) is an splendid album with a good balance of poetic ingenuity and dazzling instrumental performances.
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Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.