New York City, New York – Trumpet player Manuel ‘Guajiro’ Mirabal, who has played an integral part in the Buena Vista Social Club series of recordings and tours, makes his solo recording debut on Nonesuch/World Circuit Records. Buena Vista Social Club Presents Manuel ‘Guajiro’ Mirabal is a tribute to the legendary giant of Cuban music, Arsenio Rodríguez.
All of the tracks on the album were written by, or are associated with, Rodríguez and are performed by a specially assembled group in the mould of Arsenio’s great trumpet-led conjuntos of the 1940s and 50s. The Sunday Times (London) says the record “effortlessly conjures the sound of Rodriguez in all his raucous glory.”Nicknamed El Ciego Maravilloso (The Blind Marvel), Arsenio Rodríguez was a revolutionary figure, completely transforming the sound and definition of Cuban music.
An expert in Congolese rhythms, he pushed African influences to the fore, refashioning the traditional septeto by adding the conga drum and two extra trumpets to give it much more power and scope, setting his syncopated tres style against the percussion. His innovative use of the piano began with a young Rubén González, who played on Rodríguez’s first recording in 1943, and developed over the years with Lili Martínez. When Rodríguez moved to New York in 1950, trumpeter Felix Chappottín assumed the mantle of bandleader; Chappottín, along with Alfredo ‘Chocolate’ Armenteros, was instrumental in the emergence of trumpets within the conjunto through their work with Rodríguez, and Mirabal is the heir to that tradition. Rodríguez’s music is deceptively simple, but extremely difficult to perform.
Recorded in Havana’s famous Egrem studios, the ensemble featured on Buena Vista Social Club Presents Manuel ‘Guajiro’ Mirabalis an A-list cast of Cuba’s finest musicians. A driving percussion section—including Miguel ‘Angá’ Díaz, Amadito Valdés, and Carlos González—joins Orlando ‘Cachaíto’ López on double-bass, Roberto Fonseca on keyboards, and Manuel Galbán on acoustic guitar. Vocalists on the album include Calunga, a rising star of the timba scene in Cuba, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who makes a guest appearance on the album, singing lead on “Deuda.”
The all-important trumpet section consists of Mirabal, his Tropicana partner of almost 30 years, Luis Alemañy, and the late Alejandro Pichardo Pérez, to whom this album is dedicated. Featured soloists on the album include Papi Oviedo on tres and Roberto Fonseca on piano . The closing track “Dombe Dombe,” features Arsenio Rodríguez’s original pianist, the great Rubén González, performing a piece that he specifically requested be included on this album.
The album was recorded almost entirely live in the studio, with minimal overdubs. For producer Nick Gold this album has been a real labor of love and, for Mirabal, it is a great thrill to be finally making his solo album debut at 71; as he says “Everything comes in time.”
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV 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 albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.