The Sones of Old Cuba

Eliades Ochoa - A La Casa de la Trova
Eliades Ochoa – A La Casa de la Trova
Eliades Ochoa

A La Casa de la Trova (Escondida Music, 2005)

Cuban guitarist/tres player and vocalist Eliades Ochoa is a youngster among the Buena Vista superstars. He’s often seen smiling at his fans from beneath a Panama hat. Hailing from the Cuban countryside (he was born on June 22, 1946), his repertoire possesses a rustic and earthy signature. He’s known for his sweet vocals and his interpretations of sones, guarachas, trovas and guajiras. His mother taught him how to play the three string guitar, tres during his early childhood.

In the early 1970’s, Eliades settled in the city of Santiago de Cuba. It was during this period of his life that he grew into an accomplished guitarist and vocalist. In 1978, Francisco Cobos who founded the
Cuarteto Patria (a group that focused on trova), handed the baton over to Eliades. Eliades augmented the band’s repertoire to include sones, guarachas and guajiras.Eliades career developed through the 1980’s in which he began to record and perform at noted music festivals. He also appeared in the United States and Spain. By the time he was invited to join the Buena Vista Social Club musicians in 1996, he had already been involved in the music industry for a quarter of a century. His involvement withBuena Vista Social Club brought him international fame and led him to work on projects with international musicians such asRy Cooder, Charlie Musslewhite and Manu

A La Casa De La Trova features 15 tracks recorded from 1981 to 1996. The vocalist-guitarist interprets songs by Antonio Fernandez Ortiz, Pavon Argote Ramon, Nico Saquito, Julio Rodriguez and Compay Segundo among others. The track, El Cuarto De Tula might be familiar to many ears around the world since it’s one of the songs featured on the Buena Vista Social Club disc that was released in 1996 and has been covered by other contemporary Cuban musicians such as the Puentes Brothers. The rustic 1992 recording of Rita La Caimana sounds archival even though it was recorded during the last decade. The song is peppered with vocal commentaries throughout and is mirthful. The arpeggio guitar runs are also appreciated.

In fact the guitar work on these songs is immaculate and is backed by earthy beats and sweet vocals. There must be tons of Cuban and other guitarists learning the guitar phrases to El Cuarto De Tula and other songs on this disc. And certainly for those who know Spanish, it would be a joy to sing along with these songs. The other option is to put on dancing shoes and let go of tension in our bodies. Other guitar favorites include, No Quiero Celos Contigo, Son A La Casa De La Trova (which also sports a lovely melody), and well, the whole CD provides fabulous guitar, voice and percussion. But to get an idea of what I’m talking about, take a listen to the lengthy tres (guitar?) solo on the last track, Para Ti Nengon. Eliades Ochoa who has already blazed through vast musical territory still has a long and illustrious career ahead of him. Keep an eye out for that humble smile hidden beneath the shadow of his Panama hat.

Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music

Please visit the new Afro-Latin of the Americas Music page where several Buena Vista Social Club musicians are featured.

A La Casa de la Trova.

Eliades Ochoa recordings: Buena Vista Social Club, Cubafrica (1998), Sublime IlusiĆ³n (1999); Tributo a Cuarteto Patria (2000) and Estoy Como Nunca (2002)

Author: PatriciaHerlevi

Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.