Clandestine Romanticism

David Alvarez - Clandestino
David Alvarez

Clandestino (Tumi Music, 2012)

As soon as you hear David Alvarez’s voice, you know that you’ve stumbled upon a singer with an exceptional and captivating voice. His latest album, titled Clandestino, is described as trova-son. Indeed, David Alvarez combines the great vocal traditions of Cuba, the rich poetic tradition of trova and the romantic and sensual Cuban son, two genres which contain deep influences from Cuba’s Spanish and African heritage.

A passionate singer, David Alvarez is joined by some of Cuba’s finest musicians, including Irakere’s saxophonist Alfred Thompson; tres maestro Pancho Amat; Buena Vista Social Club’s laud (Spanish lute) virtuoso Roldán Carballoso Gomez; and many more.

For me, composing songs is the way to rescue those beautiful moments, when life is lived without prejudices and big questions are asked with the innocent belief that everything is possible,” says Álvarez. “This album is a return to those places and times that, in my short life, I turn to regularly, places that give me hopeful energy and endless inspiration.”

David Alvarez grew up in Manzanillo, the home of Cuba’s trova song style. “Trova was a very vibrant scene, both the old and new styles, when I was young in Manzanillo,” Álvarez remembers warmheartedly. “I memorized a lot of the repertoire I heard then.”

Legendary Cuban musician Pedro Luis Ferrer mentored Álvarez as a member of his group. “I learned not to make concessions when it came to making good art and the importance of consistency in my thinking. I learned to remember that music is the vehicle to bring my thoughts and feelings to light and that music should be a beautiful gift for those who listen.”

The laúd plays an essential role in Clandestino. This lute, derived from thee Spanish lute is an instrument traditionally associated with Cuban country styles. “To me, there is not a more transparent and sweeter instrument than the laúd,” Álvarez explains. “It is one of the central timbres in Cuban country music, though it doesn’t get used in the usual way in these songs. Instead of the typical 3/4 or 6/8 rhythms, its voice brings to the album the spirit of the tonada guajira, a Cuban music style from the countryside closer to Spanish music than African. It imparts a Mediterranean flavor and the feelings of Medieval and Baroque music, where its past lies.”

Clandestino presents the passionate voice of one of the essential new storytellers in Cuban music.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and 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.


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