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Nicolas Sirgado Salsa en la Calle 23

Andando por ahi por esas calles San Lazaro Calle 23 Reina Empedrado Cuatro nombres y una sola calle La calle del Obispo Un Chachacha para el Prado Rancho Boyeros Malecon Habana   [...]

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Nicolas Sirgado Salsa en la Calle 23


“I was born in Havana, I’m a Havanan” … is a refrain sung by the popular Cuban orchestra “NG La Banda”, and it fits like a glove to both composer Daril Fernández de la Fuente and myself. Since time immemorial, many people have sung the praises of Havana, the capital of the Republic of Cuba, that precious city. But apart from the son “Calle Enramada” written by Petro Gómez in the 1980s about one of the principal avenues of the city of Santiago de Cuba in the eastern part of the country, I am not aware of any other compositions (which doesn’t rule out the possibility that they exist) dedicated to streets, which are the arteries through which the vital essence of any community anywhere flows, namely its people. The sidewalks and pavement of the streets of Havana have felt the footsteps of millions of people, both natives and outsiders, who have left their imprints there, thus becoming an inseparable part of the lives of those of us who have had the immense fortune of being born in this gorgeous capital of all Cubans. In many of these streets, we spent our childhood playing “four corners” — a street version of baseball — or strolling with a teenage heartthrob, furtively stealing an occasional kiss behind one the many columns that adorn them. And we’ve always headed for Malecón, Havana’s balcony, whenever the tropical heat drives us to seek the refreshment of the incomparable breezes that caress the coast. We leave and return to our country by way of the airport in Rancho Boyeros. We carry our homesickness with us when we go, and when we get back happiness floods us as we are rejoined with that which is OURS. Many of our children have taken their first steps in El Prado, and its ecstatic lions have witnessed the passing of horse-drawn carriages and coaches, jalopies and above all the enchanting vanity of the women of Havana, who are the city’s soul and greatest beauty. And Calle 23 in the modern part of downtown Havana is the route taken by young students on their way to class at the old university and by tourists from overseas who have come to admire the beautiful sights. A few years ago I read a book by a major Cuban author, Manuel Cofiño, called “Walking Down Those Streets” — a title that excellently sums up what we have endeavored to do in musical terms with this project. For all these reasons and many others, we set out to do the hard but rewarding work of creating this CD: trying to make it as a whole and every one of its pieces reflect the history of the streets we sing about. To achieve this, we have chosen musical styles that correspond to each one’s age, predominant social makeup, values and architectural styles. Daril Fernández, who in my opinion is one of today’s most prolific and inspired composers of popular Cuban music, spent months researching the history of the streets we chose in order to give the lyrics of every song an esthetic, cohesive touch, and I think he did an excellent job of it. We carried out this project with the support of a group of outstanding musicians who are well-known in our country, and we owe them an eternal debt of gratitude for the love they put into their playing. How could we forget the magnificent performances of Mayito Rivera (winner of several Grammies) or of the great Vania Borges, or the surprising vocal renditions of Angel Bonne, who brought tears to our eyes on more than one occasion, or of course Carlitos Orta and Luis Frank, who have already accustomed us to the feeling and perfection of their playing, or the young Amílcar, who succeeded in musically communicating how all of us felt. Infinite thanks to all of them!! All that’s left for me to do now is invite you, like a “horseman of Paris”, to accompany us on this imaginary tour of our avenues and lanes. I hope our music evokes images that show you, dear listener, all the beauty of our beloved Havana. That is our wish. This CD is dedicated to all the Havanans of yesterday, today and always, wherever they may be. “This Is My City” where “White Sheets Hang from the Balconies”, resisting the passage of time. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to live. Nicolás A. Sirgado Llanes

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