The Havana Blue project includes mainly compositions that I had written during 2013 and 2014 for my Akashmani Ensemble for live performances. My interest in Cuban music and the Latin musical tradition as a whole developed after I listened to the music of the late composer, arranger, and pianist Bebo Valdés (1918-2013), one of the leading artists in the Havana scene in the fifties, whose career, after an interruption of more than thirty years, restarted gloriously in 1994 until his death.
In December 2015, while I was in Havana I had the fortune to meet the granddaughter of Bebo - Leyanis Valdés, daughter of Chucho Valdés, a pianist and co-leader together with her brother Jessie of a band that regularly performs in Havana jazz clubs. After she kindly agreed to take part in the recording of my compositions, Yuniet Lombida, her musical collaborator and saxophone player, helped me organize the band, and in a short time, we had some of the best musicians available to form a Cuban version of the Akashmani Ensemble.
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1. Bebo de Cuba
2. Blue Calypso
Latin Nostalgia Suite
4. Latin Nostalgia I
5. Latin Nostalgia II
6. Latin Nostalgia III
7. Latin Nostalgia IV
9. Havana Blue
Leyanis Valdés, piano
Augusto Lage, congas
Heikel Trimiño, trombone
Santiago Ceballos, trumpet
Yandy Martinez, double bass
Emir Santa Cruz, tenor sax, clarinet
Lennon Ruiz, timbales, snare drum, claves
Yuniet Lombida, alto/baritone sax (1, 2, 3, 8)
Victor Guzman, alto/baritone sax (4, 5, 6, 7, 9)
Adel Rodriguez, bongos, maracas, guiro, cowbell
About the music itself, Bebo de Cuba is of course dedicated to Bebo Valdés and performed in the style of a danzon, followed by a tumbao as a background for solos by Emir Santa Cruz (tenor sax), Heikel Trimiño (trombone) and Leyanis (piano).
Blue Calypso, despite the title, is not a calypso but is played as a guaracha, with solos by Yuniet Lombida (alto sax), Santiago Ceballos (trumpet), Heikel (trombone), Leyanis (piano), and Adel Rodriguez (bongos).
Bauza' is a cha cha cha dedicated to another great musician, Mario Bauza' (1911-1993), who had an enormous role for the introduction of Cuban music and rhythms in New York in the thirties. The first bars of the theme quote one of his compositions called El Mareito. Solos are by Yuniet (baritone sax), Yandy Martinez (double bass), Lennon Ruiz (timbales), and Augusto Lage (congas).
Latin Nostalgia Suite is made of four parts displaying a variety of moods and styles. Latin Nostalgia I is based on a samba rhythm and includes solos by Victor Guzman (alto sax), Heikel (trombone), Leyanis (piano), and Augusto (congas) and Lennon (timbales) in the form of a dialogue.
Latin Nostalgia II is a cha cha cha inspired by a Bebo Valdés composition called Siempre Cantando. Solos are by Santiago (trumpet), Leyanis (piano), and Lennon (timbales).
Latin Nostalgia III is a bolero-cha, with a solo by Emir (tenor sax).
Latin Nostalgia IV starts with an introductory section played by the horns, followed by a tumbao riff in 2/3 son clave where piano variations provide a background to the interplay of the percussions, before a short collective improvisation leading back to the original tumbao.
Sambossa is again based on a samba rhythm, with solos by Emir (tenor sax), Santiago (trumpet), Heikel (trombone), Leyanis (piano), Yandy (double bass), Adel (bongos), and Augusto (congas).
The last number, Havana Blue, played as a bolero, is the only song that I composed while I was in Havana, just a few days before the recording sessions.
The “blue” in the title refers both to the peculiar color of the sky at dawn and after sunset that I could admire from my terrace in the Barrio Chino with a view on the Capitolio, as well as to a feeling of nostalgia for the warm heart of this city. I imagined the atmosphere in Havana in the fifties, and the impression of a traveler at the time of departing.
Blue light hits the dawn
Blue shadows at nightfall
Millions of faces that dream
Why were you hiding?
How many tears you have cried
How many words left unspoken
Now that the world needs a soul
Will you return home?
I wish to thank Leyanis Valdes for accepting to be part of the project and thus connecting my music in some way to the great tradition of Bebo Valdes; YunietLombida for organizing the band in Havana and helping finalize the scores and direct the musicians during the recording session; Sergio Gallardo “El Gato” for teaching me the basic principles of the clave and Latin rhythms in Isla Margarita in 2014; Antonio Iannace for his permission to use his beautiful painting for the cover; and Fabio Tomassoni for giving useful advice.
Recorded: 21st December 2015 (4, 5, 6, 7, 9) and 22nd December 2015 (1, 2, 3, 8) at Abdala Studios, La Habana, Cuba
Sound Engineers: Dayana Rodriguez Hernandez, Rebeca Alderete Bauta
Edited and Mixed by: Tommy Cavalieri and Adriano Clemente at Sorriso Studios, Bari, Italy
Mastered: August 2016 by Tommy Cavalieri at Sorriso Studios, Bari, Italy
All compositions and arrangements by: Adriano Clemente
Cover painting by: Antonio Iannece
Release date: 20 Febbruary 2017
Genre: Latin Jazz
Production by: Dodicilune
Total time: 55'01
Fonosfere by Dodicilune FNF111