Photo: Abel Zanchez
Isaac Delgado improvises in a National Theatre about to budge. It seems a hallucination coming from other decades and is almost the close of this story. The climactic moment, we could say. The final confirmation of the size of the "sugar bowl". However, while this is the end of the night and first we have to tell other details, we cannot forget to mention, despite we risk having a too long first paragraph that, in the center of the stage Carlos Varela was standing, accompanied by Juan and Samuel Formell, Aldo Lopez Gavilan, Giraldo Piloto, Jose Luis Cortes, Eduardo Cabra (Visitor, Calle 13), Diana Fuentes, Alexander Abreu, Ivan Lins and X Alfonso.
The show began when Varela came on stage amidst thunderous applauses, right after his three band members took their positions: Julio Cesar Ochoa (bass), Carlos David Suarez (drums and vocals), Roberto Luis Gomez (guitar). Also on stage were Aldo Lopez Gavilan-musical director of the whole show – and the Chamber Orchestra of Havana.
They had gathered to record the first DVD of the Cuban musician who dresses in black although he should wear white. The DVD is the responsibility of the director of audiovisual products, Ron Chapman. The show and its shooting mark the 30 years of artistic life of the mole that broke in, traumatically perhaps, in the history of Cuban song with Santiago Feliu, Gerardo Alfonso and Frank Delgado in thye 1980s.
In the seats, as before, the sons of William Tell. According to him, there were also present his "holy mother" and even Cuban filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea (Titon), besides those who didn’t have Superman, the toys were invented once a year and the owners of Soviet TV sets. It is known that Varela is just sometimes on the radio, sometimes nothing more … but when he opened with one of his most emotional songs, “Como los peces”, it seems that for years he has remained unshakable in the top ten of personal charts.
Gradually he went through his repertoire, and called them “of always”, implies a return to other times: for some, the student rebellion stage, for others, long dark hair, graying now correctly lowered on a well set head on the shoulders, for many, that discovery of new music with the revelation of another Cuban reality, unknown during our child innocence.
Nubes, Foto de familia, Graffiti de amor, Como un ángel, El leñador sin bosque, Habáname and Monedas al aire came out of the microphone, went to the extreme end of the second balcony and that way the hypnosis of the artist nicknamed "the gnome" for obvious reasons was effective, even after the most diverse adventures his followers used to get a small space in the newly renovated theater. For them there were also premiers, especially, El árbol de los pájaros dormidos, which he dedicated to the people of Cuba, and the most recent pieces in his repertoire as Vino Tinto, sung by Diana Fuentes, who manages to magically wrap much of Carlitos followers.
With his voice, audibly impaired, the star of the night invited "his nephew" X Alfonso to sing in a duet “Mi fe”; he also invited Brazilian Ivan Lins that, "similar to the Russians", kisses his friends on the lips before singing in Portuguese fragments of “No es el fin”, the same way, the American Jackson Browne swapped into English half of the verses pertaining to the song “Muros y puertas”.
The three-hour concert quenched the thirst of songs, and they did it in style. Lopez Gavilan arrangements placed in another dimension known lyrics and melodies we all know by heart without mutilating the simplicity and spontaneity with which they had. Comfortable in front of the keyboard, he was careful with his performance not to overshadow the central motif of the concert even though it contained no more than a flash of genius. In the background, the orchestra remained both a ballad set to minimalist bars closer to rock and roll. Its director Daiana Garcia danced, baton in hand, as he exchanged glances with drummer and keyboardist, like any other member of the band.
It certainly was a long concert, it was necessary to leave the room for a while in the company of a friend, or certain liquid or nicotine, but in Varela’s party, daring to leave early is to take more risks than needed. The troubadour decided to end with a superlative chachachá which tells the story of a Chevrolet and its spare parts.
Given the presence of Van Van’s Juan Formell -shielded by the bass – and his son Samuel-in-command of the drums – it was expected that this could turn into something more. No wonder Jorge Luis Cortes accompanied on the flute and, considering the rest of the performers, the chords could be expected to take the looks of a volley of Latin jazz.
But no. Cortes took over an audience that boasts of being different from the ones that dances with Cuban timba orchestras. From thin air he brings a chorus that quickly caught on throughout the room. Seconds later, Cuba and Puerto Rico will try rough dance steps, as in the dining room of their marital home, while the trumpet of Alexander Abreu makes its entrance to raise the temperature even more. Amid the playful chaos, Varela enjoys how the matter had escaped his hands, and when the frenzy seemed to end , a huge surprise that doesn’t allow us to exactly reproduce the how or why or when, Isaac Delgado is on stage: the Chevere de la Salsa, singing to a Cuban audience as he used to do.
Then, more than a reporter questioned the knowledge transmitted by the academy, the tricks learned in the newsroom with experienced reporters: What is the news, how to start the first paragraph?, What do to condense all in the small space of a first page? Hours have passed as well as sleep, but still the question remains but it can no longer wait, we must take risks and propose a version of the facts. If readers believe no matter how many times they read different recounts of the concert, they are still not enough to reconstruct the long night, on behalf of the guild we will have to apologize for the difficulty a trade finds in a few lines to dissect the strange way in which, not one, but a triad of words, say it all: good Cuban music.