Sexteto y Septeto Habanero
For diehard aficionados, this is the definitive collection of one of the son's founding innovators. Septeto Habanero has for eight decades been a prime interpreter of a Cuban national heritage once dismissed as "too African." An exhaustive transcontinental search for archival recordings from the Victor catalog turned up all but two of the original 100 titles from the group's earliest work. (If you own these, Tumbao wants to hear from you.) Hence, this is an especially significant reissue, because among the many sextets of the late 1920s (e.g., Boloña, Habanero, Machin, Matancero, Munamar, Nacional, Occidente), only the seminal Habanero and Nacional are still cooking today (albeit as septets). Habanero originated in 1920 as a sextet of guitar, tres, bongó, bass, and a vocal duo on claves, maracas and güiro. The addition of cornet in 1927, and Félix Chappottín's legendary trumpet (first heard on the February 1928 tracks), created the brass signature that infuses all Cuban music, salsa and Latin popular dance.
For those come recently to Afro-Cuban music, these tracks constitute a primer on the son in the process of its stylistic shaping. Here are compositions by the founders: singer and maraca player Felipe Neri Cabrera ("Criolla Carabalí," "Guantanamo," "Sacudiendo Mis Maracas"), bassist and singer Gerardo Martínez ("Diana Habanero," "Elena La Cumbanchera," "Romántica Mujer"), tres player Carlos Godinez ("Mujeres Que Gozan," "Alza Los Pies Congo," "La Diosa") and guitarist Guillermo Castillo ("Tres Lindas Cubanas," "Mi Tres, Mi Clave y Mi Bongó"). Other influential artists heard here include clave player and singing great Abelardo Barroso, and trumpet style-setters Félix Chappottín and Enrique Hernández. Habanero also set the standard for numerous other classic compositions by songsmiths Eusebio Delfín ("Y Tú, ¿Qué Has Hecho?"), Rolando Leiva ("La Chambelona"), Eliseo Grenet ("Mama Inés"), Ignacio Piñeiro ("No Juegues Con Los Santos," "Las Cuatro Palomas," "Esas No Son Cubanas"), Miguel Matamoros ("Olvido"), Ernesto Lecuona ("Por Un Beso De Tu Boca"), Rosendo Ruiz and Carlos Valdés Brito.
The collection is attractively boxed, with an exhaustive discography, many illustrations, and a 48-page essay with musical transcriptions, archival photographs and commentary by Cuban composer, interpreter and arranger Senén Suárez. All materials are in Spanish, making this critical compilation a prime candidate for translation into English, French, German and other languages. The package represents an essential acquisition for collectors, musicians, and academic and public libraries of record. - Michael Stone
Tumbao Camarillo Music / P.O. Box 54 / CH-1291 Commugny / Switzerland
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