La Habana, Cuba - El último paraíso


»Cuadernos de la Habana [Notebooks of Havana] is a miniature art gallery: the five CD-notebooks are diaries and sketch-pads covering slowly passing days and nights in Havana. The Italian writer and painter Mario Luis Malfatti collected souvenirs like any other tourist - bills, receipts, concert tickets, labels and beer mats - and stuck them down amongst his drawings, sketches and water-colours on the pages of old food ration books. Then he worked with the producers to create a soundtrack to match his explorations.

 

The project works like a beautiful, dreamy, heat-hazed accompaniment to a continental art film. Ingredients are drawn from unlikely sources: arrival at Central Station, street sounds, checking into a hotel, breakfast coffees, lunches, meetings, rehearsals, shows, visits to the homes of musician friends, reunions, low-key impromptu performances in homes, dropping into a children's choir rehearsal with piano... The music and ambient sounds come and go, fading into the background as Malfatti gets lost in painting, and rising as he turns from his pad and listens. We follow his ears and eyes.

 

The blind jazz-cocktail pianist Frank Emilio Flynn, an old friend, frequently painted and visited, is the best-known musician, a stirring, romantic stylist. […] The samba-influenced guitar team Duo Cachibache offer a sweet afternoon interlude […]

 

If you are beginning to wonder how much more Cuban traditional music the market can tolerate, this collection makes you realize that it depends on presentation and imagination. The set contains many old songs made familiar by the Buena Vista Social Club and others such as […] the smoochy danzón 'El bombin de Baretto' [about someone's flashy new bowler hat, written in the late 1890s]. Even if you drift off and return to the paintings, the turn of an ankle, the angle of the wrist of a maracas player, the pout of a guajiro-singer's lips, the bend of the plucking finger of a son guitarist, all work like a silent movie and draw you back to the music. This original and thoroughly hypnotic venture has refreshed my palate and stirred that physical need to be submerged in Cuban music in Cuba. And I thought this was just a good-looking CD I was reviewing!«

- Written [excerpt] by Sue Stewart in Songlines about the 5 CD box set Cuadernos de la Habana [910 030-2] by Winter&Winter.

 

 

Finally Mario Luis Malfatti has selected his favourite songs from his musical notebooks Cuadernos de la Habana and with this outstanding material he produced the new audiofilm El último paraíso, nearly 70 minutes long. This new album contains the highlights of his journey to Havana featuring unreleased songs by Dúo Enigma and the debut of the group Trío Enserie. El último paraíso is a really fascinating and entertaining trip to Havana with Caribbean and South-American sounds played by the Dúo Cachibache, traditional son and cuban songs by Trío Tesis and music performed in a Casa de la Trova [far away from the normal tourist spots] by Roxana Brínguez [whose voice is neither trained nor spoilt by the usual singers' voices] and Manuel Suárez Silva [who sings some of his own compositions, written in the style called here »filin«]. Malfatti gives this album the title El último paraíso [The last paradise] - the title of his second novel which he wrote about Cuba. He presents a personal collection of sketches and findings. They combine reality and fiction, the old and the new.

 

»Like a dagger of twisted steel

This song penetrates.«

- José Martí [the hero of Cuban Independence and Cuba's national poet of the 19th century]

 

Winter & Winter continues with El último paraíso, La Habana, Cuba the unique series of audiofilms which started with the album Venezia La Festa - featuring the coffee house orchestra of Quadri at St. Mark's Square, Au Bordel, Souvenirs de Paris -sounds from a whorehouse in Paris, Tin Pan Alley, The Sidewalks of New York -Uri Caine's time travel into the fin de siecle after North America's civil war, ¡Tango Vivo! Noches de Buenos Aires-a trip into Buenos Aires's real music world, Rä Dä Bäng, Carnival of Rhythm -drums and pipes in Switzerland.


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