Thursday, March 20, 2008

Celebrando: Miguel Chappottín Beltrán

Miguel Chappottín Beltrán
photographed in Centro Habana, 22 Feb 2008
(Photo Credit: Barry Cox)

One of our favorite rumberos, Miguel Chappottín Beltrán, turned 81 today, and we send him our best wishes for many more, y que sigue rumbeando.

María del Carmen Mestas, in her great book "Pasión de Rumbero" tells us:

Miguel was born [March 20, 1927] in a little solar at Picota y Merced, in Havana Vieja. He has a renowned name in music, since his father [Miguel Chappottín Batísta] was a famous sonero,

Miguel Chappottín Batísta, c. 1989
still from the film "¿Quién Baila Aqui?" by Élio Ruiz

and regarding his uncle Félix [Chappottín, b. 31 March 1909; d. 1983], no one has yet been able to take the title from this great trumpeter, the most famous within son, because he created an original style.

Chappottín was with Las Estrellas Amalianas, together with the Izquierdo brothers — Los Pellos, as they were called — and the singers Julio Embale and Roberto Carillo.

Julio Embale, November 1985
still taken from video by Lisbet Tellefsen, et al.

Miguel Chappottín c. 1965 (?)
Photo Credit: María del Cármen Mestas, "Pasión de Rumbero"

Later he was with Clave y Guaguancó, which he directed after the death of Mario Alán, and included Flor de Amor, Gustavo Martínez, Gloria Mora, Malanga and the dancer Mercedes Alfonso...

"It was a great idea that Argeliers León had, to recreate the most authentic music of the genre; the repertoire was of extremely old songs."

Video of Clave y Guaguancó from Cuban TV Special. Víctor Quesada "Tatín" on quinto;
Alfredo Gomes Paula "El Niño" on caja; Gustavo Martines "Cucharas" on guagua,
Gloria Mora and Rito Ramón Ordoñez Peraza "Mongo el Villano" in the coro,
and Miguel Chappottín as solista.

"I went to the ports very young, where I gained a great family, I worked in various positions until I made it to overseer. There I had the pleasure of meeting Chori
[Jacinto Scull], Chan [Juan Campos Cárdenas]...very happily we started the group Guaguancó Marítimo Portuario Zona 5. Our inspiration was [Calixto] Callava, as he would be later with Yoruba Andabo.

On the future of rumba, Miguel says:

"I'm afraid that this rhythm, so cuban, will be lost, and I say that with reason. I see that there are magnificent percussionists and dancers; in this this future is assured; now, where are the singers? I have been asking myself that for some time, and...I still haven't found an answer. We old folks are falling by the wayside, and it pains me to think that this music won't continue its development, because it is part of the heart of the people."

So come on people, go learn to sing a rumba today for Chappottín!

We conclude with an excerpt of a recent conversation we recorded between Chappottín and El Goyo, in Centro Habana. Chappottín reminisces about hearing Chano Pozo singing duets with Miguelito Valdés, and about his father, who was also a renowned Abakuá singer.

Remembering the old songs, he says they were often about the different barrios of Havana. Then he sings:

Dicen que en Jesús María
Hay una comparsa
Que tocan tambores
Cantamos, tocamos tambores
Para que la gente baile
¿Bueno y qué?
¿Bueno y qué?
¿Qué le hacemos a eso?
Nosotros los Amalianos señores
Sabemos divertirnos
Por eso los invitamos
Para que vengan a rumbear
A mi Amalia

Mi guaguancó, respeta todo aquellos que
guarden la forma y...
no dé lugar a mi canto

Pero porqué mi guaguancó
Es dulce sublime melodioso y...
¡Como pica!

Ya pueden decirlo así
Aqui se cierra el colegio
De los buenos cantadores...
Guaguancó óyelo bien!

Then El Goyo remembers a song he learned from Chappottín's father:

La noche está como el dia
dentro del cuarto Famba
todo se vuelve alegria
porque ha llegado el Morua
¡Akaman yusongo!
Bongo butame aranani kakua
mokuba afe afe
embori akua
Isue Eribo yaprofa ñongontemio,
sito awarariansa, Awana Bakoko Yamba,
Kanfioro Nankuko, Biabanga Efo
Embere mambere embere, efi efo
Embere mambere embere, efi efo

Marcha: Erume erume indio Abakua Awana Bakoko Yamba

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Celebrando: Juan de Dios Ramos

Juan de Dios (third from right) preparing to dance columbia at
El Palenque del Conjunto Folklórico Nacional c. 1980
(Photo Courtesy of Gregório Hernández Rios)

Juan de Dios Ramos Morejón "El Colo" was born March 08, 1935 in barrio Lawton, Havana. In 1961 he formed part of the rumba group Los Tercios Modernos, and also Sicamarié, directed by Luis Chacón, and in Mambo Chambo, directed by Lacho Rivero.

In 1975 he formed his own folkloric ensemble, Raices Profundas, which was featured in the 1993 documentary "Rumba, Rum and the Problem of Staying Alive."

Here is some great footage shot in 2001 by Lisa Knauer at the peña at La Cueva del Humo.

Juan is accompanied by Guillermo "El Negro" Triana, and Luis Chacón also makes an appearance at the beginning. They do a medley of "Solo mi Arte" and "La Viola." Enjoy.

Que ya la rumba se formó (¡Guaguancó!)
Ya la rumba se formó
en este lugar sagrado
Es por eso que yo canto
Este lindo guaguancó
La rumba más celestial (¡Guaguancó!)
La rumba más celestial
de los dominios de Apolo
es un elemento sólo
De un concierto universal
Ella no tiene rival (¡Guaguancó!)
Ella no tiene rival
por lo bello y lo fecundo
Si en este grandioso mundo
no se ha visto cosa igual

Solo mi arte sublime yo adoraba
Solo mi arte sublime yo adoraba
Mi afán era tan solo
Sentir las notas
Que armoniosas me inspiraban
Recordando que podía pensar en ti

Yo quiero saber cuál es
El instrumento más sonoro de la vida

¿Será la viola de Homero?
No, señor
¿Será la viola de Otelo?
No, señor
¿O será la viola de Colón?
No, no no no, no no no no

No, hombre, no
No te metas con poema
Porque mi poema es
El gran ilustre del canto
Métese con Francisco
Con Juan Pablo o con Callava
Porque estos son
Los que te pueden contestar

No te metas con poema
Porque mi poema es
El gran ilustre del canto

Coro: Carabalí, Congo Rea’, e