30 diciembre 2010

La canción de la semana #247

During this year, I was busy fixing some broken links on this blog. (Lots of them remain, so be patient.) we7, the UK-based free music streaming service (co-founded by Peter Gabriel), was a great help.

But things are always changing on the internet. we7 still provides music for free; however, now you have to register with it to hear more than 30-second previews. Alternatively, to keep on listening, you can allow we7 to interact with your Facebook account. Am I only one who is annoyed by this?

Still, I think it is a great service. Thanks to we7, I discovered some great music and great musicians. Such as Lou Pérez (1928—2005). Which brings us to the last song of 2010: El Baile Suavito by Lou Pérez y Su Charanga, from 1961 album Para la Fiesta Voy.

25 diciembre 2010

La canción de la semana #246

...is La Placita performed by Guaco, a gaita and salsa band from Maracaibo, Venezuela. ¡Feliz Navidad!

La Placita by Guaco on Grooveshark
Que bella está La Placita de alegrías y oraciones
Los poetas y cantores le cantan las mañanitas.
A nuestra Santa Chinita, la reina de mis amores.

Que bella está La Placita de alegrías y oraciones
Los poetas y cantores le cantan las mañanitas.
A nuestra Santa Chinita, la reina de mis amores.
Contigo siempre estará mi angustia y mi frenesí,
Para cantarte nací, Virgen de Chiquinquirá.

Para ti bella y preciosa, aquí estoy con mis amores,
Como todos los cantores que trajo tu olor a rosa.


Te pido con ansiedad, virgen de mi devoción,
Que me des la bendición y vigiles tú mi ciudad.

He venido de muy lejos, para ofrecerte Chinita,
Una estrofa caraqueña que me quedó bien bonita.


Es noche de luna llena, Maracaibo es una nota
Gran alegría nos brota en templetes y verbenas.

Es primera vez que canto esta bien tradicional
Para mi es un orgullo cantarle a Chiquinquirá.


Los poetas y cantores, de la capital invitan
A bailar en la placita al ritmo de los tambores.

El Catatumbo y su luz, que ilumina a los zulianos
Bendiga al pueblo cristiano junto al niñito Jesús.


23 diciembre 2010

Things to do next year

I am not aware of any salsa classes in Saffron Walden. Luckily, Cambridge is not that far away. Udoka and Nunchi of Salsa T. offer Cuban-style salsa classes for beginners and improvers. The Monday evening classes are now at Mill Road Baptist Church (starting 10 January 2011); the Wednesday lunch break classes continue at The Centre at St Paul's (from 12 January).

Please note the new timetable of zumba classes with Luisa. Since January 2011, there won't be Tuesday classes at the Lord Butler Leisure Centre any longer. However, there will be classes in Stansted House, Shire Hill, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The classes at Clavering, Dame Bradbury's School, Great Chesterford and Newport continue as before.

If you missed Chico & Rita (and the chances are you did, given that it was screened only in a handful of theatres in the UK), you can catch it in Saffron Screen on 14 February 2011. (And it's still earlier than its official release in Spain!) Featuring voices of Eman Xor Oña, Limara Meneses and Estrella Morente, original soundtrack by Bebo Valdés as well as compositions by jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Cole Porter, this animation must be a treat for all Latin music lovers. In the meantime, go to Chico & Rita website and enjoy the music!

12 diciembre 2010

La canción de la semana #244

...is Española Kolo by the New Mexican outfit A Hawk and a Hacksaw. The song's title refers to Española, a town in New Mexico, and kolo, a Balkan circle dance. Española Kolo appears on the band's forthcoming album, Cervantine. The name of the band itself is a deliberate (if not particularly obvious) misquote from Cervantes's Don Quixote.

08 diciembre 2010

Zumba en Saffron Walden

By now everybody knows that New Year resolutions do not work. And why should they? Let's face it, dieting makes you feel either hungry or guilty or both at the same time, while going to gym is plain boring. Check what The Lazy Person's Guide to Life says about sport in general (if it is not too much work, that is).

Is anyone still reading this blog and, in particular, this post? Good. Here's my two-pronged advice to you, my reader:
  1. Forget the gym.
  2. Don't wait until New Year. Start having fun now.
In this latter endeavour, you can do worse than trying a Zumba class. Colombian Alberto "Beto" Pérez invented this dance fitness workout whatever program in 1990s and called it "Rumbacize". This name, apparently, mutated to "Zumba". (There is a town in Ecuador called Zumba but I don't know how or whether it is connected to Zumba the dance thing.) It doesn't matter if you never danced in your life. You don't have to be fit to do Zumba. You don't even have to want to be fit. All you need is the right attitude: Ditch the workout, Join the party! — hey, probably first ever corporate slogan I like. I'd write more if I were on their payroll, but I am not, so let's move to Saffron Walden bit.

If you live in Saffron Walden area, drop in one of the classes with Luisa Curbelo. She comes from Venezuela and, believe me, she knows her Latin rhythms. In 60 minutes, you'll get your weekly load of calypso, cumbia, flamenco, merengue, reggaeton, salsa, samba (not necessarily in this order) with a dash of belly dancing and a healthy helping of bhangra. Also, you have a chance brush up your Spanish. What are you waiting for? Check the timetable and go!

P.S. Don't forget to bring a pair of comfy sport shoes, some sort of tracksuit, a towel (you'll be sweating, I promise) and a bottle of water.

21 noviembre 2010

La canción de la semana #241

...is Lua Nova by the Galician band Mutenrohi. According to the band's website,
Mutenrohi es una de las bandas de folk más internacionales, su música contiene elementos que combinan la tradición y cultura gallega con un sonido céltico, moderno y actual.
So it is.

07 octubre 2010

El premio Nobel de literatura 2010

El premio Nobel de literatura 2010 ha sido otorgado al escritor peruano Mario Vargas Llosa
"por su cartografía de las estructuras del poder y sus afiladas imágenes de la resistencia, rebelión y derrota del individuo".

03 octubre 2010

La canción de la semana #234

Dmitri Mamontov (Дмитрий Мамонтов) was an immensely talented flamenco guitarist from Moscow. Sadly, he died in 2002. I saw him playing live only once, about twenty years ago — he was busking on Arbat! In late 1980s / early 1990s, he was appearing reasonably often on Soviet television. You'd expect a lot of video clips of that era to be found on the web, but alas, no such luck. YouTube has four videos of Mamontov, all of dismal quality. One day, I hope, somebody will unearth better recordings of him and commit it to cyberspace. In the meantime, I hope you still can enjoy Dmitri's rendition of Monti's Csárdás.

28 agosto 2010

La canción de la semana #229

The words "que sera, sera" in the song of the same name may be Spanish but the phrase makes no sense. According to Wikipedia,
Composer Jay Livingston had seen the 1954 film The Barefoot Contessa, in which an Italian family has the motto "Che sarà sarà" carved in stone at their ancestral castle. He immediately wrote it down as a possible song title, and he and lyricist Ray Evans later respelled it in Spanish "because there are so many Spanish-speaking people in the world."
Ironically, the phrase "Che sarà sarà" is also ungrammatical in modern Italian.

Back to Spanish: this week's song (not related to Que Sera, Sera) is... Qué Será (audio | video | lyrics) by the Puerto Rican legend José Feliciano.

08 agosto 2010

La canción de la semana #227

At some point of Toy Story 3, the toys discover another — Spanish-speaking! — personality of Buzz Lightyear. But what happens in Spanish-language version? As you can hear, "reset" Buzz (normally voiced by José Luis Gil) still speaks Spanish but with thick Andalucian accent. Buzz's "flamenco-mode" voice was provided by the famous singer Diego El Cigala. This week's song is En esta tarde gris from his latest album, Cigala & Tango.

01 agosto 2010

22 julio 2010

Bodegón Don Jamón

3.07.2010. After our plane landed in Arrecife, we spent a ten minutes or so just standing in the aisle. It was then when a fellow passenger addressed me: "Do you know you are bleeding?"

No I did not know. Apparently, I cut a finger on my right hand when searching for something in my bag. (As I've discovered later, my "safe" razor was in that pocket waiting for me.) Another helpful English lady presented me with a stripe of Elastoplast.

A few hours later, I went for a stroll in Puerto del Carmen along Avenida de las Playas. The streets were empty, maybe because everybody was watching footie (Germany destroying Argentina). The guy standing in front of Bodegón Don Jamón called to me. "Good afternoon, sir, would you like to try some of these?" These looked delicious and yes, I did like them. "What about a sip of wine?" Ditto. Can't remember what it was, some dry Spanish wine, but it made a job of convincing me to have my lunch then and there. I asked for baby squids, grilled peppers and a beer. It was heaven.

Or so I thought until I noticed that the bleeding has resumed. I made a good use of servilletero but the pile of blood-stained paper on my table kept growing. The waiter approached and carefully enquired if everything was OK. I said that I cut my finger but it is nothing really and not their restaurant's fault. The waiter looked unconvinced. He went to the kitchen and reappeared with the following:
  • agua oxigenada (hydrogen peroxide solution)
  • tintura de yodo (tincture of iodine)
  • venda de gasa (gauze bandage)
  • tira adhesiva (sticking plaster)
It did not seem that he knew the business of treating wounds very well though because the chef took over. Now that's what I call a professional service! In a few minutes, I was back behind my table finishing off the tapas and another beer.

To summarise: yummy food for a very reasonable prices and a free medical treatment for a wounded Ryanair passenger.

27 junio 2010

La canción de la semana #221

...is famous Caballo Viejo by Venezuelan composer and singer Simón Díaz. About a zillion versions of this song were recorded, but these are my personal favourites:

19 junio 2010

La canción de la semana #220

...is Valió la Pena (audio|video|lyrics) by Marc Anthony, from the album of the same name (the Best Salsa Album at the 2005 Latin Grammy Awards). To quote allmusic guide,

With the screaming hot brass and relentlessly sexy percussion to match the love-crazed lyrics, and the love-crazed lyrics to match Anthony's screaming hot vocals and relentlessly sexy improvisation, Valió la Pena captures the drama and excitement palpable in New York's best salsa clubs.

16 mayo 2010

La canción de la semana #215

Just voice and double bass: Alfonsina y El Mar performed by Israeli jazz bassist and singer Avishai Cohen. This song appears on Cohen's latest album, Aurora.

29 abril 2010

La canción de la semana #213

El Carretero by Guillermo Portables was made famous by Buena Vista Social Club. However, my favourite version is the one by Alex Cuba. Awesome! (And I love the little dance the band performs between 4:30 and 5:00.)
A caballo vamos pa'l monte, a caballo vamos pa'l monte
A caballo vamos pa'l monte, a caballo vamos pa'l monte.

26 abril 2010

Jardín de Cactus

We went to Guatiza to see this beautiful cactus garden designed by César Manrique. It is a beautiful place.

Jardín de Cactus IJardín de Cactus IV
Jardín de Cactus VJardín de Cactus II
Jardín de Cactus IIIJardín de Cactus VI
Jardín de Cactus VIIJardín de Cactus VIII

Usually, public conveniences (aseos) in Spain are designated caballeros, hombres or señores for men and damas, mujeres or señoras for women. But not there, as you can see:


07 abril 2010

La canción de la semana #211

...is Se Me Hizo Fácil, performed by Concha Buika and Cuban jazz legend Chucho Valdés. This song is taken from El Último Trago, Buika & Chucho's homage to Chavela Vargas (recorded last year on occasion of her 90th anniversary). A wonderful album.

En este homenaje tan acertado y emocionante, Buika muestra una Chavela afrocubana y jazzificada, por obra y gracia de un acompañante de excepción, Chucho Valdés y su grupo.

A Buika y a Chucho les une África, y Cuba palpita en cada una de las teclas del pianista, tan ecléctico como la intérprete.

Viendo como Concha se acerca a la copla, el tango, las bulerías, el bolero, la música cubana y el jazz, digiriendo y mezclando todos los géneros de un modo tan espontáneo y magistral, uno piensa que el futuro no puede ser tan malo como parece, mientras podamos ser testigos de la evolución riquísima de esta intérprete infinita.

01 abril 2010

La canción de la semana #210

This week's issue of The Big Issue features an interview with Shakira, where the sexy goddess talks about her childhood, her charity involvement, her singing at the Barack Obama Inauguration, and her work on the new (long overdue) Spanish-language album. Yes! I am looking forward to it. In the meantime, the deservedly record-breaking duo with Alejandro Sanz: La Tortura, from her last Spanish album, Fijación Oral Vol. 1.

28 marzo 2010

La canción de la semana #209

This song was performed by Louis Armstrong, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Fania All-Stars and Bebo Valdés, to name just a few. According to Wikipedia, El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor), written by Moisés Simons, "is possibly the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician." Since its first performance by Rita Montaner in 1928, El Manisero has been recorded more than 160 times! Perhaps the best known version is the one by Don Azpiazú and his Havana Casino Orchestra, featuring Antonio Machín.

28 febrero 2010

La canción de la semana #205

Quizás, quizás, quizás was the first Spanish song we were learning in our Beginner Spanish class, back in 2002. The song was written by Cuban Osvaldo Farrés in 1947. Since then, innumerable cover versions were recorded. Here's a short list of my favourite interpretations:
Siempre que te pregunto
Que, cuándo, cómo y dónde
Tú siempre me respondes
Quizás, quizás, quizás

Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás

Estás perdiendo el tiempo
Pensando, pensando
Por lo que más tú quieras
¿Hasta cuándo? ¿Hasta cuándo?

Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás

07 febrero 2010

La canción de la semana #202

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido was written by Sergio Ortega and Quilapa‎yún just a couple months before the September 11, 1973 Chilean military coup. The best-known song of Ortega, it became an anthem of popular resistance worldwide. The song also inspired modern composers and jazzmen, such as Frederic Rzewski (36 piano variations) and Charlie Haden (The People United Will Never Be Defeated from The Ballad of the Fallen).
De pie, cantar
que vamos a triunfar.
Avanzan ya
banderas de unidad.
Y tú vendrás
marchando junto a mí
y así verás
tu canto y tu bandera florecer,
la luz
de un rojo amanecer
anuncia ya
la vida que vendrá
(Complete lyrics)

31 enero 2010

La canción de la semana #201

Angélique Kidjo sings in many languages: English, Fon, French, Swahili, Yoruba... She is yet to record a song in Spanish, and when that happens, I promise, you will know from this blog. From the liner notes of her new album, Õÿö:
On Saturday nights in Cotonou, the capital of Benin where Angélique was born, a big "Bal Poussière" (dusty ball) was held. At the peak of the night, when couples would form, Santana's Samba pa ti would always be played.
So, this week we have that African classic, Samba pa ti. It is sung in Yoruba and sounds as if it was always meant to be sung by Angélique Kidjo.

24 enero 2010

La canción de la semana #200

Yes, 200th — let's celebrate! This week, it is the song I can't get out of my head: an absolutely smashing performance of Mandinga by great Rubén González (1919—2003). The refrain "quiquiribú mandinga" is identical to that in La negra Tomasa. But listen carefully and you'll hear much more. Among other songs that González quotes is Очи чёрные (at about 5:10).