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Se llama sabroso - ZONA FRANKA

The Roots of Timba - Part II - ¡Encendiendo la candela!

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The single Aquí se enciende la candela never appeared on any of the original LVV studio LPs, but it was a giant leap forward from Volume I and demonstrated many extraordinary qualities that wouldn't become common practice until the 90s. Los Van Van still plays it as the opening of their Popurrí arrangment, and a great new timba arrangement was recorded by Juan Ceruto and Michel Maza in 1997 on the Gracias Formell album. The New York salsa band Típica 73 had a very successful cover version in the 70s, and last but not least, there was a very nice Cuban hip-hop version in the late 90s by a group I've yet to identify.

1972? Los Van Van - Aquí se enciende la candela (EPA-6281A)
xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0
2-3 rumba clave
xxx0 xxxx xxxx xxxx kick
0xxx 0xx0 x0x0 x00x

0xxx 0xx0 x0x0 x0x0
tumbao 1 -- MIDI
bass: Juan Formell - drums: José Luis "Changuito" Quintana
source: 25 Años

notes: This bass tumbao "sings", as Arsenio would say, in such a memorable way that it literally becomes the "hook" of the song. To put it another way, if someone asked you how La candela goes, you would sing "bum ... bum ... bum-bum-bum bum-bum ... bum ... bum ... la candela!". The bass tumbao is the catchiest and most memorable part of the song. In terms of x's and 0's, the rhythm follows the standard template established on the first album: the downbeat of the two side, the clave accents, and (every other time) the ponche of the 3-side. But the kick drum is what most clearly establishes this recording as being after Changuito's arrival. Remember that Blas Egües played the kick on the downbeat of the 2-side. Changuito explains in the video that his first alteration was to move it to the bombos, but here, he goes a step further and plays it on only one bombo. You'd expect that it would be the bombo that lines up with the clave, but it's the other one! In other words, the kick drum plays "contraclave". Again, we'll resist getting too far ahead of ourselves, but take careful note that here, in 1972 or before, Changuito is establishing a practice which would become a crucial element of timba over twenty years later. For now, just listen, and if you have the patience, learn to play and/or sing each clave and kick combination.

xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0 2-3 rumba clave
0xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx Blas Egües' kick pattern ("downbeat of 2-side")
xxx0 xxxx xxx0 xxxx Changuito's first alteration ("both bombos")
xxx0 xxxx xxxx xxxx La candela ("bombo of the 2-side")

Many of Juan Formell's earliest compositions (e.g. Marilú, Yuya Martínez, etc.), sound odd whether you think of them as a sudden departure from earlier Cuban music, or as the unlikely predecessors of the hard driving songo and timba normally associated with Los Van Van, but La candela is another story entirely. Like the recordings of Arsenio Rodríguez twenty years earlier, it's like a bolt of lightning on a moonless night, suddenly and dramatically illuminating the future landscape of Cuban music. Our second excerpt begins with a bit of the first tumbao, and then the bass drops out, a device which would become the most powerful tool of timba arrangers. The violin guajeo comes in alone, as a timba piano tumbao might, and the striking harmonization in the lower strings turns the passage into another instrumental "hook". Next come the keyboards and bass with a counter-melody, followed by percussion bloques and the entrance of a coro, based on the violin melody. Next the keyboards, bass and guitar play the same figure, motivo style, joined by the coro for the last 3 notes of each phrase.

In our third excerpt the bass and percussion drop out to expose only the coro and a keyboard tumbao that was literally decades ahead of its time. This moment, and the electrifying bloque-laden buildup that follows it, are a dramatic prophecy of the 1990s. Los Van Van didn't continue this approach very aggressively and even their timba era music uses "gears" much less than most timba bands, but in La candela we have, in 1972, in all its glory, an inspired application of several of timba's most compelling arranging concepts.

La Candela's B-side was a song called Mis dudas. The original version, sung as a bolero by Juan Formell himself, is unknown to most Van Van fans, who are more likely to be familiar with the up-tempo 1990 version, sung by Mayito Valdés, or the 1997 timba version from Gracias Formell, arranged by Juan Ceruto and sung by Mayito Rivera. Michel Maza sang La candela on the same album.

La candela - 1997 J. Ceruto version - vocal: Michel Maza (source)

Mis dudas - original 1972 bolero version - vocal: Juan Formell

Mis dudas - 1990 songo version - vocal: Mayito Rivera (source)

Mis dudas - 1997 J. Ceruto version - vocal: Mayito Rivera (source)

Before continuing with Van Van's first run of hit singles, we have to stop and introduce our third band. Shortly after La candela (or possibly shortly before), another bolt of lightning struck Havana's airwaves and dance halls, matching Candela's driving minor key fury and prophetic arranging innovations. The song was Bacalao con pan, the first recording of Irakere.

lunes, 10 marzo 2014, 02:53 am