WITF radio: John Clare - Music Programmer/Host
ET: Ernesto Tamayo - The Cuban Guitarist
Cuban guitarist Ernesto Tamayo has released his third album "The Cuban Guitarist," and it was the program he played at the Fulton Opera House, Lancaster, PA , on September 30th of 2005. The first concert of his tour "The Cuban Guitarist".
WITF: Ernesto, congratulations on your new recording "The Cuban Guitarist". I see that you have on this album Cuban music, as well as classical composers, and your own compositions. It is a mix of styles, tell us about that.
ET: Usually, classical musicians today release CDs with programs that feature one composer or one style of music (myself included), which brings a lot of satisfaction to the artists and some classical music fans because we see it as a serious project. Sometimes, mixing styles in an extreme way could be a double ache soar, but the general audience wants to listen to a variety of music. So I have advocated many different styles of music, from popular to classical, since I was a boy. This recording is a magnificent opportunity to compile a unique selection of works, featuring popular and exotic Cuban tunes, as well as pieces from the baroque and romantic repertory of the classical guitar.
WITF: The recording begins with three Cubans tunes, "Cachita", "La Batea", and "Y Tu que has hecho," talk to us about these selections:
ET: Well, Cachita is a wonderful piece originally arranged by Cuban guitarist Vicente Gonzales Rubiera (Guyun). I never found the original score of this arrangement so I end up rearranging the piece again based in what I remember. On this piece I combined jazz progressions, as well as percussive sounds that brings the flavor of our wonderful culture a live. "La Batea" which is the next piece is my arrangement of a theme my mother used to sign while doing laundry back in Cuba. This version is for two guitars and I play both of them on the recording. "Y tu que has hecho", what a piece, again, jazz progression, beautiful melody throughout which I could say it sounds exotic to me, even though the lyrics of this song talk about a conversation between a tree and a young woman.
WITF: Why Bach? Why the First Cello Suite? Why you didn't play the whole thing?
ET: Bach is my favorite composer. My first recording was a complete Bach CD, that is how much I love the men. I connect with him very easily. His music is unique and directed to the human spirit. The First Cello Suite is a gorges piece. I learned this piece when I was eleven years old. I always wanted to play it again. I did two presentations in New York back in February before my car accident, where I shared the stage with Cuban songwriter Juan-Carlos Formell. It was a very informal presentation. I was playing for a while and I needed to play a little be more and the First Cello Suite came to my mind. I played only three movements, and the audience love the combination of these movements with the rest of the program. The idea for the recording and the Bach selection was born that evening in New York.
WITF: You just mentioned a car accident, what happened?
ET: The car accident was an interest event. I took sometime off so I became an instrument-rated pilot. I have played the guitar since I was a five-year-old boy. After my thirty's birthday I wanted to do something different for a while. The day of the accident was weird. I was kind of elevated, and very spiritual. After rolling over for about four times and realizing that nothing happened to me that day, not even an scratch I noted that I was during a re-invention period, and that the period was over. So I came back to the studio, recorded this project, and my life as a guitarist came back to normal. I still flight my airplane, and I will do it all my life, but not as much now.
WITF: Let's talk about "The Havana Suite" and "Five Inspirations". They are the two world premiere recordings on your CD. I didn't know you could write music!
ET: "The Havana Suite" is a group of pieces that Aldo Rodriguez wrote back
in Cuba around 1980. Actually, they are part of a guitar method he wrote also for his students. His brother Antonio Rodriguez (Biki) was my teacher and introduced these pieces and the whole method to me while I was a boy. These pieces are simple and beautiful. During the recording process I recorded about fifteen of Aldo's pieces. My friend Blair and John who were involved with me on this project helped me to choose and organized them in one big piece. I thought about a name, and I contacted Antonio Rodriguez
(Biki) who is living in Mexico. After Biki's approval, I came back to the studio one day, opened the microphones and I started recording melodies, and chords on top of what I already recorded. We were all having fun, enjoying ourselves, and that is how "The Havana Suite" was accomplished. In regard to "Five Inspirations", I have to say that I don't consider myself a composer even though I studied composition in Cuba with Leo Brouwer and Carlos Fariñas. I am a musician that sometimes I get inspired by love, nature, friends, and other aspects of life. It is for me another way of communicating something from the inside.
WITF: How challenging was it recording the Tárrega pieces? I love the Recuerdos de la Alhambra, but not only is it difficult, there are many other recordings, what is new on your recording?
ET: Well, Recuerdos de la Alhambra is a demanding piece. Even though we have today the technology available to edit, to mix, to create effects, and so on, I wanted for this piece, and for the whole recording a different approach. I practiced this piece a lot before the recording session. I know how to practice well, and that is a plus for what I wanted to accomplished, but I end up recording this piece many times because I didn't want my engineers to edit the work. What is new on this recording? Well, the guitar sounds a little closer than other recordings I have heard of this particular piece, natural guitar reverb, so it is easy to understand the tremolo and the continuo bass throughout the piece, and the final contribution is my feelings for this piece, which I love dearly.
WITF: I understand that you have created your own company - that it is distributing and producing your recordings, as well as the concerts. Tell us more about that.
ET: Yes, the music industry has changed a lot within the last few years. I had a contract with a record label a few years ago that went out of business, and today companies in business don't really work so well in behalf to the artist. In addition I came from Cuba a few years ago and my father always wanted a business in Cuba. He was not able to accomplish that because of Castro's regime, so here was my opportunity. I got inspired by my father to create my own business. We are a team of four people who are best friends, love to work together, and enjoy a good coffee. It does not get better than that I think.
WITF: Ernesto, thank you so very much...
ET: Thank you for your time John, and I hope to get together soon.