Lágrimas Negras, Yellow House Salon #12

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Still dreaming of adventures in Cuba.  Today, a post featuring Lágrimas Negras (black tears), a traditional Cuban Bolero written by Miguel Matamoros. My group learned this piece under the instruction of a wonderful voice teacher at the havana music school.

The bolero, in two parts, opens with a slow lament. The singer has been abandoned and suffers immense pain. She sobs black tears over her lover’s  transgressions. The second half picks up as she decides to suffer no more.  Above, my recording, a piano arrangement of Lágrimas Negras.

 

Don’t miss these three different takes on Lágrima Negras:

Cuban Singer/Guitarist with Cuban footage

American Cuban Songstress, Celia Cruz

Cuban piano master Bebo Valdés and  flamenco cantador, Dieguito El Cigala

Please visit Weeks 9, 10, and 11  for more on my Cuban adventures.

Obini Bata, (Yellow House Salon #11)

 

IMG_0573Obini Bata is a government sponsored bata drumming and performance group. In fact, this is the first group of women in Cuba to play Yoruba drums professionally, a role typically reserved for men. Bata drums are hourglass-shaped drums played in a group of three.

Yoruban music has African origins, Nigerian, to be exact.  This music and dance were originally used in religious ceremonies. The leader of Obini Bata, a former principal ballarina, tells us the group strives to portray Yoruban music and dance as a cultural art without religious implications.

The group has performed all over Cuba and Nigeria. The performers rehearse 4-8  hours every day in their bare bones studio in a crumbling building in the Central District of Havana. Our visit includes a powerful private performance of singing, drumming, and dancing. The women also conduct a workshop for my  group where we try our hand at Yoruba drumming (much harder than it looks), sing a  Yoruban song, and dance in long white skirts.

For more about my adventures in Cuba, please visit week #9 and week#10 of the Yellow House Salon.

 performance and documentary  footage of Obini Bata  (en español)

Rumba! (Yellow House Salon #10)

Today’s recording is a video of Rumba dancers and musicians taken at El Gran Palenque. (Havana, Cuba)

 

Rumba! Locals are packed in at El Gran Palenque in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba.  It’s a rumba fiesta and all generations are represented in this lively party under the hot Havana sun.

Rumba is a Cuban dance accompanied by a live band. The musicians (rumberos), include a lead  singer and percussion. There are three sizes of drums (trumbadoras) and smaller percussion instruments including claves (two hollow sticks struck together),  a  catá (a small hollow trunk mounted on a stand and struck with two sticks), and sometimes a type of gourd shaker (a gourd covered with a netting of beads).

There are different styles of Rumba including  the guaguancó, the columbia, and the yambú.  The guanguancó is danced by couples and has a courting element where the man pretends to kick the woman between the legs and the woman quickly covers herself to avoid  his advances. The  Columbia is a solo dance for males while the  yambú is for older people, often accompanied by a cajón, or box drum.

Yellow House Salon #2 Wayfaring Stranger

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Fueled by a sunny Seattle day, an invigorating yoga class, a stop for coffee, and a bouquet of fresh flowers,  I  headed home to record episode #2 of Yellow House Salon.  Two and 1/2 hours later here it is.

Today’s episode is two recordings based on the traditional folk song, Wayfaring Stranger. This song has a beautiful, longing melody with words that speak of our journey through life. Walking through my wonderful Wedgwood neighborhood, I don’t feel like a stranger, on the contrary, I feel a great sense of belonging and contentment.  That aside,  here are  my two takes on Wayfaring Stranger.

Laura singing/playing guitar Wayfaring Stranger, Traditional

Laura playing Wayfaring Stranger from American Ballads by Roy Harris.