Tell us about your latest album, Sandunga! with the Cuban Guitar Quartet. How did it come about?
Through a phone conversation. Ahmed Dickinson and I were on tour in the UK. One day we were walking around London, the phone rang, and it turned out to be Iliana Matos. She called us because she knew we were together. We started talking about when we were going to get together, and then she said, “Why don’t we record your music for four guitars? There’s Ahmed, Galy and me. We could record all the quartets!”. It was as surprising as it was enjoyable. So, I immediately called Galy, and she was very happy. Everybody was delighted. In the end, I felt like I was the guest. They came up with the idea, and together we took it forward.
How has the workflow been in this project?
I have played as a duo with Ahmed, Iliana and Galy separately. Besides, the three of them have played a lot of my music, individually and with other musicians, in different formats: flute and guitar, voice and guitar, etc. They have a vast knowledge of my music. They are even more ready to play my repertoire than I am! This is the premise that has led us to be able to do this work even though we live in different places.
Could you discuss the characteristics and history of some of the works in this album?
In this album, you can find a wide diversity of contents and atmospheres. Everything follows the guidelines of the same musical aesthetics. Still, at the same time, there is quite a contrast and variety among the pieces, which responds to different moods and characters.
Thus, containing a certain natural unity, different harmonic and rhythmic approaches can be appreciated.
On the one hand, pieces related to each other are included, as is the case of Suite Habana. It consists of four movements inspired by my hometown. Two other closely related pieces are Agua y mieles and Amores de Oshún, both of which are inspired by Oshún. If we take into account cultural syncretism, it refers to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, but within the Yoruba religion, it corresponds to the goddess of love, of sweet waters, of honey, of sensuality (in other words, there is an African root that these two pieces share).
On the other hand, there are pieces like Acrílicos en el espacio, which I would define as “Latin American Baroque”. Sandunga also has all the rhythmic elements that characterise many Cuban “sones”. Others are simple and crystalline, such as Valsando and Matices de luz. And, finally, other contrasting music is included, as is the case with La trampa or Hasta Alicia baila; the well-known latter is inspired by the guaguancó, a variant of the Cuban “rumba de cajón”.
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