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Tipico Oriental


TIPICO ORIENTAL - biography

 

Founded in Santiago de Cuba under the auspices of the celebrated singer, guitarist, band leader and composer Miguel Matamoros, whose son  records are sold all over the world, Típico Oriental performs as a trio or a quartet, as the occasion arises. Today it perpetuates the most authentic and traditional son, that of the Oriente province (capital Santiago) and, like most trios and cuartetos, it also sometimes plays guarachas and boleros.

 

Born of a fusion of Spanish and African traditions in the Oriente region, in the eastern part of the island, the son continues to enjoy exceptional vitality, and is the source of the basic rhythm of the music that today is known as salsa. Its antecedents go back to the 16th century, with the mythical group founded in Santiago de Cuba by Teodora and Micaela Ginés, two sisters from San Domingo. It took definite form at the end of the 19th century, in the area around Guantanamo, Baracoa (cradle of the tres, a guitar with three double strings characteristic of the son), Holguin, Manzanillo and Santiago. Mischievous, bucolic, lyrical or impertinent as the case may be, it celebrates the charms of nature or woman, and tells of the happenings of everyday life.

 

In Oriente, the son was first played by the trovadores (from the French "troubadour"), singers who accompanied themselves on the guitar or the tres, and by little groups known as bungas; later it was performed by larger groups, the estudiantinas (inspired by the tunas of the Spanish students) and played in the sociedades de son, clubs devoted to this musical genre. Structurally, the son consists of two parts: the son largo, which states the theme, and the montuno, with the refrain, sung by the coro (choir), over which the solos are sung. The fairly simple harmonies (tonic, sub-dominant, dominant) derive from the old Spanish romances of the Golden Age.

 

One of the characteristics of the son is the soneo, a vocal improvisation in which the singer gives free rein to his imagination and virtuosity. Sometimes it is addressed to a listener, or  it may make a humourous retort to a provocation, or a comment on some particular events. The cheeky guaracha with its more spirited tempo, which appeared in Havana in the 18th century, was originally an element in the Cuban picaresque theatre (teatro bufo), and it too provides a vivid chronicle of Cuban life. The bolero, which like the son  was born in Oriente at the beginning of the19th century, is the archetype of the Cuban romantic genre. It also has its roots in Spanish tunes, but possesses a singular tropical charm, with its underlying rhythm always distinctly marked. Its phraseology, with the spectacular way the boleristas have of drawing out or shortening phrases, has been a source of inspiration in particular to some tango singers.

 

In the early twenties, numerous Cuban musicians, attracted by the glitter of Havana, settled in the capital. Típico Oriental was to do the same, later on, but always retaining its "oriental" style. After the compositions of Miguel Matamoros, which used to form the basis of its repertoire, over the years it added songs by other authors (Ignacio Piñeiro, Abelardo Barroso, Manuel Corona, Félix Chapotin, Pedro Flores).

A native of Cienfuegos and offspring of a musical family (his cousin Guido Sarría is the conguero of the well-known Orquesta Aragón), Isidro Sarría Aristica has been leader of Típico Oriental for about fifteen years. He had previously been guitarist accompanying the duo Los Idaído (made up of the singers Ida La Guardia and Walfrido Guevara) and on his own he constitutes an extraordinary repository of memory of the son.

In this record, Típico Oriental performs as a quartet with Isidro Sarría Aristica (vocal and guitar), Félix Marrero González (tres), Rolando Romaguera Cisneros (vocal and maracas) and Hugo Valdés Giral (bongo). Listeners will appreciate the graceful, antiquated flavour of this music, and also the stunning solos on the tres - a more piquant, metallic instrument than the guitar - by Marrero González.

 

With this album, Típico Oriental brings us an anthology of original songs composed by  its leader, Isidro Sarría Aristica. Love is the predominant theme in all its aspects: ardent in Déjame soñar, bitter and resigned in Huyendo de tí, lonely in Refúgiate en mí, filled with hope in Eterna melodía, poetic and refined in Nadie, based on the verses of Nicolás Guillén, tender in No dudes, nostalgic in Diálogo, lyrical in Habla el Amor and Por tus cosas, passionate in Sublime Sacrificio.

Ensalada de sones brings us a pot-pourri of celebrated sounds from the past, including Olvido (by Miguel Matamoros), Papá Montero - an elegy in honour of a legendary rumba musician - and Caballero, silencio, one of Sexteto Habanero's first great hits. The song Canto a Benny Moré, by Rolando Romaguera, pays homage to that formidable sonero of the fifties (nicknamed El Bárbaro del ritmo).

This is an irresistible, authentic music, uncontaminated by the commercial virus that has debilitated so many contemporary pieces. "Arise and dance!" the Good Samaritan would doubtless have said, if he had heard Típico Oriental.

 

 

Típico Oriental « ETERNA MELODIA » - CD Lusafrica 262582


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