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About this Album
Compay Segundo's second solo release on Nonesuch, Calle Salud (Health Street), serves once again to bring the sounds of Cuban son music to an ever-growing audience. Segundo, then 93 years old, the guitarist and singer and a core member of the Grammy Award-winning Buena Vista Social Club recording, was joined for the recording by clarinetists from the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra and Havana Woodwind Quintet.
On Calle Salud, Segundo utilizes the clarinet, his instrument as a teenager, to achieve a sonority that recalls the sounds of Cuban music in the 1930s. In the world of Cuban son, the clarinet is an instrument that dwindled in popularity with the emergence of big-band orchestras and the brass instruments that came with them. The presence of the trumpet, the trombone, and the saxophone took hold in concert halls in Cuba in the mid-1940s, and were a sweeping success in the '50s, as exemplified by Beny Moré and Generoso Gimenez’s Orquestra Gigante, the Casino de la Playa orchestra with Miguelito Valdes, and the orchestras of Perez Prado, Mariano Merceron, Julio Cueva, Mozo Borgella, and Roberto Faz. The same happened more recently with other orchestras like Los Van Van, N.G La Banda, and La Charanga Habanera. In all of these, brass instruments dominate the sound. Segundo’s arrangements and instrumentation on Calle Salud hearken back to a time before the revolution in brass occurred.
Compay Segundo began his musical career playing the clarinet in the municipal band of Santiago de Cuba when he was still a teenager and continued playing into the 1930s with a group called Matamoros. On Calle Salud, the rich nuances introduced by the clarinet invoke both a classical and modern aesthetic, particularly in tunes like “Saludo a Changó” or in the Cuban danzon “Se perdió la flauta.” Calle Salud also features several tracks of Segundo’s own composition, including a reworked version of “Chan Chan,” popularized by the success of the Buena Vista Social Club recording, and a duet with singer Charles Aznavour.
Segundo, a singer, guitarist, and songwrtier with over one hundred songs to his credit, is cited as a major factor in the development of the son tradition. He worked with many notable musicians, including Sindo Garay, Nico Saquito, Miguel Matamaros, and Benny Moré, and was also linked to important groups such as El Conjunto Matamaros and the duo Los Compadres. In 1956, he formed his own quartet, called Compay Segundo y sus Muchachos, a band which is considered to be one of the greatest Cuban bands in the classic son tradition. In 1997, Segundo recorded the album Lo Mejor de la Vida (The Best in Life), in celebration of his 90th birthday. The album includes collaborations with such well-known musicians as Silvio Rodríguez, Omara Portuondo, Pío Leyva, Martirio, and Raimundo Amador, in renditions of new Segundo compositions plus songs written by Benny Moré, Ernesto Lecuona, and Walfrido Guevara.
Compay Segundo, harmonica (1-13), harmonies (2 -5, 6, 8, 11, 13), chorus (7, 9, 12), vocals (10)
Roberto Vizcaino, tambor (1), batá (1), chéquere (1)
Rafael Lazaro Inciarte, first clarinet (1-4, 7 -10, 12, 13), backing vocals (1), chorus (7, 9, 10)
Haskell Armenteros, second clarinet (1-4, 7 -10, 12, 13), backing vocals (1), chorus (7, 9)
Rosendo Nardo, bass clarinet (1-4, 7-10, 12, 13)
Hugo Garzon, clave (1), maracas (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13), backing vocals (1), lead vocals (2-5, 6, 8, 11, 13), guiro (4, 6, 9), chorus (7, 9), vocals (10)
Salvador Repilado, double bass (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13)
Benito Suarez, rhythm guitar (1, 2, 3, 5 -13), backing vocals (1), chorus (7, 9, 10)
Rafael Fournier, bongos (1, 2, 3, 5 -13), timbal (6), clave (9), cowbell (11)
Alejandro ‘Andito’ Rodriguez, backing vocals (1), clave (3, 7, 8, 9, 12), chorus (7, 9, 12)
Lazaro ‘Fino’ Rivero, backing vocals (1), double bass (4, 7, 12)
Julio Iznaga Pina, backing vocals (1), cowbell (7, 12, 13), paila (7, 9, 12)
Rey Guerra, rhythm guitar (4)
Vionaika Martinez, lead vocals (7, 12)
Mayelin Perez, harmonies (7, 12), guitar (7, 12)
Charles Aznavour, vocals (10)
Produced by Luis Lazaro and Virgilio ‘el Gallego’ Fernandez
Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 13 were recorded at Abdala Studios in Havana, February 1-15 1999
Tracks 5, 6 and 11 were recorded at El Cortijo studios in Malaga, in March 1999
Track 10 was recorded at Davout Studios and Plus XXX in Paris, April 21, 22 and 24, 1999
Recording engineer: Virgilio Fernandez
Assistant engineer in Havana: Lexter Fonseca
Mixed by Virgilio Fernandez, Iñaki del Olmo and Luis Lazaro
Mixed at Red Led, Madrid
Assistants in Paris: Stephanie Prin, Jean Paul Gonnod
All songs by Francisco Repilado, except track 1 by Armando Dulto, 3 by Rodrigo Prats, 6 by Enrique Jorrin, 7 trad. arr. Repilado, 8 by Gardel/Lepera, 10 by Charles Aznavour, 11 by Miguel Matamoros
Cover photograph: Javier Salas
Executive Producer: Luis Lazaro
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.