CUBAN MUSIC, ONE OF LIFE’S GREAT JOYS!
Updated: Jul 28, 2019
This blog is a summary of a recent interview I conducted with the Cuban musician Robertico Carccases.
His love of music was palpable, and a father who was a musician was the overriding factor. A family that loved music, melody, and all kinds of rhythms influenced Robertico Carccases to dedicate himself to percussion. He confesses to loving drums and their sound, but his muse inspired him to become a composer. That is why he traded the drumsticks for a keyboard, once he discovered Jazz, his true passion. “I began to enjoy everything that could be created with Jazz and Cuban music. I discovered that Cuban music was the greatest, and it had the capacity to absorb all these foreign influences,” says Carccases.
Where did you study music?
“I started in the Escuela Nacional de Arte, the National Art School in Havana, where I graduated as a drummer. However, I was already enchanted with the piano, and had begun to study it more deeply. I would challenge myself on the keyboard, and play ever more difficult pieces.”
“When my studies were completed I began to work with Santiago Feliu in the group Estados de Animos, States of Being. The band was a blending of Jazz and Rock, it was progressive, creative, and crazy! I learned a great deal during this phase. Some of the other musicians in the band were Descember Bueno on bass, Ruy Lopez Nussa on drums, and Eme Ferrer on the guitar and piano. We later formed the band Column B, that mixed Cuban music with Jazz.”
When was Interactivo born?
“At the beginning of 2001, more or less, Interactivo was born. The idea was to combine the influences from Telmary, Francis de Rio, William Vivanco, Yussa, Oliver Valdes, Juan Carlos Marin, Julito Padron, and others. I continue with this project along with my solo career with the piano and more instrumental music. I don’t like to play a single style.”
Do you think there are enough Jazz clubs in Havana, Cuba
“That I know of there is the Café Miramar, the Jazz Café, and the Zorra y el Cuervo. Those are the three places most associated with Jazz in Havana. This style doesn’t attract large crowds, and most Havana clubs offer more typical Cuban music. Most clubs are looking to draw as many people as possible, and Jazz doesn’t draw large crowds. However, the quality of Jazz musicians on the island is indisputable. I believe there should be less commercialization of music, and that Jazz feeds other musical styles.”
Interactivo recently played in Puerto Rico and Miami. How was the group received in those two places?
“The concerts were apocalyptical, it was hotter there than in the Bertol Brecht Theatre we usually play in. But it was a beautiful experience. In Puerto Rico we participated in a festival dedicated to children from poor neighborhoods which was organized by Fidel Morales. They were basically percussion workshops for the children, and the duo Buena Fe also participated. We held other workshops for the children, and played with Yeri Medina, the founder of Bata Cumbeele, in Munoz Marin Park. It rained heavily that night, but the crowd stayed until the end. The umbrellas came out, and our fans enjoyed the concert, it was magical. The love Puertoricans have for Cuba is incredible. Cubans and Puertoricans are like brothers, that is why that are so grateful when they can see us play live.”
By Clao York