The celebrated Spanish composer Manuel de Falla posited that “in popular song the spirit is more important than the letter”, but sometimes –especially in projects like this one by Bobby Ramirez, Yo Soy Ritmo! Danzón – Homenaje a Miguel Faílde they are so entwined in the music of the dedicatee that it becomes an exercise in futility to try and separate them. And so in these nine songs celebrating the traditional forms of music of Cuba, Mr Ramirez treads a fairly straight line, expressing both (letter and spirit) in the high-sprung notes of his flute. Still, in doing so Mr Ramirez has managed to reassess the musical heritage of Cuba in the grand manner. His magical lines and phrases leap in balletic moves as the notes pop out of his instrument and pirouette in the air above the listening room.
Miguel Faílde Pérez, the great composer and musician of Matanzas is sometimes credited as the inventor of the danzón, although many of the faithful believe that honour should go to Manuel Saumell, who anticipated many of the rhythms which came later in the 19th century. Mr Faílde was also active in the late 19th and early 20th century. Perhaps the Cuban government may have muddied the water by nominating him (Mr Faílde) the official inventor of the danzón in 1960. Nevertheless a tribute of this nature does not need to settle the score. It merely gives credit where credit is due as Mr Ramirez mines the rich orchestral style in which the danzón of Mr Faílde were composed, distilling their unique melodic and rhythmic style into his playing which attains a lapidary perfection so that this music grows on you, albeit slowly.
There is a wholly natural feeling to this music. There is a magical way in which the clavé, the climaxes and the sudden changes of direction are so perfectly judged in this performance. The visual power of the music enables one to “see” the dancers as they wax their way eloquently across the floor. This is a measure of how well Mr Ramirez knows this music – both as a soloist and arranger. From the perfumed heaviness of the celebrated habanera “La Paloma” to the rapturous arabesques of “La Flauta Mágica” a richly mysterious mood is beautifully sustained throughout the music of Yo Soy Ritmo! Danzón – Homenaje a Miguel Faílde .
Track list – 1: Los Ojos de Pepa (Contradanza); 2: La Paloma (Habanera); 3: Las Alturas de Simpson; 4: El Bombín de Barreto; 5: Son de Almendra; 6: Danzonete (Rompiendo la Rutina); 7: El Cadete Constitucional; 8: Masacre; 9: La Flauta Mágica
Personnel – Bobby Ramirez: bandleader, flute and vocals; Yorgis Golricelaya: bass guitar; Livan Mesa: piano; Antonio “Pacha” Portuono: timbales; Amaurys R. Perdomo: guiro and congas; Luis Aguillar Torres: violin and background vocals; Glenda R Mujer Esperanza: background vocals
Released – 2017
Label – Independent
Runtime – 34:38