Dienstag, 29. November 2016

Pablo Milanés‎ – Versos José Marti Cantados Por Pablo Milanés

On this 1973 record, Pablo Milanés sings selections by 19th century Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí, drawing primarily on Versos Sencillos (1891) and the posthumously published Versos Libres (1913).

Although this was Milanés' first album, by the time of its release he was already an accomplished artist. Following early-'60s stints with El Cuarteto del Rey and los Bucaneros, Milanés pursued a solo career; by the end of the decade he was collaborating with Silvio Rodríguez and others, first at El Centro de la Canción Protesta de la Casa de las Américas and then as a member of El Grupo de Experimentación Sonora. Milanés began developing these arrangements for Martí's work while he was in El Grupo de Experimentación Sonora and the resulting solo debut remains a foundational recording of the nueva trova Cubana.

Milanés' simple acoustic guitar accompaniment offers an evocative setting for Martí's words, but his voice is the crucial instrument; his smooth tenor captures the cadences, tone, and emotional power of Martí's writing, from its quiet, contemplative passages to its spirited, passionate flourishes. Milanés' adaptation of section one of Versos Sencillos and his stirring versions of "Amor de Ciudad Grande" and "Banquete de Tiranos" are breathtaking. Particularly noteworthy is the brief "Eramos," a rendering of a passage from Martí's famous essay "Nuestra América" which masterfully conveys the musicality of his prose.

It's impossible to divorce the nueva trova from its ideological context and to separate Milanés' art from his role in Castro's Cuba. But while that political backdrop is divisive, Cubans on opposite sides of the debate, at home and in exile, embrace José Martí as a hero; likewise, whatever your allegiances, it's hard not to concede that this album is a stunning musical achievement. Pop music lyrics seldom qualify as poetry, but Milanés shows how poetry can inspire phenomenally powerful popular music.                


Yo Soy Un Hombre Sincero
Mi Verso Es Como Un Puñal
Banquete De Tiranos
Al Buen Pedro
Si Ves Un Monte De Espumas
Vierte, Corazón, Tu Pena
Eramos... De Nuestra America
Amor De Ciudad Grande
El Principe Enano
El Enemigo Brutal
Es Rubia: El Cabello Suelto

Pablo Milanés ‎– Versos José Marti Cantados Por Pablo Milanés            
(320 kbps, cover art included)                       

5 Kommentare:

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

Thank you for these timely posts responding to Fidel Castro's death. In this country the emphasis had been on Castro as an evil despot while somehow ignoring the incompetent reign, corruption, and brutality of Batista, not to mention Pinochet and other regimes, juntas, and coups we have wholeheartedly endorsed or supported outright or covertly. I assess Castro based on his influence on the majority of people in Cuba and worldwide especially in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. His successful assertion of Cuban sovereignty in the face of numerous assassination attempts and a failed disastrous invasion by Cuban exiles from my country inspired confidence in other countries that they, too, could control their natural resources and political systems, and not be dominated by the hegemony of or de facto colonized by the U. S.

I do not support communism. In my opinion, it has been grossly corrupted and, in its implementation up to this point, smacks of state-controlled capitalism in which the state, rather than the private sector, profits from the labor of workers while still maintaining a controlling elite who is richly rewarded by corruption and political connections. Still, to those in my country who will accuse me of romanticizing Castro and extolling him as a hero, I respond, "Not at all. His homophobic policies were execrable and his obsession with dissent unnecessary after he had consolidated power within Cuba and had the support of the majority of Cubans. However, psychiatrists in this country were still regarding homosexuality as a psychiatric illness. It’s a slippery slope from there to overt oppression and condemnation. However, I'll be damned if I don't recognize that the lives of everyday Cubans, not the propertied pro-Batista elites that fled in the first wave of refugees after the Revolution, were significantly improved by Revolutions commitment to literacy, land reform, education, and health resources and treatment for all. A poor farmer might have seen his or her daughter become university educated or even a doctor, a possibility that was improbable, if not impossible, when U. S. business and mafia interests dominated the island. In more than a few instances after the revolution Cuban doctors and engineers served in other less-developed countries. Even culturally, their influence can be seen in the music of Congo and other countries in which they served.
However, I find the destructive forces of capitalism and the obscene accumulation of wealth by a minority in my own country to be both a political threat and a ticking time bomb as U. S. capital, banking, and finance have resumed their pre-2008 crash practices. Why should they stop when no one faced jail time and the fines levied on the few were laughable when compared with the profits their firm and institutions garnered.

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

My response to the jingoistic hardliners here who have seen only Satan in Castro’s shadow? In brief, speak to me of so-called intangible freedoms after I am or my family and I are fed, healthy, and literate; before then I am or we are suffering from intolerable deprivation and still not free under a corrupt authoritarian despot who profits from selling his country out. It is the epitome of arrogance for privileged Western citizens to assert that free speech is more important than feeding and caring for oneself and one’s family. Moreover, given that the electoral college will select a neo-fascist for president in my country despite the votes of the majority and has done so at least twice in the past sixteen years, an alleged representative democratic republic that has pursued war directly or by proxy every day in my six decades on the planet needs to get its own house in order before it has the temerity to lecture others and ask that they consider it a model to emulate. At a minimum, one can assert that we have not sought to reform Saudi Arabia. Pakistan and a host of other countries we consider "allies" and who have been as oppressive or loathsome as Castro was alleged to be.

As vehemently as I loathed opposed apartheid, I recognized the hypocrisy of my country's condemnation of the Afrikaner regimes given our own sordid history of slavery, Jim Crow, and de jure and de fact segregation. We had no qualms about undermining leftist or nationalist governments throughout the world while maintaining legalized segregation and less than second-class citizenship for African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, and other people of color and, if married, women who did not acquire control of or independent standing for their finances until the 1960s. Despite or rather as demonstrated by the election of Barack Obama with its virulent backlash, and then his successor, we still have a very long way to go to extirpate racism and injustice in a country whose legal system overwhelmingly favors the wealthy and propertied.

We condemn the mullahs of Iran while ignoring our joining the British to topple a democratically elected Mossadegh in Iran, reinstall the unpopular and weak Shah, and, by doing so, ensure foreign control of Iran's natural most saleable natural resource for decades. That the Iranians still remembered that coup in 1979 left us mystified and subsequently presented us with the ludicrousness of George W. Bush announcing that they, among others, hate us for our freedoms. As an aside, when I was in college and university, Iranian students would never discuss their country, not even in the most benign way, for fear that the Shah's SAVAK was present on campus and would retaliate on them or their families. For them, the threat extended here on even the smallest campus.

Alas, I have spewed off again but, if these are not the times to stand in opposition for the junta that will rule, not govern this country, come January, then I am not much of a citizen. My father served in the post war European reconstruction, my brother in the Navy, my uncle was captured in and held prisoner after the Battle of the Bulge, four other uncles and several cousins served, and my twenty year-old cousin was blown apart by a mortar attack in Vietnam in 1969 so I have no tolerance for the likes of our next president who would denounce me as unpatriotic or un-American. You have posted Paul Robeson numerous times and by now all readers should be aware of the enormous price he paid career-wise and economically for his political convictions. You have posted Billy Holiday whose most haunting song was "Strange Fruit", a commemoration of the brutality of lynching. Lastly, as reflected by so many of your posts of music from my country, this country is a far better as a result of the activism and efforts bring about change of Robeson, Utah Phillips, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Odetta, Barbara Dane, and numerous other folk artists whom you have posted here.

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

I'll end it with simple thanks, Herr Zero, for always posting fascinating, and historically and politically significant music, and providing a forum for listening and commenting. Not all of us here are tastelessly celebrating Castro's death, some of us are foreseeing and ruing the possibility of our own reactionary Mussolini-lite, a man who is oblivious to or ignorant of our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, system of laws, alliances, treaties, and history, reversing the minor steps made by Barack Obama to redress fifty five years of an embargo and foreign policy that failed miserably. It must seem petty and inane to others that we trade with, invest in, and have an embassy in China and have begun detente with North Vietnam but still believe that we have an alleged moral duty to treat Cuba's government as a pariah. If nothing else, the Castro brothers remained stolidly in power and the Cuban people suffered, so the question of moral duty seems to be paramount and yet may very well be ignored by the most dangerous president in my lifetime and the lifetime of the two generations that preceded me here. Thanks for letting me spout off; I had intended to not comment on events here but Castro's death has revived all the ghosts and the right-wing reactionaries here without any meaningful effort to view Castro as a human being who made sometimes egregious mistakes but held true to his vision of revolution and independent Cuba. He still has an influence that far exceeded his authority in his relatively small country and one can't seriously assert that Cuba is not a better country today for the campesinos, workers, and poor than it was before Castro. Thanks again.

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

P. S. Living in a country allegedly determined to accomplish the impossible, eliminate terrorists, rather than the causes of terrorism, I find it inexplicable that Luis Clemente Faustino Posada Carriles, a Cuban militant in exile and former tool of the Central Intelligence Agency, resides in Miami. Both the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Government of Cuba, among others, consider him a terrorist. His most egregious act of terror is his reputed participation in the bombing of Cuban flight 455, which killed 73 people. Among those killed were 24 members of the 1975 national Cuban Fencing team, which had just won all the gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championship.

Moreover, he is alleged to have participated in other bombing campaigns to disrupt tourism in Cuba. Venezuela asked for his extradition in 2005 and the United States expressed concern that if he were extradited he would be tortured and, instead, unsuccessfully tried him for lying about how he entered the country and his participation in the airplane bombing on his request of asylum. Lying, not terrorism! He was acquitted after receiving massive donations for legal expenses from Cuban exiles in the United States. I defy anyone, even the most condemnatory Castro critic, to explain to me how bombing Cuban civilians out of the sky constitutes legitimate tactics against the Cuban regime, rather than terrorism. We in the United States didn't accept that rationale for the several thousand deaths of civilians both on airplanes and in the World Trade Centers. Bombings in which he has acknowledged his participation were directed not against military installations, weaponry, or government agencies, but were directed against hotels and restaurants.

Born in 1928, Posada will die in Miami and our president-elect will condemn Cuba for its repression and brutality and strengthen the hardliners by undoing the beginnings of normalization and demand it extradite Americans accused of crimes who sought exile in Cuba. Apparently, his dictionary and the dictionaries of many of my fellow citizens do not contain definitions of hypocrisy and arrogance that defies description. Lastly, our home-grown elected strong man condemns Cuba for denying civil liberties to its citizens while casually floating the idea of deprivation of one's citizenship for engaging in protected speech; that is, burning the flag in protest. We in the United States would do well to be concerned about own civil liberties after the signing into law of the Patriot Act and our president-elect musing about ignoring settled law and depriving protestors of their civil and human rights.

As for Fidel Castro, I think history will remember him as a complex man who can't be summed up in a single phrase. But it will also recognize that he was committed to the Revolution and the improvement of the lives of Cuba's majority, the poor and uneducated, and succeeded in ensuring that their living conditions were significantly better than under Batista. Above all, he will be remembered as an instrumental force in ending colonialism in Africa and being a symbol of steadfast resistance against a world power that sought so long to destroy him. It is difficult to imagine the world without him even though he relinquished the presidency to his brother in 2008.

zero hat gesagt…

Feilimid, once again a very big thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. It´s a pleasure to have readers like you.

Wish you all the best for the new year!

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