Eliades Ochoa, the man with the Stetson who became famous with the adventure of the Buena Vista Social Club, pays in his new album Guajiro a vibrant tribute to the "sound", popular and rural music that saw him born in the hills of Oriente in Cuba. "I was born in an isolated farm, in the hills, five kilometers from the first village," says AFP this grated man, superb incarnation of "sound", "a hybrid style that grafts on a base of Spanish romance a polyrhythm and an improvisation of African type", according to Fabrice Hatem, specialist in music of the Afro-Caribbean arc. Before becoming a distinguished "soneros", hosting a weekly radio show, "Trinchera Agraria", recording Chan Chan with Compay Segundo, being part of the epic of "Buena Vista", Eliades Ochoa awakened to music by listening to his parents play as a child.
I listened to my father play the tres, guitar with three doubled strings, which is to the "sound" what the accordion is to the musette, "recalls this son of "guajiro" (peasant of Cuba). "One of my uncles accompanied him on guitar. I was very attentive to what they were doing, and I was already accompanying them to the maracas," he says. "And when they went to the fields, I would grab the instrument and try to reproduce the sounds I had heard. That's how I discovered the first notes." The one who was then "six or seven years old", claims loud and clear his roots in his new album. "I'm a guajiro," he sings in the second song.
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But Eliades Ochoa, whose grandparents left the Basque Country for Cuba in the second half of the nineteenth century, gives the sound of the mountains of his childhood a special brilliance, timbre and luster. Thanks to an eight-string guitar, which he invented at a very young age. This unique instrument allows this minstrel to reproduce the sound of tres and classical guitar, which opens up perspectives and enriches his music.
« If I hadn't been born to be a musician, it would have been better if I hadn't been born. »
In this new album, "no two songs are alike, I felt the need to bring something different, to themes that are not basically very complex. That's why we have bolero, guaracha, mambo, merengue", and salsa with guest Ruben Blades, an institution of its kind. "I come from the countryside, but just because you're a farmer doesn't mean you're ignorant," says the last active musician in the Buena Vista Social Club adventure.
The release in 1999 of Wim Wenders' documentary film on the only two concerts outside Cuba of these Cuban grandpa out of oblivion or their retirement had moved the general public. This page is definitely turned and Eliades Ochoa, settled in Havana, has only rare contacts with the few survivors of the Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club. "I would like Eliades Ochoa to be remembered as someone who preserved the sound, the power of the sound, bringing it a kind of joy. I want us to hear this joy, wishes now this sparkling man of almost 77 years. If I hadn't been born to be a musician, it would have been better if I hadn't been born. " he likes to say. The one whose black outfit and the Stetson earned him the nickname of Cuban Johnny Cash, will broadcast the good mood on stage throughout the year, in Europe, North America, with an incursion into Morocco and a few stages in France: he will be on the bill of the Trianon in Paris on May 31 and will return this summer to Sète on July 29.