About 12 years ago, at the peak of his career as performer and composer, Edesio Alejandro was forced to leave the stage for health reasons.
At that point the doors of both the music and movie worlds were open to him. Edesio, the creaor of Blen Blen, had productions that were at the top of the world charts. Meanwhile he was creating new spaces so that he could share stages and recordings with renowned colleagues.
Almost 10 years ago, his son, Cristian Alejandro graduated in electric guitar from the Guillermo Tomas Music School and began his career as a member of Dayani Lozano's band. He later joined Patricio Amaro's group and was also guest guitarist at several Buena Fe concerts.
Edesio and Cristian lived shared experiences throughout his son's early years. Cristian would accompany his father on countless stages as back-up vocalist, and on keyboard and guitar. Speaking from the study of their home in Havana's Alamar district, Edesio recalls that at one point he decided to limit Cristian’s participation as guest guitarist because he felt it was like giving him the reward before he'd earned it. From then on, the two musicians decided to create and develop projects together but at their own pace.
Edesio speaks with the deep voice that distinguished him on stage, and at times includes English words as part of a Cuban slang. When he was ready to make a comeback, the world he knew had changed, it had gone to another place - the internet. “I always loved to study the working method, rather than do it haphazardly. When I went back to being an independent artist I obviously had to analyze and study how I would develop my work, and I noticed it was not viable to promote it from the point where I had left off,” Edesio told CubaPlus.
The years Edesio spent composing music for film created in him a desire to direct, resulting in his first documentary in 2009: Cuba's 100 Sounds. The film received recognition at the Santiago Alvarez in Memoriam Festival and got nominated at both the Latin and English Grammy Awards.
“It was a documentary that we made on DVD (five disks), with recordings of those hundred sounds that I had selected by taking a survey of fifty people, who I asked in a very nice way what sound they would like to take with them on their last day, the day they pass away.”
Edesio says that despite the film's success and festival screenings, it was impossible to pay for the music rights which for the most part are held in the United States, so because of this its scope and distribution were also limited.
However, the recognition and awards he received gave him the certainty that he was doing the right thing. The idea seemed to have worked and he began to make a fiction feature film, now its sixth year of production, in addition to another documentary that is also a posthumous tribute to Adriano Rodríguez ( an inseparable part of Edesio's music in recent years.) “Adriano sings on sixteen songs, all duets with artists from Cuba and the rest of the world, among them Danny Rivera, Pancho Cespedes, and Frank Fernández. Fortunately and unfortunately we included the last song that César Portillo de la Luz would sing, accompanied by Jorge Luis Chicoy. We also have Adriano with Cristian Alejandro and Hernán López Nussa and his trio, with Clave and Guaguancó, with Silvio Rodríguez, Eliades Ochoa and a song with me as well.”
Having moved around during the first years after graduating from music school, Cristian Alejandro went back to performing in his father's group. At that point he and drummer Alejandro Enrique got together and created a musical duo that lasted two years. Focused on pop rock and a solo career, he met an old family friend by chance who proposed that they work on a project together. “The year 2012 was a dream come true,” recalled Christian. “I went on a world tour with the maestro Francisco 'Pancho' Céspedes, opening his concerts both in the United States and in other parts of the world, including those that Francisco made with Armando Manzanero.
“After the first introduction Pancho said: 'I have never given my ashé to anyone but he deserves it and I will give it to him - book his ticket, he is leaving on tour with me on Monday.” I was on tour with him for almost a year, a time when I learned a lot, so much so that being with him and Manzanero and seeing the public's reaction has been one of my greatest schools.”
Life and Music Together
As a good father, Edesio cares about his son's professional success, especially by the possibilities the market has to offer young artists. The new guitarist's world tour brought back a singer in his full potential, which instigated the beginning of a second album.
Cristian also starred in the musical footage of Buscándote, el Concierto, a film scripted by Rubén Consuegra and Edesio Alejandro who assumed the roles of producer and director respectively.
The movie will be made in English and Spanish and will hopefully reach various markets through film festivals, licensing and television networks. It is complicated according to Edesio who, aside from his musical productions, also finds time to work on other projects with Cristian.