Cuba, the music that lives in Alain Pérez
By Alain Planells
It happened in a Havana café called Mama Inés, a place where Alain Pérez believes to have found a criterion and sound that define him in the Cuban musical framework.
Nonetheless, he says that is for others to judge and not by someone who lived the diversity of music from his own roots.
For more than two decades, and with the genuine attitude of a migrant, Alain Pérez has let himself be seduced by jazz, has succumbed to the expressiveness of salsa, revered son and has allowed flamenco to live within him.
Those who have followed his career closely celebrate his versatility and above all his freedom of spirit in joining the musical path of Irakere and Chucho Valdés, Issac Delgado, Celia Cruz, Enrique Morente and Paco de Lucía, all the while defining his own . Pérez, composer, arranger and music producer, points out that, paradoxical as it may seem, living outside Cuba made him approach Cuban roots and culture in a particular way. He emphasizes that we move away from our environment, our home, we humbly realizes that it is the precise place that holds our defining values.
Over the years he noticed that many musicians forgot their essence, yet for Alain, being surrounded by other cultures became a wonderful experience, referring back to flamenco as a musical genre which confirmed the importance of keeping one’s roots solid and pure when thinking of working on contemporary music.
Along with Paco de Lucía he also had the opportunity to work with important figures of jazz such as Chick Korea and Winston Marshall, who were always interested in experiencing the essence of son, rumba, and thereby rediscover their own.
Spending time with these and many other great musicians, rooted in history and musical legacy, showed Alain Pérez that it was possible to evolve, color, mix and match their own rhythms with that of others. From this big possibility emerged ADN, his fifth solo phonogram, the first recorded entirely in Cuba, based precisely on the energy of his return to the Caribbean island. It is a production, says Alain, which is inspired by his life now, having just turned 40 and after a long world tour that lasted 20.
The essence and energy of a musical village and the particular shape of its author get together in this record to interpret, sing and conceive a contemporary sound inspired by the aesthetics of indigenous genres that he wants to immortalize.
Produced by EGREM (Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales) the disc includes sons, boleros, salsas and Afro-Cuban rhythms, as well as a stellar guest list which include the Cuban diva Omara Portuondo, Panamanian Rubén Blades, as well as trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal, lutenist Barbarito Torres and rumba group Osaín del Monte, among others.
A dozen songs are included whose authorship is shared between Alain Pérez himself, his father Gradelio, and composers Juan Antonio Gil and José clear Fumero According to Alain Pérez, ADN is a hundred percent Cuban but also intended to have a greater reach, to be liked by the international public, with rhythms and sounds of Cuban popular dance music relegated to local levels.
Although he did not live it, the musician nostalgically evoques the golden era of the 50s of the last century, in which the Cuban chachachá and mambo genres rocked the world. This new album in a certain way is a tribute and is tied to that legacy, says Alain, who also refers to his voyage through musical forms that marked the evolution of Cuban music of recent times.
Meanwhile, he tries to remain active as a music producer, concenrated on completing, among others, Omara Portuondo’s new album.
His plans include developing his his way of seeing and writing music, composing, singing, recording ; his challenge is to continue to make music, learning, researching, inquiring about his roots and origins... music is a spiritual force, it is a blessing , he says.