Text and photos by Irina Echarry
HAVANA TIMES, August 24 – Performing in an almost empty room (with barely 15 people in the audience), Bobby Carcassés – the musician, singer and jazz man par excellence – demonstrated that he can be the axis of a show in which the sole invitee is the music.
In a concert titled “Better Alone,” on a stage full of instruments – each of which he can embrace at will (a trumpet, guitar, bass, conga drums, piano or cornet) – the Cuban showman gleamed in all his histrionic capacity: he danced, sang, cracked jokes and told stories of love and indifference through monologues, performance and songs.
He paid homage to the bicycle, a vehicle that, as he said, “helped me to solve a lot of problems, to get around all over Havana and arrive at functions on time… it helped me stay young and beautiful… though sometimes we undervalue it too much.” He also interpreted a monologue by David Camps called “Mandy Cuco,” about the anguish of somebody obsessed with finding a melody.
Among the themes Bobby played were “Blues with Montuno,” paying homage to Benny Moré, songs by José Antonio Méndez, and “Marty” by pianist Erroll Garner, in addition to pieces by Matamoros, Leo Brouwer and several of his own inspirations.
The few of us attending the small theater hall El Sótano (“The Basement”), were grateful for the display of energy and talent by the artist, who also showed his paintings on a screen – drawings that reflect the world of jazz from this versatile musician’s perspective.
At the end of the evening, so as not to leave him completely alone, Robertico Carcassés (his son) came on stage to accompany him, along with Tammy on violin, in a beautiful song dedicated to Bobby’s daughter Verónica.
The lyrics of the song are: “Life sometimes brings happiness, and then you see that next to you the dream converts into reality. I hope you feel – just as I do – a love that won’t die. To see yourself so close up like this, music again makes you shake because we are the truth that will always reign with that aroma of a dawn and our dream will be divine reality. What happiness!”
This was how the evening passed; the few people attending – all content – enjoyed the warmth of Bobby’s performance, the sincerity of his art. He is, without a doubt, a magician on the stage. He doesn’t need complicated tricks to change the public’s mood. He says to us that “it’s sometimes necessary to distance yourself even from your family to – in total solitude – find the things that are inside you.” This is simply Bobby, who even alone can turn the darkness into light.
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