Polito Ibañez on the Cuba Musical Bridge

Osmel Almaguer (*)

Polito Ibañez. Photo: cuba.cu/polito

HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 20 — Known as a singer-songwriter, Polito Ibañez is among the most outstanding figures in Cuban trova in recent years.  He joined that movement in 1985, when he also began his career as a composer.

The pleasing tone of his voice is appropriately placed in such a way as to emphasize the intention behind each of his songs.  Those who hear him cannot remain indifferent to such a display of emotion.

His public, for the most part young people, becomes drawn into his style of expression, as they are wrapped in the magic of his honesty and simplicity.

One of the most remarkable characteristics in his songs is their ability to make you think.  This was shown with great effectiveness in his first CD titled Rencuentro, recorded long after he composed the songs that make it up (Gente comun o a la moda, Cada diaEspejismos, etc.).  Each of the compositions responds to an epoch of idealism that Polito himself has defined as “naïve,” which nonetheless has earned him many faithful fans among the Cuban public.

He won the 2001 Cubadisco Award in the category “Rock Music and Musical Production” with his second album Para no pensar, on the Unicornio label of Producciones Abdala.

His third CD is titled Axilas.  In it, though one will not note a blanket rejection of making high quality music, a certain “lightness” prevails.  It has modern tones akin to what’s in the international market, a trend that was already beginning to appear with Para no pensar.

Nonetheless, his songs have been included in national and international compilations; he has composed especially for movies and television series; he has given concerts in countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, France and Holland; and he has climbed onto the stage with stellar figures of the likes of Pablo Milanes, Silvio Rodriguez and Joaquin Savin.

Polito, along with six talented back-up players, establishes a special relationship with the audience.  He embraces an entire pot-pourri of musical genres that range from pop music and rock to jazz.

Ever since I heard the title-track on his first disk, I could sense his enormous capacity to deposit completely explosive power in each work – all with thoughts of absolute sincerity.  His is not a simple exercise in “making you think,” but one that also make whoever hears him shiver with a mixture of emotions and rediscovered truths — along with him — in a reality that sometimes seems sleeping.


CD Recuentro, year: 1998

Night fell and I went to my bed / to get out of my chest / the fatigue and the rub of daily routine / but in vain I was looking for the dream / and where I ended up in that aim / the account of life that up until today / has been dealt to me to carry on.

And I knew then that I lived from trying / from the indifference of the ‘just as wells’ / from my clinging onto all that / that I left as distant as the sun / and I knew that I dragged around that great pain / and that love came to me late / because I was always giving nothing more than a good reason.

And I discovered that it didn’t always give me the light / but I loved the virtue / of forgiving / and there, where there was time, I preferred to remain silent / because there are never the words / for the soul to show / and I always looked for the pure / where what is inside / cannot be hidden / but innocence / that sometimes accompanied me / I knew that was what condemned me / believing in all people.

Night fell and I went to my bed / to get out of my chest / the fatigue and the rub of the daily routine / but between the futility of that effort / I ended up with the old dream / of knowing what in life / I will then be able to carry away / and give.

The words in his song clearly appear like a poem, for their depth, for the disinhibition with which the piece is assumed and for its essential quality.  It is not a game.  The words that come together here do not point toward any type of linguistic experimentation; they are there to express a spritual experience.  They aim to serve as a legacy; an inevitable footprint on the paths of people and in their social relationships.

Polito discovered the world, and though it was not so beautiful or so good, he showed it to us in a splendid manner.  It is his life and in his testimony many human beings are reflected.

(*) A Musical Bridge from Cuba: This is an effort to find new bridges that promote communication between peoples of the diverse regions of the planet.    I will be using simple narration in a series of articles to connect with those who are interested in the messages transmitted by Cuban songs, which due to their limited commercial potential and the difficulties posed by their translation, languish in a state of communicational stagnation – despite their being true jewels of Cuban culture.

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