By Irina Echarry, Photos: Caridad
HAVANA TIMES, Aug. 25 – One of the greatest names in Cuban music was born on August 24, 1919 in Santa Isabel de las Lajas, in what is now Cienfuegos Province.
Bartolome Maximiliano Moré – better known as Benny Moré – sang with the seductive voice to each one of the country’s provinces as he hoped to win the love of all Cubans, something that proved not so difficult for him.
Though in his early life he suffered the consequences of poverty and a lack of formal education, he knew how to penetrate deep into the souls of people with anthological songs such asVida (Life), ¿Cómo fue? (How was it?) and Perdón (Forgiveness). This self-taught musician would have turned 90 had he not succumbed to the destructive effects of alcohol.
The music company that uses his name paid homage to him with an extravaganza titled Benny por siempre (Benny forever) this past Friday evening at the Teatro America in Centro Havana,
On the stage, which simulated a cabaret salon in the 1950s, each of the guest singers rose from a table and (symbolically) put money into a jukebox. Suddenly the Benny Moré Jazz Band began to play.
Hector Tellez interpreted Tú me sabes comprender (You know how to understand me) and Mucho corazón (A lot of heart), songs the public always appreciates. Alex d’Lara, with a fine voice, delighted the audience with Amor fugaz (Fleeting Love) and Perdón.
There was more: The Aragon Orchestra, Tania Pantoja, Alain Michel, Ángel Bonne and Sory allowed us to hear ¿Qué te hace pensar? (What does that remind you of?) – A song made for falling in love. The Pinos Nuevos Ballet made its contribution with “danzon” steps and a wardrobe typical of the era.
The only discordant note was reggaeton singer Baby Lorens, who arrived late on stage, yet was hailed by his screaming adolescent fans. He disappeared from the stage immediately after his lackluster rendition of Como fue?, and his fans went running behind to catch a glimpse of their idol close up. Chaos reigned in the theater for several minutes.
I wonder if it was really necessary to try to get attention that way. Benny also came “from the street” (as the reggaeton rapper says in one of his tunes), but Benny won his place with the forcefulness of talent.
Present in the audience was the legend’s last living brother, Pedro Moré, as well as Lazaro Valdes, the pianist with Banda Gigante. Two lateral screens projected images of the artist’s life.
Fortunately everything turned out well in the end. Benny Moré doesn’t need of a lot of scenography or famous artists; his songs speak for him and justify all homage paid to him.
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