Seventh and last destination on this voyage with Global Compositions was a reunion with Havana, where I lived for 5 months eleven years ago – back in 2000. Back then; the purpose of my journey was to study Cuban music. Now, the idea was to compose new music based in the encounter with Cuban musicians. Whether it was Havana or I, who had changed the most, I don’t know, but either way it was a very different experience this time.
Havana still has an intense and omni-present musical scene.
But musicians do not have the same access to “do it yourself productions”, in the way you see it everywhere back home. Therefore you don’t see that many experimenting “modern-productions” – and hardly any electronic music at all. It shows clearly, that one is in a Third World country, where living through playing music is extremely difficult. Everybody has to play popular music for the mainstream audience to be able to earn money. On the other hand, the music tradition is strong and proud, there are many excellent salsa and rhumba musicians, and few places in the world brings you this many cafés and restaurant featuring live bands.
For several years I have been playing with the Danish/Cuban orchestra Grupo Danson. In 2005 we recorded our debut record “Mi Musica”. Back then we invited the Cuban musician and composer Alexander Abreu to come to Denmark and perform on the album. It was Alexanders debut as a songwriter and lead singer, but the result was good and led to a Danish World Music Award, among other things. Since then Alexander has formed his own orchestra in Havana: “Havana de Primera”, which has been very successful and today is one of the most popular and prestigious orchestras Cuban orchestras. I knew that Alexander would be a good connection to the music scene in Havana and therefore met with him one of the first days after my arrival. He invited me to play with his orchestra, which turned out to be a good opportunity to greet the musicians with whom he is playing and collaborating.
My second connection to the music scene in Havana was the percussionist Julian Morejon Pino. Juian is the brother of my good Cuban friend Yasser Morejon Pino, who for the last 10 years has been residing in Copenhagen. Julian took me to a practise session with the group Afro Cuban and introduced me to the musicians playing there.
The end of it was that I got myself a good team of musicians consisting from: Julian Morejon Pino, Kaisel Leyva and Yandy Gonzalez from Havana de Primera and Afro Cuban and also the flute player Jenniffer Munoz and violinist Yadira Rodriguez, whom I met at a café in old Havana, where they played regularly a few times a week.
I wrote 2 new compositions in Havana. One, which was based in a traditional Cuban comparsa figure and one, which is inspired by Afro-Cuban grooves and figures. I succeeded in booking a day in the studio Egrem, and despite busy musicians, who at the same time had sound checks and practise sessions elsewhere in the city, we ended up with learning and recording de 2 compositions.
Øyvind Melhus and Øyvind Ganesh Eknes, two Norwegian photographers, whom I met, joined us in the studio and filmed out session. I have uploaded some of their shots here on www.globalekompositioner.dk. They are currently working on a video portrait of Global Compositions in Havana.
Havana was, despite challenges considering logistics, etc., a musically very successful course and a nice end to 5 months of music adventure. Now awaits only the finishing of all the sound and film material from the last 5 months.