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Rodrigo Sosa and his Andean music in Havana

Published: 2017.05.15 - 15:50:36   /  /  Miguel Darío García Porto  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

Before colonization the Andean people had a solid culture expressed fully in the dance, music, visual arts, literature, and religion. Although the conquest was fierce and artistic expressions, therefore, were subjugated, however there are still flashes of that work in many of their descendants.

The Argentine musician Rodrigo Sosa approaches, with his record the Quenística, the musical style typical of the plateau, which is generally performed by Aymaras, Quechuas and other peoples from that region.

The record shows us the sonorities of an Andean folk wind instrument: the quena, which is used in a traditional way by the inhabitants of the central Andes, and that at the present time is typical in the formation of bands of traditional Andean music.

For the recording of this record, in the Abdala studios, the production was by Evelyn Suárez - a flute player who works with the jazz band of maestro Joaquín Betancourt - and with the musical arrangements and the piano by Alejandro Falcón.

There was also participation of outstanding musicians of our country such as Rodney Barreto, on the drums, Yandy Martínez on bass, Guillermo del Toro on the congas, and as guests, Alexander Abreu on the trumpet, Amaury Pérez on the trombone, Michel Herrera on the saxophone, Pancho Amat on the tres, and Israel Rojas, in the lead vocals.

The album contains different genres such as danzón, Argentine folkloric dances fused with Cuban music, and the first Latin jazz that is written for quena “¡Que nadie se meta con Rodrigo!”, which is a piece created by Alejandro Falcón.

Amongst the songs on the album are pieces of undoubted value such as "Danzón almendra", "Libertango", "Un argentino en La Habana", "Un son para la quena" and an Afro theme "Obbámeyi", all of them from the basic sonority of the quena.

We should note that although the quena is not a Cuban instrument, in these arrangements it is very influenced by our musical roots, and shows that the union of that instrument with rhythms and genres of Cuban music can achieve much.

But for young Argentinean Rodrigo Sosa, La Quenística is much more than an album, it has become a project of life, since he graduated from the National School of Art in Havana fell in love with the ancestral instrument, and devoted his work to a constant search of musical expression.

The paths of this experimentation led him to join the Cuban pianist Alejandro Falcón, thus fusing for the first time in Cuba these two instruments and united the South American roots with the jazz, the Cuban music, the classic and the popular dance.

This binomial has held successful concerts in important Cuban scenarios.

"This project has given me a very beautiful vision," says Rodrigo Sosa, "very mature of where we want to target the quena today and from there I have drawn the strength to take the next step, which is to return to my origins and put together a new project of the quenística in Cuba with new musicians, with a good band, thinking the quena as the baton that directs."

"And this is the new starting point to make new arrangements, I took the musical direction of the group and always counting on the support and friendship of Alejandro Falcón and all the wonderful musicians who accompany me, always experimenting with new musical themes, and with the Cuban tres in the band doing a kind of duet with the quena, which is quite new, and calls my attention very much and that gives a me new ‘smell’ to all this music that is being done", says the artist.

This proposal marks a turning point that leads the quena to a renewal and proposes a new vision of the instrument, which dialogues and enriches Latin American culture.

Sosa claims that his vision of what he is doing today is simply to maintain the origin, roots of the Andean instrument, but giving contemporaneous touches necessary to offer it freshness.

He explains that it lacks artistic teaching in the academies, that is, you reach it by ear, in the street itself. In his particular case, he points out, he was helped through his academic profile as a flutist, acquired precisely in Cuba.

Long ago, in my native country, I performed the "flauta dulce" for a teacher, and he told me, ¨Rodrigo, you have to play the quena¨. Since then I became interested in the instrument and a love was born between us, a passion...

Quenística is an ambitious musical and spiritual project that seduces through the just combination of Cuban and South American rhythms, and through the virtuosity of the performer and the incredible expressive strength that imposes on that instrument.

"My position as an instrumentalist is always to try to give a personal point of view, a way of playing privately and being nurtured by Cuban music and its makers has made me a better instrumentalist thanks to the support and teaching of these great musicians."

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