Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Moré Moré Moré

Play it: Essential Beny Moré

Over the past week, Rhapsody must've lifted some sort of trade embargo with Cuba, as albums were dropping left and right all over the place. Tons of Celia Cruz and Beny Moré, along with other important Cuban acts from the 50's like Arsenio Rodriguez, Orquesta Aragón, Orquesta Revé and more. Enough to make me light up a Habana Partagas Corona and believe for a moment that it hadn't been raining for four straight weeks.

The most key of these additions to any Cuban music lover is those of Beny Moré. Considered the greatest Cuban singer of all-time (the Frank Sinatra of Cuban music,) Moré's knowledge of both African and Spanish styles of music allowed him the range to sing in nearly every Cuban style - son montuno, mambo, guaracha, guajira, cha cha cha, afro, canción, guaguancó, and bolero. It's this range that makes him probably the most essential Cuban artist. Since he recorded his whole career with essentially only one label (RCA,) you'd think by now they'd have a definitived collection, but instead, we're left with some pretty good bits and pieces. The playlist highlighted above compiles most the essential tracks (some not available in Rhapsody) all together in one convenient 'Drake-approved' album length collection.

Moré was born Bartolomé Moré in Santa Isabel de las Lajas in central Cuba, August 24, 1919. At age 21, Moré was living hand-to-mouth, playing cafes and bars, until he got a break as a replacement singer for the Trío Matamoros conjunto act, and traveled to Mexico and performed and recorded with the band. When he decided to stay, he changed his name to Beny (since the moniker 'bartolo' was often used for 'burro.') He continued recording with RCA solo, backed first by Mariano Mercerón's orchestra, then with Perez Prado. There, they dubbed him 'The Prince of Mambo,' and had become a star in Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Panama.

In 1950, he returned to Cuba, virtually unknown in his homeland. In Havana, Moré worked with the orchestra of Bebo Valdés at the radio station RHC Cadena Azul. There, Moré was dubbed 'El Bárbaro del Ritmo.' Moré then began playing with Ernesto Duarte's orchestra and with Orquesta Aragón, helping the Cienfuegos band break into the Havana scene. After Moré discovered Duarte left him out of weekend performances because he was black, Moré decided to form his own orchestra, Banda Gigante, which numbered up to fourty musicians at it's largest. Beny couldn't read music, but arranged the parts by singing to them to the musicians. By 1954, Banda Gigante was quite popular, touring countries, even playing the Oscars in 1957. A tour of Europe was planned for Moré, but he declined - having suffered through three airplane crashes already, Beny had officially grounded himself.

After the revolution in Cuba happened, Beny had the chance to make the jump to the United States for the money, like Celia Cruz did, but instead he "preferred to stay with his people." He died of cirrhosis in 1963, at the relatively young age of 43.

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Essential: Beny More

* "Bonito Y Sabroso" - Beny More
* "Como Fue" - Beny More
* "Tu Me Sabes Comprender" - Beny More
* "Y Hoy Como Ayer" - Beny More
* "Oh Vida" - Beny More
* "Compay Jose" - Beny Moré
* "Que Bueno Baila Usted" - Beny More
* "Francisco Guayabal" - Beny More
* "Maracaibo Oriental" - Beny More
* "Elige Tu Que Canto Yo" - Beny Moré
* "Camarera Del Amor" - Beny More
* "Caricias Cubanas" - Beny More
* "Mi Amor Fugaz" - Beny More
* "Corazon Rebelde" - Beny Moré
* "Soy Campesino" - Beny More
* "Vagar Entre Sombras" - Beny More
* "Se Te Cayo Tabaco" - Beny More
* "Cienfuegos" - Beny Moré
* "Soy Del Monte" - Beny More
* "Como Arrullo De Palmas" - Beny More
* "Te Quedaras" - Beny More