|Exhilarating! That's the experience of a Pupy y Los Que Que Son Son concert. If you are experienced you will surely be heading down to their concert at the Phoenix in Toronto on Saturday, May 19th; if not, head on over, there is no better spring tonic.
The night is sure to hold a few surprises. Last time they were in town, 2009, local Cuban-Canadian singer Yani Borrell (of Toronto bands Clave Kings and Café Cubano) got up on stage and did some impressive improvising with Candido Fabré. 2008 saw the late Pupy Insua dancing on stage with Maribel Vasquez during an incredible piano solo from Pupy Pedroso.
|Joining Pupy and his 16-piece band will be two guest singers, the powerfully charismatic Tania Pantoja, la que manda (she rules), formerly with Bamboleo and the much-loved Mayito Rivera, formerly of Los Van Van.
The concert will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the group, the nomination of their current CD Siempre Pupy for best album of the year in Cubadisco's Dance Music category (think Cuban Grammys), and the 50th year of Pupy's musical career.
"Pupy" Cesar Pedroso was born in Havana almost 66 years ago. Still a top bandleader and pianist, his new album is topping the charts in Cuba. Despite his illustrious musical career, he appears very unassuming. Pupy has said in interviews that he never set out to become famous. His musical career seems to have followed a course of natural evolution. The young Pupy occasionally played with Felix Chappotin y su Conjunto todos estrellas, as a sub for his pianist father Nene and later gained fame with Orquesta Revé.
Pupy composed one of Celia Cruz' best-known hits of the sixties, Azucar, and wrote many of super-group Los Van Van's biggest hits. He co-founded Los Van Van with Juan Formell in 1969. For any readers unfamiliar with Los Van Van, their impact on Cuban music was comparable to that of the Beatles on British and North American pop and rock. During Pupy's 32 years with Los Van Van he wrote some of their biggest hits and became famous for his driving piano style. In 2001 Pupy formed his own group (with Formell's blessing), Pupy y Los Que Son Son, which won instant success.
His newest project, Siempre Pupy is supposed to be a CD containing a documentary video but as far as I know, the CD/DVD is not (yet?) available in stores in Cuba or elsewhere. The album is available in MP3 form for download from cubamusic.com and the documentary is on youtube. This is rather interesting in light of Pupy's comments on the Juventud Rebelde website, what Cuban music lacks is international promotion and the use of up-to-date technology [
] band websites. I think we need to add a good distribution system to the list.
What does Pupy say about his newest CD? To paraphrase from an interview with Marianela Dufflaron on the Bis Music website: it represents everything I have done with the band, it's not exactly a retrospective, there are songs from previous years and new ones. I think it's on track, but as always, only time and public reaction will tell.
From the reaction of the crowd in Santiago de Cuba where I saw Pupy y Los Que Son Son last summer, the band is definitely on track. There was a bit more of the dancing sexy boy element out front, maybe a little less instrumental soloing but, it was a great concert. The band was as tight as ever, Pupy was a study in contrast, calm and collected, yet driving the piano like a high-speed train. The singers were thoroughly engaging audience-pleasers. They loved what they were doing and the audience loved them back. It was exciting, hard-driving timba (Cuban salsa). What more can you ask?.