|Osvaldo & Alga Marina|
|La mamá de Portillo|
We met again the next day and he invited me to a rehearsal of one of the national bands he belonged to. After the rehearsal he asked me if I would be willing to go to his mother's house and take a photo of her. She was old and in poor health.When we arrived, we found her not doing well at all; I was only able to get one shot for Portillo. She died a few days later.
|Amadito Valdéz: Percussionist of Buena Vista|
Portillo then told me we were going to the home of Amadito Valdez, one of the original members of the Buena Vista Social Club. We stopped at a cultural kiosk and I bought a copy of a new biography about Amadito, upon his request. When we arrived, Amadito signed my book and wasted no time getting to the point: He wanted to do a tour in the US and he wanted me to help arrange it! Buena Vista no longer existed as the original group, and he was in dire need of work. I told him I knew nothing about such things and he responded that it did not matter. He had press releases I could use, and he felt his fame would carry him a good distance in the US. He also thought that Fred, being a musician, must have contacts that could be interested. I did set him up with a cultural promoter in Oaxaca, but nothing ever came of it.
Portillo and I got together once more before Fred and Faye arrived. This time he arranged for me to take some shots of two very popular female vocalists, Zule Guerra (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDSU3qLnEzQ) and Dayme Arocena. Zule was an up and coming artist who had drawn a lot of attention in the 2015 Habana Jazz Festival. Dayme was an Afro Cuban jazz vocalist who had won the 2015 Juno award for best jazz album (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmVojfQJ6Jo). I could never have had this opportunity without Portillo's help.
The following day my friends were arriving in Habana. I had arranged for a nice apartment in Vedado, a short guagua (1950's taxi) ride from Habana Vieja. Portillo had come through nicely; he had arranged three gigs for Fred with some of Habana's finest jazz players. The adventure was about to begin.
Part 2 to follow soon and will include a visit to Cuba's Escuela Nacional de Arte.