David and Gilberto in Havana

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” – Chinese proverb

Reunited in Havana with the help of Jazz on the Tube,
Cuban drummer and singer Gilberto Valdés (89) and
US composer and instrumentalist David Amram (87)
work through the rhythms of a score together over lunch.

Jazz is an art of innovation, but it’s equally an art of memory, history, and tradition.  

Gilberto and David know what it was like when there was a free flow of music and musicians between Cuba and the United States and what a positive impact that had on the people and music of both countries.

They also know the jarring effect of having that free flow cut off. (This was David’s first trip back to Cuba in forty one years.) 

At Gilberto’s home, David and Gilberto talk
about the fine points of Cuban percussion.

Gilberto’s son is in Sao Paulo working as a filmmaker and when he visits he brings his Dad Brazilian instruments like this flute and pandeiro (tamborine.) Gilberto and David took them down off the wall where they were hanging and gave them a try.

At La Zorra and El Cuervo – the club in Havana where you can consistently hear great jazz seven nights a week – David and Orlando “Maraca” Valle on flute jam.

That’s New York’s Robby Ameen sitting in on drums. (If anyone recognizes the other players, please let me know.)

After we’ve paid the light bill and sent out the daily videos, this is an example of some of the the “behind the scenes” work Jazz on the Tube does to help make unique musical things happen in Cuba and elsewhere.

If you’re inclined to pay a voluntary user fee for your daily subscription and access to over 2,500+ classic jazz videos, we can always use the help and guarantee the money will be well used. Support Jazz on the Tube here.

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

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In Matanzas
Visiting with Camilo in Havana