Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez | Cilla Sin Embargo

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Jazz: Afro-Cuban Jazz Latin: Afro-Cuban Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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Cilla Sin Embargo

by Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez

Bobby Kapp's tribute album to the love of his life, Cilla. Recorded in Havana, Cuba Cilla Sin Embargo is a sonic waterfall of the most talented musicians in Cuba.
Genre: Jazz: Afro-Cuban Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cascada
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
9:07 $0.99
2. In a Sentimental Mood
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
3:51 $0.99
3. Why Did I Choose You
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
4:14 $0.99
4. Cilla
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
5:02 $0.99
5. Sandunga
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
6:05 $0.99
6. It Could Happen to You
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
5:09 $0.99
7. I Fall in Love Too Easily: Soul Eyes
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
6:09 $0.99
8. Cold Studded Woman
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
5:19 $0.99
9. Tres Palabras
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
4:30 $0.99
10. Descarga (Sin Embargo) [feat. Bobby Carcasses]
Bobby Kapp & Gabriel Hernandez
5:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
It's mid-December in Cuba. The air is funky with the smell of fifty-year-old Fords and Chevys running diesel or badly processed Venezuelan petrol. On the Malecon lovers sit on the seawall opposite the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist stage, stare out to sea, and watch gulls dive for fish in the reefs of the shallows.
A few minutes away in the Abdaba Estudios in a mostly residential neighborhood of Miramar, the musicians are starting to assemble for the second and last day of recording.
Alfredo Thompson, tenor horn, swings by in his Lada to pick up Robert and some friends from San Miguel. Gabriel has already gone over to check levels. Thompson's car has no panels on the doors and reeks of gasoline fumes from the spare containers in the trunk. It’s got Russian ancestry, a Fiat motor, but runs. As he drives he tells a joke and laughing, throws his hands in the air.
Almost at once a transit cop waves him down. Prim and starch in her tight uniform, she steely cautions him not to drive recklessly without both hands on the wheel at al times. She will let him go with a warning, this time.
Five minutes later he parks in front of Abdala studio, still laughing about the encounter. The entrance is back from the street, framed by a giant bird of paradise. You can smell the sea, just blocks away, and uncollected garbage, heaped up on the sidewalk across the street, under a giant palm.
Thompson’s cop anecdote becomes a story later, retold in the studio, traded back with other jokes and tales of official absurdities. It’s homey in here. The blind piano tuner has done her job and left. This is the second and last day of recording. There won’t be another chance.
Gabriel bustles around the studio, chatting, hugging newcomers, coming back into the control room to check the sound. Inevitably he gets caught in the mood and starts telling his own jokes. It’s been nearly two decades since he saw and worked with some of these guys. He knew some in school, back in Camaguey but this is far beyond a class reunion—it’s family time. He and Thompson toured the world as teenagers; Cesar, the alto sax player gesticulating with an ever-present unlit cigar, was a kid just starting out the last time he saw him in Cuba. Now he’s arranging, has his own band and is a major star.
They go through the songs tightly, calling out when they missed a note or came in late on a transition. They’ve only had two days of rehearsal but everyone can read the arrangements Gabriel wrote out and had copied in Mexico. Time is not flexible and they’re doing this together, live. It’s Jazz Plaza week in Havana and musicians from around the country and abroad have gathered for a series of shows in name clubs and public stages. Everyone is coming from a gig and going to another afterwards.
Still, most hang out for a while even after their parts are done. Horns, drums, timbales, backup vocals, conga, scraper and shaker. But by 2 am, well past the time booked for the studio, everybody has either gone home or on to their next job. There’s nobody but Robert, Gabriel and the engineer.
For hours Robert has been pacing back and forth, too professional to question Gabriel’s direction or the pattern of the sonic waterfall that has been building for the last two days.
Gabriel is the Maestro , no questions there. He and Robert had worked out the songs for months and he has them in his head, every part in its place. Gabriel says he wants to have the music there in todo, as a cushion for Robert to lay his voice down upon.
“The doll has to be dressed,” he says, later, with a laugh.
But Robert wants to sing. He’s come all this way, paid for everything, and waited for Gabriel to give him the nod to do this one thing. Countless cups of sweet Cuban coffee from the counter in the lobby haven’t helped to calm him down.
Finally it’s time and Robert positions himself at the mic. Gabriel is sitting on a stool, a few feet away, headphones on. They lock eyes and Robert starts to sing.
“See the girl with the polka-dot smile…”
It’s the opening line for “Cilla,” the title track about the woman who shared Robert’s life for the last 20 years. Cilla was his last love, his most danceable and playful love. And although she lives, he feels her loss more than if she were dead. She’s in an assisted living facility back in Mexico, a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s. He sees her daily when he’s at home.
She inspired all this: the songs, the trip, the musicians, the months of preparation, the expense, the overall tone. Yet she will never dance with him again.
At the microphone, even with Gabriel just a few feet away, Robert says he felt like he was in a giant stadium after an epic battle had been fought. But now all the teams and audience had left. Even the guys sweeping up peanuts had gone home. The lights were on and it was just him and a giant microphone. Nobody else. He was alone, singing to a woman who can’t hear him.
Somewhere between 4 and 5 Gabriel declares himself satisfied. There had been a moment around 3:30 when Robert kept stumbling on “las tres palabras.” But now it’s enough. The vocals are done.
In the following days we get to see the Cuban players in their own bands at jazz clubs around town. Everyone is still pumped by the session and have comments. It had been a moment—for all of them. Something you remember. The Cilla Project had been given a group soul.
Two days later President Obama announces the end of 50 years of sanctions imposed on Cuba.
And so now what had been called the Cilla Project was given a title, one that Cilla herself would have laughed at. She loved a good bilingual/cultural pun.
And so, “Cilla Sin Embargo.” Long may she dance.
Jeff Spurrier



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