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The Air of Havana


1 Ay Amor (3:47)
2 Espuma y Arena (4:52)
3 Dolor y Perdon (3:13)
4 Convergencia (2:13)
5 Libre de Pecado (4:21)
6 No Puedo Ser Feliz (3:30)
7 Mi Amor Fugaz (3:56)
8 Para Vivir (4:52)
9 Babalu (4:21)
10 Oh Melancolia (5:47)
11 Sembrado Para Ti (3:10)
12 Drume Negrita (4:08)


Comentarios al disco


Ares de Havana contains new readings of standards from the forties and upwards, from some of the greatest Caribbean's composers. From Ignacio Villa, known as Bola de Nieve - deceased in 1962, leaving an important patrimony to the universal song - there is "Ay Amor". Velas records is responsible for the production and release of Ares de Havana. Velas having invested several years in the diffusion of Cuban music in Brazil, has two CDs from Bola de Nieve on its catalog.

From Beny Moré, also edited in Brazil by Velas on the series "Geniais Cubanos", are "Dolor y Perdon" and "My Amor Fugaz". "Drume Negrita" (recorded by Caetano Veloso as well as "Ay Amor") is the representative of Ernesto Grenet's work. The rumba "Babalu", from Margarida Lecuona, the composer Ernesto Lecuona's sister, is another classic revisited by Selma Reis.

This nostalgia gives room to four more recent songs, composed in the last thirty years. "Para Vivir" (from Pablo Milanés) and "Oh, Melancolia" (from Silvio Rodrigues) are from composers of the New Cuban Ballad's movement (Nova Trova Cubana. "Espuma y Arena", from Pedro Luís Ferrer, and "Sembrando Para Ti" are among the others. The only unpublished song on the disc is from Alberto Tosca, the new generation's revelation, who has been invited to record with great musicians like Carlos Santana.


The CD was recorded in EGREM's studio, in Havana, in only one week. But for one month, the artist resigned from her life in Brazil to dedicate herself to the project in Havana.

Within the thirty days that she was in Cuba, Selma learned Spanish, studied the song's words, met with the other musicians, recorded the vocals, had the pictures for the cover taken by Angel Alderete and recorded the video clip for "Ay amor,"at Havana's tourist spots. The result is a wonderful disc that promises to expand the artist's fan base in Brazil, as well as in the USA.

Selma herself says: "I was very impressed by the quality of the artistic compositions in Cuba. I confess that it was a shock for me, for I only knew of Bola de Nieve, Pablo Milanés and something from Silvio Rodriguez. Today I know that Cuban music is as superior to the Brazilian in terms of harmony and creativity, just loosing in diversity of rhythm, where ours is unbeatable".

Special Participation

Ares de Havana counts on special participation that enriches the disc's atmospheres. This is so true in the case of the reverenced Cuban pianist Frank Emílio, the percussionist Dom Pancho, the beautiful cords of the Quintet Diapason, the guitar of Pedro Luís Ferrer, the harp of Yanela and the drums of Roberto Platt (that won a Grammy in 1987).

This quality would not be reached without the arrangements of the pianist Roberto Carcassés who, only at twenty-seven, has become a top musician in Cuba. As well as the music producer Rodolfo de Athayde, who didn't limit himself to record the traditional boleros, opting for modern versions of the Caribbean classics.

The Air of Havana the new release of the popular Brazilian artist Selma Reis expands the Cuban musical explosion a step further. Riding the wave international success are groups like the Buena Vista Social Club, Chucho Valdés and Irakere. The Air of Havana is a collection of modern arrangements to the romantic classic Bolleros of Cuba. For the past several years Velas Records in Brazil has invested into the diffusion of Cuban music in Brazil. The Air of Havana counts on special participation that enriches the disc’s atmospheres. This is so true in the case of the reverenced Cuban pianist Frank Emílio, the percussionist Dom Pancho, the beautiful cords of the string quintet Diapason, the guitar of Pedro Luís Ferrer, the harp of Yanela and the drums of Roberto Platt (that won a Grammy in 1987).

Alex Henderson.

For those who associate Selma Reis with Brazilian pop, The Air of Havana will come as a most pleasant surprise. This CD wasn't recorded in Rio de Janeiro, and it isn't an album of Brazilian songs--for The Air of Havana, Reis traveled to Havana, Cuba, worked with a band of Cuban musicians and embraced a lot of well known Cuban songs (many of them ballads). Portuguese is the Brazilian singer's primary language, but on this superb 1999 session, she sings in Spanish exclusively. When Reis turns her attention to classics like Beny Moré's "Dolor y Perdón," Margarita Lecuona's "Babalú," and Ernesto Grenet's "Drume Negrita," one can tell that she isn't Cuban -- she sings with a Brazilian accent. But Spanish speakers will find that Reis' Spanish is very understandable, if imperfect. Although Spanish and Portuguese are sister languages and are quite similar, they certainly aren't identical -- and occasionally, Reis pronounces letters the way they would be pronounced in Portuguese rather than Spanish. Regardless, she really puts her heart into these time-honored gems, and her Brazilian accent proves to be an advantage more than anything because it makes the recording so interesting -- it isn't every day that Brazilian singers venture to Cuba and sing Cuban songs with a Cuban band. For Reis, recording The Air of Havana was no doubt a major challenge; imagine sending Celia Cruz to Rio de Janeiro or São Paolo to work with Brazilian musicians and asking her to sing in Portuguese exclusively. But it was a challenge that she handled triumphantly and soulfully, making The Air of Havana an essential purchase for lovers of Latin music.

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Ficha técnica
Producción Rodolfo de Athayde
Dirección Artística Roberto Cascasses, Carlos Alfonso, Rafael Ayres, Ricardo Leite
Grabación EGREM
Fotografía Angel Alderete
Mezcla y edición Jerry Belc
Compañía Velas Records (Brasil)
Año 1999


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