With Cuban Style


6/03/2018

 The lullabies and countryside songs his grandfather used to sing to him while smoking cigars are by and large some of the fondest childhood memories he cherishes. “That aroma always takes me back to those days when I was sitting on his lap, listening to his songs and stories,” he says.

In Manaza Iznaga, near Trinidad, he discovered –when he was just a kid- that music was running in his blood. He was only nine years old when he traveled to Cienfuegos to put his vocal skills to the test. He started there in the children’s group Cielito Lindo. As time rolled on, he focused on academic guitar studies and since “the voice is the best instrument you have to spread out everything that’s in your heart,” he rounded out some of his friends at the National School of Art and founded Alain y su Síncopa.

Alain Perez started out on the musical road with both success and recognition when sheer luck put Chucho Valdes before him with the proposal to join Irakere as a singer and keyboardist. Then he was invited to play bass for Isaac Delgado.

Desafío was the first solo album Alain Perez launched in Spain, followed by En el aire, Apetecible and Hablando con Juana albums. “You’ll wind up singing,” maestro Paco de Lucia once told him, someone Alain Perez worked with as a bassist for over ten years.

He was yearning to return to Cuba and the passing of the beloved Spanish guitarist was the reason he clung to. Alain Perez came back to his homeland to continue making music his way of life, and so he did in 2016 during the 18th Habano Festival.

“I need to make music because that makes me happy. I thank music for who I am and what I’ve done. To geniuses like Miguel Matamoros, Celeste Mendoza, Arsenio Rodríguez, Celia Cruz, Juan Formell, Benny Moré, Omara Portuondo and others, I take my hat off in respect and admiration.”

Alain Perez is tireless when it comes to looking for his own sound. His latest album, DNA, comes closer to what he really wants. “That CD strengthens the sound I showed in the previous album, yet it’s far more Cuban in style, has more energy from this country and this people, because it’s an album entirely recorded and produced in Cuba. It is blessed not only by a recent Grammy Awards nomination, but because I sing a duet with Omara Portuondo, and because I’m joined by musicians like Rubén Blades, Guajiro Mirabal, Barbarito Torres, Rolando Luna… This is the album in which I release what I want to do, the one in which I put everything on the line for the Alain Perez sound,” he says.

He’s deeply involved in everything linked to music and authenticity. That’s why his performance during the 20th Habano Festival will include his song entitled Bemba Colorá –a cut from his latest album- and will play the three-stringer onstage for the first time.

“When you make music from the heart, when you’re happy sharing the Cuban identity of the DNA that runs in your blood, nothing can stop me.”