This ajiaco, or stew, traditionally and modernly made Mr. lvarez was unique among Cuban conductors at the time, said Marysol Quevedo, Cuban music expert and assistant professor of musicology at the University of Miami. “What he represents is this perfect hybrid of the traditional and influences from abroad,” she said.
Unlike many Cuban artists of the time, Mr. lvarez received permission from the Cuban Communist government to travel abroad, beginning with a trip to Venezuela in 1980. (President Miguel DÃaz-Canel of Cuba a expressed condolences on the occasion of his death.) This freedom of movement gave him access to Latin music outside Cuba and kept him in touch with contemporary musical trends. In 1999, after he and his band performed in New York, Peter Watrous of the New York Times called their sound “modern and unstoppable.”
Mr. lvarez pioneered in other ways. A priest of the Yoruba religion La Regla de Ocha-IfÃ¡, he was one of the first Cubans to present on stage and in the recording studio songs centered on his beliefs. Religions like IfÃ¡ – a mixture of Roman Catholicism and West African spiritual beliefs – were banned and secretly practiced in Atheist Cuba until 1992, when the government declared itself secular and banned the religious discrimination. The IfÃ¡ and the other SanterÃa religions are now commonplace and openly practiced.
The ban did not prevent Mr. Ãlvarez from recording, in 1991, one of his greatest hits, âY QuÃ© Tu Quieres Que Te Den? Which focuses on IfÃ¡ and asks listeners to think about what they expect from orishas, ââor deities. . The song served as a tribute to his religion, but also as a public recognition of his popularity.
Adalberto Cecilio Ãlvarez Zayas was born on November 22, 1948 in Havana and grew up in CamagÃ¼ey, a city in central Cuba. Her father, Enrique Ãlvarez, was a musician and her mother, Rosa Zayas, was both musician and singer.
He attended the National School of the Arts of Cuba, where he studied composition and orchestration. He then taught students for a while until he landed a job writing songs for the band Conjunto Rumbavana in 1972, after impressing the band’s frontman, JoseÃto GonzÃ¡lez. It was Mr. GonzÃ¡lez who introduced Mr. Ãlvarez to the idea of ââreviving the tradition of Cuban dance.