Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gabriel Rodriquez: Canción de Cuna

For awhile, I have been searching the bowels of YouTube for a group I saw in concert in 1989 at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, WV. They were called Chacabuco and they married the sounds of the Americas with a unique instrumental combination. This unusual marriage of guitar, cello, violin, flute, charango, percussion, and Andean pan pipes produced a wonderful combination like I had never heard before or since.

The bad news is that there is not a single reference to the band that I can find on the Internet and it must surely mean that  musicians were in a short-lived combo. This weekend while going through old boxes, I found the cassette J-card the band sent me as when I purchased their cassette – the cover art had not yet been completed. For some reason I never took the J-card out of the envelope.

With it there in front of my eyes, I had the names of the songs they had performed on what probably was their only recording. I began searching song titles on YouTube and “Canción de Cuna” provided a number of recordings of this traditional Afro-Cuban lullaby that was arranged by Cuban guitarist Leo Brouwer. Unfortunately, YouTube has some of Brouwer’s recordings available – just not this beautiful piece.

As I listened to the various renditions of this song, I kept going back to Gabriel Rodriguez’s interpretation of this arrangement. He played it with such skill and finesse that I had contact the artist directly, as in his modesty, he did not post his name on his site. Gabe gave me permission to use his legal appellation for this Traditional Tuesday feature and hopefully in some small part it will provide a greater audience than he already has on YouTube.

One of the things I like about Gabriel Rodriquez’s playing is that he is not locked into a certain genre of music. By going to his YouTube site, you will find that he has a variety of recordings that span pop music, to classical, to traditional. You might find him playing the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” the Eagles’ “Lyin Eyes” along side of Leo Brouwer’s compositions, pieces by Bach, and others too numerous to mention.

While Gabe is found playing classical guitar on many of his recordings, he also plays steel string guitar, electric guitar, bass, ukulele, five-string banjo, mandolin, electric keyboards, and accordion. One of the things he also does is to find other YouTube artists and record guitar parts to undergird their recordings. I noticed a couple of real good examples including a cover of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” that included another YouTube vocalist and a recording of “Greensleeves” that incorporates a tenor recorder video posted by another YouTube artist. If you want to listen to excellent musicianship, check out Gabe’s YouTube page and enjoy.

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