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My choice to put the album at the chapter's end might frustrate if read as an act of withholding or a slapdash stylistic. Resistance to transparent interpretation remains a tricky operation for some. Even when up-front access to the why of the work is made available—for whatever reason of material survival—reproach is often a response when recourse is made to the personal.
It is through my willful demurral of this predicament that I offer the following: I defer Cuba Linda until the end because it has been something that has taken me a long time to find words for. My keyboard has had to be dabbed dry on too many occasions. It has made me read and listen and read and listen. It has forced the private relationship I've had with it public.
Its details have motivated countless talks, conference papers, discussions with musicians and their critics and collectors, congregation with those whom find a parallel tone to their own fractured togetherness. It has pushed me to find funding so that I could travel and touch my own history. My interaction with Cuba Linda is a conclusion I defer, here and everywhere, because it is an active influence on my everyday. To evoke Danielle Goldman whose work makes recourse to Alvin Ailey, "I want to be ready" for the open and attentive commitment to the writing about and enactment of this performance.
To honor the details of such a life lived and how they were put together as this album requires constant preparation. While I insist upon this time in my own research and in this chapter, I acknowledge performers as agents that we can never know fully.
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One must be willing to fall and fail. I know that I will never be ready and not just because of my age. I will always be unprepared to talk about this album because it is one of the most powerful arrangements of Cuban sound ever put together. His mother was his first music teacher. His father was a builder. On the weekends, his father would make repairs on the Loynaz mansion, one of the most famous and elegant of Havana's residences.
Young Alfredo would tag along and spend many hours with the two remaining sisters that lived there. After the revolution, she remained in Cuba but lived out an internal exile by remaining silent. Her sister, Flor, was young Alfredo's godmother. He eventually turned to the piano after puberty took his voice.
His dream of becoming a concert pianist began after he saw Arthur Rubinstein, the Polish-American virtuoso pianist whose interpretations of Chopin and Brahms are the stuff of legend, perform in Havana when he was not yet ten years old. His teen years—rife with youthful distractions—turned him away from his practice and into other kinds of revelries.
He was a presence in bugalu and performed some of the most innovative work on the Fania Record Label. After a brief stint in Miami where he worked with Fajardo, the Cuban flautist, he permanently settled in France in the early s. These figures and locations all form part of the "one way or another" that contributed to Cuba Linda.