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La Comparsa (2 of 2)

Cuban Tres-Guitar Master Eliades Ochoa

     He also favors tres-like tunings, altering them depending on the key he’s playing in, as tres players shift from G-C-E to G-B-E. But pressed for details on his tunings or how he tweaked his instrument to create his signature sound, Ochoa deflects the question with oblique humility.

     "My guitar has a simple tuning, but it is a little different. Sometimes in life you’ve just got to give things a turn, a different angle—do things that will call attention to the angle. That’s something you need to do to keep going forward—to survive."

     Ochoa continues to look forward enthusiastically into the future of El Cuarteto Patria.

     "In November, I’ll be making another recording—a very important album with El Cuarteto Patria. This will be an homage to the 60th anniversary of the band. Along with the record, there’ll be a book, telling the story from then to now—the story of from when I was a boy till now. We’ll be recording it in Madrid or someplace in Germany, because we’ll be travelling abroad, and want to take advantage of the opportunity to record on the Continent. Then we’ll tour for a while before coming home to Cuba."

     Ochoa is delighted with all the work and attention he and the band are getting these days. Still, it hasn’t translated into greater personal notoriety in Cuba and he seems genuinely uncomfortable with the notion of fame.

     "No, I have a long way to go before I become famous. I believe that I am a follower of Cuban music. I’m ready to defend the music that’s been bequeathed to me. The people who originated these sounds—they’re the ones who are really famous."

(Special thanks to Stephen Bell and Gustavo Peña for help with the Spanish.)


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