Published by ramoburg at 03/11/2010 20:09 13 0
Guillermo Portabales (born José Guillermo Quesada Castillo, Rodas, Cuba, 6 April 1911 San Juan, Puerto Rico, 25 October 1970) was a Cuban singer-songwriter and guitarist who popularized the guajira style of Cuban music from the 1930s through the 1960s. His languid, melancholy, intensely lyrical guajiras and his elegant, stylish singing made him popular throughout Latin America, where he is still revered. Palmas restaurant. At age 11, Portabales began work as a printer's assistant in Cienfuegos. In 1928, he made his radio debut on the station CMHI, and from then on divided his time between his work as a printer and performing. In the beginning, Portabales sang a variety of styles — canción, tango, bolero, son — until he discovered that his listeners enjoyed the guajira the most. He thereby refined the style and developed his signature salon guajira style in which he depicted in bucolic terms the life of the Cuban guajiro (the rural campesino). In typical trovadore fashion, Portabales sang and played guitar, sometimes accompanied by a small group. His guajiras have a gentle, lilting rhythm, sometimes mixing with elements of the son or the bolero. Portabales continued to perform and perfect the guajira until he went to Puerto Rico in 1937. There he became enamoured of the neighboring island and stayed there for two years, singing in theaters, clubs and on the radio. In 1939, he married Puerto Rican Arah Mina López, a journalist who joined him as he returned to Cuba in 1939. Over the years they toured together in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, New York, and Tampa. After returning to Havana, Portabales performed on stage and radio with the Trio Matamoros. He also made a successful tour of United States and took an extended stay in Barranquilla, Colombia. In 1953, Portabales finally settled for good in Puerto Rico, where he continued to record and perform, with occasional tours of the continent. During the 1960s, he expressed his opposition to the Cuban Revolution in several discreetly poetic compositions.  Assessment Portabales' early work is represented on Tumbao TCD 084 Guillermo Portabales: El creador de la guajira de salón 19371943: Al vaivén de mi carreta. It is this CD, with its liner notes, which may be the source of the incorrect dates. His voice, and particularly his guitar technique, improved greatly with experience. This is quite clear from the recordings in his fifties, represented by World Circuit WCD 023 Guillermo Portabales, El Carretero. This includes examples from his three recording sessions in the 1960s For the quality of his voice, its purity and its subtle evocation of emotion, and the exceptionally high calibre of his guitar technique which is certainly worth attention by young musicians Portabales must be rated as a performer of the highest calibre even given the unusually high standards of Cuban popular music. His style is on the Spanish side of criole in contrast to many other Cuban trova performers in the 20th century: his music is clearly in the tradition of the old Spanish-descent countryside people, the guajiros. His repertoire was originally wide, but he came to specialize in guajira-sons and laments, together with some guaracha-sons. With his smooth style, he was known as the creator of la guajira de salón. As a composer he was perhaps not so important as his rootsier compatriot, Ñico Saquito, but what he did compose was of high quality, and still is popular. Three of his noteworthy compositions: El carretero; Nostalgia guajira; Cumbiamba.