Singled Out: San Francisco Music Club's Te Quiero
This song has a colorful history as I wrote it with my partner Lorin Rowan here in San Francisco and then had the idea of going to Havana,Cuba to record and capture the true flavor of this magical place.
Having visited the now infamous Egrem Studios on a previous trip, where Buena Vista Social Club recorded their Grammy award winning album produced by Ry Cooder, my dream was to record Te Quiero at Egrem.a
I made the journey to Cuba with my guitar and dreams of playing with some Cubanos to capture the vibe of Old Havana as it turned out the experience was mind blowing and far exceeded my expectations!
I was introduced to drummer and band leader Geraldo Piloto by a mutual friend, Chuck Silverman who teaches at Blue Star Music Camps, a non profit kids program I run in summertime.
So, I landed in Havana and felt myself transported back to the 1950's
the old vintage Chevy's, waves breaking on the Malecon and everywhere the sound of Musica de Cuba
the divine decadence of a long forgotten time when gangsters and Mambo Kings
I went to Geraldo's modest home in Marianao and we sat down to speak the universal language of music
. I played him "Te Quiero" and we wrote the arrangement together on the back of an old cardboard box
We set the time for the following sunday 6pm at Egrem. My dream was coming true
I arrived early and checked out this classic studio in the old, still elegant section of Miramar. One by one the musicians arrived and I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to be recording where not only the Buena Vista Social Club had made history, but was also told of many rum soaked sessions in the 40's and 50's that were also epic jazz collaborations. If the walls could talk!
The band is called "Klimax" one of the hottest in Cuba. We cut the basics in classic Cuban style with timbales, congas, upright "Baby Bass" and acoustic piano, and I played nylon string. Once we got a take that felt right we overdubbed the trumpet solo, Geraldo played some brilliant brushes on the trap set and we added a string flourish on the chorus.
I have some video footage of the session and a great reel of the whole band dancing to the track. Luckily we had it all on pro tools so I was able to "smuggle" the tracks back into the US and add vocals to the final mix.
I will never forget my experience in Cuba and playing with so many fantastic musicians and singers I was truly humbled by the virtuosity of the players and their generous spirit to collaborate with a "gringo" from "Yuma" as they call America.
Thanks for listening to my story and I hope you enjoy "Te Quiero" and our new CD "Love and Freedom"
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!