Music Everywhere He Goes

Raymel Casamayor takes musical walks through Havana, sharing musical genres rarely heard these days. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 8 August 2017 — Every Sunday, Raymel Casamayor meets with several friends in Havana’s Maceo Park and, together, they go for a walk through the nearby streets with a speaker connected by bluetooth to a mobile phone through which all kinds of Cuban rhythms are heard, beyond the rumba and reggaetón that dominate the area.

His musical walks have become the ReConstrucción project, which has been running for more than five months and aims to make sounds that have been overtaken by other, more popular ones, accessible to the public. “People have not had access to other rhythms. They have not had a way to gather and save other music; every day a new one begins and the others are left behind,” he says.

Casamayor offers a break from the monotonous reggaetón. (14ymedio)

The idea occurred to Casamayor, a sound technician, when he started living in Central Havana and noticed that many people did the same thing but with another type of music. He says that they first lent him a speaker and he started going out into the street with a friend, playing other rhythms to see what would happen.

“We played Cuban music, Benny Moré, la Sonora Matancera … I really thought people were going to throw eggs at us, but it was the opposite,” he says.

Samba, chachacha, rumba, something from Nueva Trova, boleros and even a merengue are among the musical genres Casamayor plays. (14ymedio)

“Every Sunday we are in Maceo Park and when, sometimes, I have to travel to another province, I do it there,” he says.

In Santa Clara he has undertaken his musical walks through the neighborhood of El Condado and has also passed through Holguín, where he sampled his playlist in Gibara, during the celebration of the film festival last April.

Because of the heat, the members of ReConstrucción pass out hats among those who come to listen. (14ymedio)

Casamayor breaks with the monotonous reggaetón just before five in the afternoon on Belascoaín and San Lázaro streets and begins to link a samba, with a son, with a cha cha cha, a rumba, something of the New Trova, boleros and even a meringue

The heat of the implacable Cuban August has led him to change the start time of the show. “Before we left early, about four o’clock, but now with this sun we are leaving at five,” and he passes out hats among those who approach to listen to the soundtrack of Casamayor.

As they turn into Laguna Street, at the back of the Ameijeiras Hospital, some neighbors recognize Casamayor and stop to dance. (14ymedio)

Some of his listeners make requests. “Last Sunday a man asked me to copy a selection of songs on a flash memory and I bring it here, I give them the song they like and it’s good because later they remember it,” he says.

As they turn into Laguna Street, behind Ameijeiras Hospital, some neighbors recognize Casamayor and stop to dance. In a few minutes the block heats up, those who weren’t there come as they spread the word. In a small walker, a baby leaps to the rhythm of a son while his mother also wiggles her hips.

Some young people join the group to ask for music by Yasek Manzano. “We’ll have it next week,” the ReConstruction members promise. (14ymedio)

Ada Maria, 64, comes to a halt when she hears Van Van’s The Tired Ox, and invites her little granddaughter to dance while telling her that this was the music she danced to at parties with her friends when she was young.

“Kids and parents love that we do this because there are very few places to take the kids this summer,” she says.

Some young people join the group to ask for music by Yasek Manzano and the friends of ReConstrucción tell him that, although they do not have any pieces by the jazzman, they will look for it. “We’ll have it next week,” they promise.

Children playing in an wading pool to beat the heat. (14ymedio)

At the corner of Calle Escobar and Concordia, in a plastic wading pool at the edge of the street, several sweating children are cooling off. They receive Raymel with such excitement that he himself gets soaked, but the undamaged speaker continues to spread music to the four winds.