ARTE FRANCE, HAVANA PRODUCTION
NON-THEATRICAL, TV, INTERNET
In his infectiously exuberant new musical, Jérôme Savary takes us on a voyage round the life of percussionist Chano Pozo, who rose to fame playing alongside the American jazz greats.
The show is acted and sung in Spanish, amidst a riot of colour, feathers and sequins, to the rhythm and melody of a carefully-chosen repertoire of Afro-Cuban music (aficionados will recognise Manteca, Cubana Be and Cubana Bop) and the stage is shared by thirty or so Cuban dancers, vocalists and musicians, including the sizzling female dance troupe "Les Mulatresses du Feu".
The narrative revolves around a black American saxophonist who turns out to be Charlie Parker's grandson (played by Allen Hoist). He travels to Havana to try and recapture Chano's spirit, to "feel the vibe". Through the people he encounters, Chano gradually comes alive again. In a series of six colourful tableaux, we watch him play and dance and finally lament his death. The script takes a leap in time here, a stitch in space there - shifting from present-day Havana to 1940s' Cuba and Harlem and back again, with an unexpected detour via a club in deepest Alaska - and the show pounds along at a breakneck pace, thanks to an outstanding collection of musicians including conga-drummer Miguel Anga Diaz, veteran Wilfred Fernando Vicente, alias Chongito, who used to play with Dizzy Gillespie, vocalist Aramis Galindo Sotomayor, and the thoroughly wonderful 86-year-old Juana "La Cubana" Bacallao.