If I write the name Abdón Senén Suárez Hernández, I’m sure many people won’t know who I’m talking about. But if I just say Senén Suárez, then everybody will know who I’ll talk about just now. However, many people ignore the fact that he plays the tres with his left hand –something uncom-mon among musicians that play that string instrument.
Those of us that have white hair –or no hair at all- remember this cheerful boy from Matanzas, born in Manguito in 1922. He would soon become a well-known artist in the wide-ranging field of Cuban music and during the 1960s and 70s his popular Combo would highlight the airwaves, TV, and the capital’s nightclubs with many well-earned hits penned by him as well as by other foreign and Cuban composers.
Around that time, he took part in different musical bands such as the orchestras of Ito and the Valladares Brothers. After becoming the winner of the popular radio show –Supreme Court of Art–, he would begin to have his first hits.
The man who became one of our famous composers and instrumentalists would also take part in other bands such as the Gales Ensemble (in which he played the tres) and Luis Plat y sus Guaracheros (playing the leading guitar). In addition, he founded the Colonial Ensemble and was a member of Celso Vega and his Quintet –with which he would make recordings for Panart.
He would later be part of the Guaracheros de Oriente, conducted by Ñico Saquito, and of the Ernesto Grenet Band. For many years, he would accompany very popular figures such as Rita Montaner.
He organized the Senén Suárez Band in 1950, which in 1952 would record the emblematic “Guaguancó callejero”, by Ignacio Piñeiro for the Puchito company. The popularity he achieved with it opened for him the doors of recording companies such as RCA Victor. In 1957, he recorded with masters Oreste Urfé, Walfredo de los Reyes, Tata Güines, Gustavo Tamayo, El Pibe, Homero and Adriano Rodríguez the LP Los mejores músicos de Cuba, and he published a guitar method –with six editions up to date. In those years he made the famous instrumental guitar solos at the Capri Hotel´s Salón Rosado.
In 1959, he undertakes the reorganization of this old band, turning it into one of the most popular ones in the 1960s and 70s: the Combo de Senén Suárez.
A great roster Senén has an impressive roster with over one hundred works of very different genres that cover a wide range from son to rock´n´roll, as well as bolero, guaracha, guajira and rumba (in different modalities), and many other expressions of our rich popular music.
With such a catalogue, including his classic bolero “Eres sensacional” (You’re sensational) –that would become a hit interpreted by Alfonsín Quintana– the music made by our composer, arranger, tres-player, guitarist and band director would be used in films and recorded by many famous singers and bands: Celia Cruz, Benny Moré, Fernando Alvarez, Bienvenido Granda, Nelson Pinedo, Carlos Argentino, Oscar D´León, the Sonora Ponceña, the Aragón Orchestra, and so many others that this list would go on forever.
Senén, you retired in 1988 having almost 150 compositions and more than one
hundred recorded. Which was the first you recorded?
It was “Mi bumbabé” in 1945, and Cascarita with the Casino de la Playa Orchestra recorded it.
Have you recorded new CDs? Yes, “Guaguancó callejero” was recorded in Spain in 1994; then, “Alborada” in Madrid in 1998 with three numbers I wrote in 1946 and ´47. Also, Regreso feliz in 2002 with 19 themes including my bolero “Eres sensacional”.
Master Senén Suárez has received some condecorations that are granted to top personalities in our culture such as the Order for National Culture, the Adolfo Guzmán Medal in 2000, and different acknowledgements by the Association of Musicians of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, and the “Benny Moré” Center of Promotion of Music on the occasion -last July 30- of the 80th birthday of this prominent Cuban composer and instrumentalist.
Tropicana Internacional - Calle 6 n° 313 entre 13 y 15 - Vedado La Habana - Tel. +53 7 879 8784
Published in Lovelycuba.com – http://www.lovelycuba.com