Cuatro foh ah living
Bassy - Love Vine
November 29, 2013
Cuatro foh ah living

Sorry if yuh missed Maestro Landaeta’s performance on de Cuatro last Sat-dey afternoon. Frenches House’s 180 seat conference room was close to ah full house. Ah fantastic and appreciative audience dat included locals as well as ah number ah Venezuelan and Cuban diplomats and citizens resident here. Former Guv-ah-mint Ministers Mike Browne and of course de forever involved Mama Culture, Rene Baptiste were present. {{more}}

Just foh de records, de venue Frenches House, incidentally located at Frenches is a small, Multipurpose Resource Centre wid adequate conference and concert facilities, good acoustics, it is de fulfillment of one ah Errol Allen’s dreams. He built dis facility and named it in honour, and blessed memory of his big Sis, Pauline Young, de sister who mothered him. She was ah pillar at GHS, de dreaded “Dean ah Discipline” during her long stint as Mathematics Teacher from 1945 to 1970, Wow!

But Sat-dey afternoon was about Latin Music, “la musica Latino” de culmination of five days of Cuatro Training, compliments de Venezuelan Embassy. Years ago de Embassy brought ah young professor, Jorge Quinterro here to conduct ah course in Cuatro playing. My own interest in Cuatro began during dat Workshop. Dat might ah bin de first and last of its kind. But dis year de Embassy dug deep in dey Musical War Chest and brought to SVG, foh de benefit ah our young, aspiring Cuatro Players, Professor/ Maestro Raul Landaeta to run ah workshop in Cuatro playing. De Professor has ah distinguished career! He began playing de Cuatro at age 12 and has been playing dat instrument foh de last 37 years. He studied Musicology (Cuatro and Guitar) foh 13 years at Universities in Caracas, France and Spain, and has had concert performances in 54 countries, spread all over de world. Ah Researcher, Teacher, Lecturer, ah Writer currently completing his book on de history ah de Cuatro in Venezuela, Trinidad, SVG and wherever Cuatro is played. Maestro is considered to be one of the best national references in the art of being a refined and distinguished academic Cuatro player. Greatness and meekness are twins and de Maestro is blessed wid both ah dem. He remained humble and patient as de kids stressed and stretched him out. Not to mention de tuff-head adults like me-self during his interesting sessions, learning de Latin Rhythms.

De presentation on Sat-dey featured local artistes who attended de workshop. Two items from Grade 3 students at St. Mary’s RC school; we heard ah five member group of Form 3 boys from de Grammar School, strumming on de Cuatro ah Spanish Waltz, followed by de song “All of Me” in Jazz. Dem boys got potential ah promise. My biggest moment in music was on Sat-dey accompanying de Maestro in two Spanish Waltz. Lesbia Tesorero, ah Venezuelan resident wid ah beautiful voice, almost stole de show wid an energized performance doing de Joropo, one ah Venezuelan national rhythm. Local Cuatro player, Franklyn Sam accompanied our own Cutelyn Morgan as she sang Reggae, Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry.” And den it was show time, de Maestro took centre stage. He literally broke down de place as he played everything: Venezuelan Waltz, Pajarillo, Merengue, Joropo, Gaita, todos rhytmos. He received several standing ovations. Ah wrote last week dat he makes de Cuatro talk, well on Sat-dey he made de Cuatro talk and scream! His CV states dat he is ah Graduate International Chef, Well, if his cooking is just half as good as his Cuatro playing, his food go mek yuh bite yuh fingers!

I am fascinated wid de way de Venezuelans have mastered de Cuatro and made it dey National Instrument, applying to all genre of music: Classics to Calypso, Jazz, Reggae, Waltz, Merengue, Paranda, Gaita, yuh name de rhythm and dey’ll play it. And dat is what ah would love to have in my Blessed Country, our children mastering an instrument whether is Pan, Guitar, Cuatro, flute or all ah dem. Ah want to suggest dat de Venezuelan Embassy and our Ministry of Education, join hands and get workshops in Cuatro foh our Teachers, who will in turn pass it on to de students. Ah will also suggest dat we send ah half-ah-dozen people to Venezuela to learn de art ah making Cuatro. When dey return, arrange foh dem to be financed to start ah Cuatro manufacturing factory. Just like how we have “Pan against Crime” we can have “Cuatro foh ah Living!” And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.