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Fito Páez: still in love with Havana 20 years later

Fito Páez: still in love with Havana 20 years later

‘…love is the most important thing, it makes you understand the other one, not judge it…’
Rodolfo “Fito” Páez Ávalos

We had been there from 7pm, waiting, we get into the theatre, Fito Páez, Argentine popular rock and roll pianist, lyricist, Spanish language singer and film director, is about to perform. This is the world premiere of El amor después del amor [Love After Love], a documentary on the free concert he gave in his native Buenos Aires to celebrate the two decades of his album El amor después del amor, which has been described by the critics as the highlight of his discography.

And literally seconds after 9:00 p.m., without any preamble, without a grand entrance and with the lights on Fito Paez enters the stage running. Pink tie, poka dot shirt and hair everywhere. He introduces himself, his documentary and with a smile suggests that, ‘those who want to misbehave and sing or dance may do it.’ The place erupts.

When the documentary finishes Fito is back onstage at his beloved piano and the concert begins. 11 and 6, Ambar violet. By the third song (Giros) he declares that ‘I am here in my Havana’ to massive applause.

And then the all-star routine begins. He calls the great Italian singer and songwriter, Zucchero, and they sing together ‘Desde que te vi’. This is followed by a duet with Robertico Carcasses, with whom he sings ‘El breve espacio en que no estas’ of Pablo Milanes.    Later Santiago Feliú appears and they perform (with the choir of the public) ‘Cable a tierra.’

Of Fito’s songs I love ‘Arma y desangra’ which is one of those songs beyond everything. Al lado del camino and Ciudad de pobres corazones are beautiful and moving. By the end the public is the choir and as he stands to leave they scream for more and sits back down at the piano and begins to hum playing with the word “Habaname” the song of Carlos Varela, his fingers go over the keyboard and suddenly he is singing the first verse of “Sueño con serpientes” of Silvio Rodríguez and he enters fully in “Habana a tus pies” like giving all his love to our city.

Finally with the lights on and the concert over he approaches the audience and says he wants to say goodbye singing a capella. Not just without the piano, but also without microphone. 6,000 people fell silent and the entire theater listened to him that hymn of Our America, or of Our humanity that is ‘Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón’.

And in my head as I walked home I listened to his words over and over:

Y hablo de países y de esperanzas Y hablo por la vida, hablo por La Habana Y hablo de cambiar esta nuestra casa De cambiarla por cambiar nomás

Quién dijo que todo está perdido

About Rodolfo “Fito” Páez Ávalos
Rodolfo “Fito” Páez Ávalos (born March 13, 1963 in Rosario, Santa Fe Province) is an Argentine popular rock and roll pianist, lyricist, Spanish language singer and film director.

His real name is Rodolfo Páez, like his father. When he was a child people called him “Rodolfito” (in Spanish, an affectionate form of “Rodolfo”) to distinguish him from his father. With the passage of time, this nickname became just “Fito”, and that is where his stage name came from.
He formed Staff, his first band when he was 13. In 1977, he played in El Banquete with Rubén Goldín and Jorge Llonch. He began to perform solo in pubs the following year. Straight out of high school, he began touring with several bands and soon after that produced his first solo album, “Del ’63”, which was released in 1984. It was promoted first in his home town, but later earned attention in Buenos Aires. The recording was put together with the help of some of Argentina’s most prominent musicians, including Daniel Wirtz, Fabián Gallardo, Tweety González and Paul Dourge. The disc won him critical acclaim as a songwriter and helped lead to future projects, including a 1985 album, “Giros”.
His 1987 recording, “Ciudad de Pobres Corazones”, marked a dark, political turn for his work. It was dedicated to the memory of his aunt and grandmother, who were assassinated in Rosario. The album seethed with anger, but it was also more rhythmic and showed greater songwriting depth than his previous recordings. Páez got his first taste of production work with “Ey!”, which was released in 1988. Recorded in New York and Havana, it also showcased many of the musicians that he had worked with previously, including Guillermo Vadalá, Daniel Colombres and Osvaldo Fattoruso. It also featured the trumpeters and saxophonists of the group, Afrocuba. Less harsh than his previous recording, it was one of his most balanced records.

Several other projects were completed in the late ’90s, including a live album, Euforia and 1998’s Sabina & Paez: Enemigos Intimos, with Joaquín Sabina. The year 1999 brought another balanced, superbly produced album, “Abre”. He also took home two Grammys at the first annual Latin Grammy Award in fall 2000. He lived with Argentine actress Cecilia Roth for some years, with whom he adopted a child in 1999.

Paez’ 2003 album “Naturaleza sangre” marks a return to his musical past, featuring appearances from Charly García, Luis Alberto Spinetta and Brazilian artist Rita Lee on the previously unreleased version of “Ojos Rojos”. At 40 years old, Paez finds himself at his musical peak.

In 2006, Páez was given an escopetarra (a decommissioned AK-47 converted into a guitar) by Colombian musician and peace activist César López in honor of his music. The album El mundo cabe en una canción won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Rock Solo Vocal Album at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2007.

In 2008 recorded, No se si es Baires o Madrid, in Madrid, Spain. He invited several important musicians, such as Pablo Milanés, Joaquín Sabina and Ariel Rot to participate. In 2010, presented the album Confiá. In December 2011 he has recorded a new album which has song that were made by other artist, but this time Páez is going to be the singer; the album is called “Canciones para áliens”
December 2012

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