Ariel Alfonso

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Politicos may wonder whether the genre of Communist pop should be officially recognized, while romantics will recognize the similarity of sentiments on either side of the Berlin Wall concerning musical…
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Politicos may wonder whether the genre of Communist pop should be officially recognized, while romantics will recognize the similarity of sentiments on either side of the Berlin Wall concerning musical invitations to seduction such as "Ven y Abrazame." The image of songwriter Ariel Alfonso coming up with that particular song -- or another of his hits, "Asi Llega la Cancion," literally "Here Arrives the Song" -- while sitting alongside a river or under a tall tree is perfectly appropriate.

Alfonso began songwriting as a teenager in his hometown of Pinar del Rio, Cuba -- "the River of Pines." Ensembles from this city such as Grupo Yarey, sporting a nice combination of reeds, keyboards, and percussion, have recorded material by Alfonso. "De Mí Hacia Tí," a similar message as the Beatles' "From Me to You," was included on the brilliant CD box set entitled Official Retrospective of Cuban Music.

Some aspects of this artist's career are quite different than the usual legend of a songwriter stylishly making out with romantic hits. Alfonso's talents were initially recognized at a songwriting contest in Dresden, at that point part of the East German "DDR." Well-connected people in the Communist Party wielded the same power there as a Dick Clark or Alan Freed, but neither side of this political division had that much impact on the Cuban music scene itself, at least when it comes to the enormous popularity of Alfonso's songs at home.