It’s 7:30 in the evening. To the side of the pianist and television presenter, Jimmy Salcedo, is sitting a lord of more or less 60 years of age. Wears a black jacket, mustache, ashy and hair of the same color. Still the tv is black and white. (Or would it be in my house we were late?).
Well, no matter.
The matter is that, a few minutes later, the guest at “The show of Jimmy” starts to cause me to laugh. But not a laugh of mockery, but of amazement, simply because I had never seen someone calling onomatopoeia of drums; and the lord makes it so formidable that it makes me want to stand up to dance.
One of those onomatopoeia has to do with a certain song that I had spent years listening to on the radio cartageneras of the late 60’s. That song, whenever I hear it, it makes me remember the Santa Maria neighborhood, where I was born. And I don’t know exactly why it reminds me. The best someone sang or danced on the dirt floor of the house of my aunt Isabelita. Or maybe because it sounded in the picós or in the transistors mounted on the ledges of the rooms and kitchens.
“You forgot,” that I regret, that chandé, that trumpet was devastating, I continue bringing the images of the sun dying on the sides of Marbella, from Santa Maria was seen with all its magnificence for between the silhouettes of the coconut trees.
But let’s get back to the room of my house, in the neighborhood of the Relief.
The old man who is at the side of Jimmy Salcedo is called Antonio Maria Peñaloza Cervantes. Is a trumpet player and composer. The pianist presents it as if all the universe to know who they are. And maybe the universe knows except me, that as soon as I’m moving slowly in discussions of music.
But I come back and I wonder: does that old man is the author of the melody that I mourn?What sheath great!!! If you knew that your song me benching, because at these heights already died, the aunt Isabelita, sold their house, and the sunshine of Marbella are drowning after a jungle of buildings that build the maniacs money fast.
I give it back.
Jimmy pauses for a moment and appears a orchestra playing “I forgot”. Returns to converse with the old man. Another pause and the same orchestra appears by running the song “Half a cow”, but this time with the participation of the old man, who, dressed up with glasses, reads a decree implausible, which also produces laughter: “I Mátese average cow!”
Just the program.
It takes several years, but I do not forget the image of the old man. I come to Barranquilla at the beginning of the years 90 and wonder for him. I’m trying to be a journalist, and it occurs to me that maybe I could interview you don’t even know what for, nor what I will ask. Or yes I know: what I want is to tell me why your song is stubborn in me remember Holy Mary and the aunt Isabelita. I wish I could be.
I keep asking for him, and a veteran journalist tells me: –“oh, Shit! What will you do for what you want to talk with that old man?”.
Still I’m not sure, but I put a frame-up:
–Is that the teacher deeeeee… (what sheath will it be?)… Editorial we commissioned a report with theme free.
–And what semester are you?
–In the first
–Don’t fuck him, and already you’re seeing Writing?
–No, it is not Writing. It is… Introduction to the Media.
–Ah, well, that old man is pretty grumpy, is as bitter.
The veteran journalist was driving that ana tremendista, because a few years ago, interviewing Peñaloza, tried to controvertirlo and the old man loosed him an unexpected question:
–Are you a musician?
–Then, shut up and let me talk.
After he told me that a student of Penaloza, who was then professor of the School of Fine Arts, came out crying from the room where the famous musician was giving him instructions of singing.
–Stand in the middle of the school yard and yell at you 20 times the word “avocado” –she ordered to the girl–
–How is that for what?–she asked–
–Because the only thing that would voice his would be to sell avocados.
The journalist says goodbye promising that I will get the phone number of Peñaloza. And true to his promise. As far as I can, frame the number. A female voice informs me that it is not, call you in the afternoon. Spend two hours, after lunch, and I again dial the number. A voice fall, but valiant, picks up on the other side:
–Who can I taste?
–Eh… how are you, teacher?
–Well. Who speaks?
Nervously I stand and I mention what the school of Journalism.
–«Uh-huh, and what is it that you want?
–To give me an interview to do a task that I put on.
–But it will be tomorrow, because I already have the afternoon occupied.
–Lléguese to Calle Murillo with 44. Find us on the corner of the cinemas.
Are the 4 of the afternoon. I’m with a schoolfellow who aspires to become a photojournalist. I guess that this will be your first interview, because he just bought the camera at a pawn.
Suddenly, we see how in a house of the sidewalk in front opens a blue door. There comes an old man of short stature, but walking fast. Is the master Peñaloza, who immediately recognizes us. I guess that was for the camera newly purchased.
Invites us to a soda fountain to the side of the theaters, and it was thus that we learned that he was born in Aracataca (Magdalena) a bunch of years ago. I was 12 years old when he got to see the early dead of his life. Were the peasants who fell in the famous “Massacre of the banana”.
We said what we always had in all parts: that You “forgot” emerged from a poem that he wrote a Spanish-language narrator of horse riding in Bogotá, called Mariano San Ildefonso. Then, Peñaloza lived in that city, where he was contacted by Jose Maria “Curro” Fuentes, who had just opened a studio recording and they wanted to open the memorial by posting a Long Play of rhythms of the colombian Caribbean.
For that mission contacted Peñaloza, who would be in charge of choosing the repertoire and invite the musicians. Since the recording was concluding, when the virtuoso trumpeter was reminded of the poems of San Ildefonso.
That night they put to the review, and the only one that caught his attention was “You forgot”, he maimed a few things and it improved so many other up until it was as went out to the public.
But his recording was not so easy, starting because the Job Sources not liked. Felt that it was a song too long (“longer than the national anthem”) and that it was more likely he did not like anyone. But Penaloza insisted until the Curro Fuentes gave his approval, but much to her way: “Fuck! –he said– you are stubborn. Well, what the fuck, burn that shit”.
The musical framework of the song was executed by a joint panamanian who provided the drums and the piano, while Peñaloza did the same with his trumpet, to embellish the singing of the vallenatero Alberto Fernandez. The song was recorded, say in the pace of chandé, or in the pace of scribble. In fact, also known as “the dance of The garabato”. It is now considered the “national anthem of the carnival of Barranquilla”, and it boasts a series of versions which, to my way of listening, not to exceed the original performance.
To Peñaloza he was pleased to say that “that song liked it, like it and continue liking it, because it is the obverse and the reverse side of life”.
That afternoon, the trainee photojournalist made me realize that we needed a photo in which Peñaloza appeared holding an instrument, but the teacher suggested that we meet up the next day in the Fine Arts, where we could choose the engine that we would like.
That’s what we did. We arrived at 2 in the afternoon. Peñaloza was waiting for us in the internal square of the complex, where a young man practiced proudly with a trumpet.
The student, to see Peñaloza, greeted him with undisguisable outpouring:
–Master! What a pleasure to see you!
–What teacher or what the fuck!–rebuked Peñaloza–Do You think that if I were a teacher of yours, you were playing that trumpet as well as the tap?
We walk into a room where I waited about 20 kids armed with guitars, took and posed for us without serious artistic pretensions.
Before we left we asked if they had more record productions recorded, “because the only thing that we always hear is ‘I forgot’”.
–I have a lot of –answered– but if you want a country more uninformed Colombia, ave Maria.
We said our goodbyes. He moved into his seedbed of future instrumentalists and we went up and down streets still celebrating the episode of the young trumpeter on the square of Fine Arts.