Cuban-American will manage Buena Vista All Stars

havana-live-buena-vista-all-starsHAVANA, june 4th One day last year, a 42-year-old Cuban-American entrepreneur from Texas woke up and found himself to be the new manager of a globe-trotting Cuban orchestra. He still pinches himself to see if he’s dreaming.

Maybe it was the fact that Jorge Fernández grew up in Matanzas, Cuba, living next door to a music icon who later became his godfather.

Fernández learned a lot from singer Rolando Laserie about what he calls the true roots of the musical style known as son — not salsa, as much of Cuban music is called today.

Or maybe it was the fact that the Buena Vista Social Club orchestra was ending its relationship this year with its Barcelona-based manager, and the members wanted to continue the legacy of the Cuban son.

Or just maybe it was that when Fernández first heard the group perform at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth in 2011, he felt an immediate connection to the homeland he had left at age 4. And he didn’t want to let go.

He began to follow the group’s concert schedule.

When he heard the orchestra perform again four years later at Trinity University in San Antonio, he couldn’t help it. He started dancing in the aisle with his wife.

It caught the attention of the band’s leader, Pedro Pablo Gutiérrez, who plays bass.

Fernández ended up getting invited to dinner with the group and, eventually, being asked to be its manager. He was stunned.

“We just clicked. I still can’t believe it,” said Fernández, who divides his time between Dallas and San Antonio while managing 20 mattress stores in Texas. He may have to add Havana to that commute as well, now that the Dallas-Cuba connection just got stronger.

The Buena Vista Social Club finished its “Adiós Tour” two weeks ago in Havana. It has now been reborn as the Buena Vista All Stars and will be managed by Son de Cuba Management.

The group will record with Dallas-based Music Access Inc., and Son de Cuba will manage its tours around the world. Rikki Rincón of Creative Juice Online will handle digital brand management.

Aficionados of the orchestra may recall when the 15-member group was formed in 1997 and recorded its first album. It became a global hit, and the group went on a world tour that included Carnegie Hall.

The orchestra features octogenarians playing alongside thirty-somethings. Gutiérrez is 48 and one of the original six members. The main singer, Ignacio “Mazacote” Carrillo, is 89.

Gutiérrez said recently by phone that it gave him a lot of “pride and satisfaction to know that traditional Cuban music will continue to thrive.”

He continues to be humbled and proud that the group’s music has circled the globe and will continue to do so with a new tour, “The Legacy Continues,” that Fernández said he is organizing.

Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston are being considered for the tour, as well as any states with large Hispanic populations, he said.

“They’re true artists,” Fernández said. “They don’t let money motivate them. They are really passionate about the roots of the music.”

When you hear their music, he said, “whether you dance or not, your feet and hands start moving.”

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/mercedes-olivera/20160603-cuban-american-entrepreneur-from-texas-will-manage-globally-known-cuban-band.ece