Passport
Full Episode
Havana Time Machine

GREAT PERFORMANCES and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES present Havana Time Machine. Singer Raul Malo of The Mavericks explores his Cuban heritage in this breakthrough performance documentary. Eliades Ochoa, Ivette Cepeda, Roberto Fonseca, and the Sweet Lizzy Project join the music star in an historical and musical journey through present-day Cuba.

Transcript Print

[ Indistinct chatter ] -My name is Raul Malo.

I'm a musician, and I'm an American.

But I was born Raul Francisco Martinez-Malo Jr.

to Cuban parents living in Miami.

It has been my lifelong dream to come here to Cuba, the homeland of my people, and perform the music that this place has inspired in me.

♪♪ ♪♪ Here is El Capitolio, modeled after our U.S. Capitol.

Scaffolding surrounds the dome, metaphor for a nation always in transition.

To the right is the stunning Gran Teatro de La Habana, one of the world's most opulent theaters.

It's fitting the two stand side by side.

For more than half a century, revolution has been the beating heart of Cuba, but music and art have always been her soul.

For most Americans, Cuba seems like a dream, an exotic theme park of rum, rhythm, Ricky Ricardo, baseball greats, gangsters, casinos, classic cars, and big cigars.

But for me, it's the home I've never known, the place my parents told me bedtime stories about.

It's the land that shaped my parents, and, through them, the man I am today.

The roots of my musical soul have been reaching for Cuban soil my entire life.

And now, the reality is beyond my wildest dreams.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ I'm here in Old Havana to meet my friend Eliades Ochoa of el Cuarteto Patria in the Buena Vista Social Club.

He's today's finest performer of son montuno -- mountain song -- Cuba's traditional country music.

Its rhythms are as integrated in Cuban life as the waves beating on her shores.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ Cheers and applause ] [ Conversation in Spanish ] The emotional core of Cuban music has always been the human voice.

I'm meeting one of the country's finest singers, a woman with a foot in the past and an ear to the future of Cuban song -- Ivette Cepeda.

How are you? -Oh, I'm fine, really.

-So nice to see you. -Really happy to stay here.

So, I've been wanting to meet you for -- for a long time.

Of course, you know, I -- We've -- We've been following your music, and you're, you know, a beautiful singer.

And one of the things that I think distinguishes Cuban music, you know, are the singers, the Cuban singers.

In your words, like, what do you think?

-I think that we have many names, like Barbarito Díez... -Barbarito, yes, of course.

-...Elena Burke... -Elena Burke. -...Moraima Secada.

Oh, my God! What passion!

-Olga Guillot. -Olga Guillot!

-Olga Guillot. -Celia Cruz.

-Celia, of course. -Oh, my God.

-Yeah. -We have many, many names.

-So much music has come out of here.

-Oh, my God.

-So many great songs, too. -Yes.

-One of the songs that I know is one of your favorites is 'Quizás, Quizás, Quizás.'

-You know that Osvaldo Farrés, the composer of this song... -Right.

-...become famous in, you know -- 'Oh, my God.'

And another day, another day.

One day, he asked the producer, 'Who's her?'

And they said, 'I don't know.

Let me ask.

Okay. Who are you?'

'I only a girl in love with you.'

[ Laughs ] Oh, my God!

And he asked her, 'Okay, just tell me where, when, how.'

-[ Laughs ] Well, I'm sure he knew the how.

-And she said, 'Okay, perhaps.'

-Well, perhaps we should sing, 'Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.'

-With all my heart, for you. [ Laughs ] ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ Laughs ] -Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

[ Applause ] -There you go.

In Cuba, improvisation is a way of life.

It's a nation of MacGyvers, not just making do, but making amazing things out of almost nothing.

We're here in the district of Nuevo Vedado in Havana, where we're visiting the studio where The Sweet Lizzy Project records and writes all their music.

They represent a new generation of Cuban musicians, but it's not what you think.

They combine elements of Americana, American indie-pop, rock 'n' roll, and maybe even a little country music.

Wow.

-And this is the place! -This looks great.

Unbelievable.

-Yeah.

-So, you guys did this whole record.

You do all your music in here.

-Yes.

-And you record the drums in here.

-Yes. -And then do you put guitar amplifiers in here, too, and then overdub?

-Yeah. And then I go like this.

-Right, over all the gear and the cables and the pedals and all that.

It's unbelievable, though. It works.

I love it. I mean, I -- You guys -- You guys are amazing.

You have gear.

You've set up this studio in -- in this -- this little apartment.

And I know it must be difficult to -- to just keep it all together.

Can you even shed some light on how you were able to get so much gear?

'Cause I know, you know, you don't have a chain of music stores, and so how were you able to -- to do this?

-Well, it's -- it's kind of complicated, isn't it?

The truth is that we have a lot of friends.

-I know you're working on -- on something new.

I'd love to hear what you're doing.

-Yeah. -Okay. Let's do this.

-Let's try this one.

[ Mid-tempo instrumental music plays ] -♪ I cry for you so many nights ♪ ♪ I tried to hate you more than once ♪ ♪ Convinced myself that I had lost ♪ ♪ And I realized I couldn't stand one minute more ♪ [ Music stops ] -That's great for me. -I can work with that.

-That was awesome. Really, really, really great job.

I mean, you're a great singer, great -- -Would you like to hear the whole song?

-I'd love to hear the whole song.

[ Mid-tempo instrumental music plays ] I love your voice.

-Thank you.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -Music as a universal language has become a cliché simply because it's true.

Look around.

I feel like I'm back in East Nashville or Brooklyn or Austin.

The music is different, but a band is a band is a band no matter where you go.

-♪ ♪ ♪♪ -Once Havana's most exclusive country club, this is now the location of el Instituto Superior de Arte.

This futuristic compound is the home of Cuba's artistic future, its next generation of musicians and artists.

I'm here with one of its students, Patricia Vega Gonzalez-Piñera.

Wow.

-Wow.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Bravo, bravo.

♪♪ In Cuba, time obeys different rules.

People not only spend time together, but make the time, time with family, with friends, time for art, music, and literature, with little television and almost zero Internet.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] On the edge of Havana is Finca Vigía, Lookout Farm, the home of iconic American writer Ernest Hemingway.

This is where he penned his monuments of literature -- 'For Whom The Bell Tolls,' 'Islands in the Stream,' 'Old Man and the Sea' -- earning him the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes.

But in 1960, as the revolution darkened his door, Hemingway fled Cuba believing, wrongly, that he would soon return.

The house, too, seemed to believe it.

Here, time truly stands still.

In a nation where revolutionary leaders and baseball players serve as superstars, Cuba also honors literary heroes like Hemingway and Gabriel García Márquez.

♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] In Márquez's novels, time moves like a phantom.

In his epic work '100 Years of Solitude,' Macondo is an entire town that transcends time.

I have been told of a place here, hidden in the jungle, that embodies the concept of Macondo -- Los Jardines de la Tropical.

Absolutely stunning.

Beautiful.

Wow.

Man, oh, man.

[ Chuckles ] This is unbelievable.

Once a society hotspot, this beautiful beer garden was built a century ago by La Tropical brewing company.

The jungle has now reclaimed it, so it's a bit of a diamond in the rough.

But it still knows how to throw a heck of a party.

[ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -[ Imitates bird whistling ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Yah!

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Yah!

-Hey!

♪♪ Hey!

♪♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -Yah!

[ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -♪ Hey, aaay ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Hey, aaay, yeah ♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪ Oh, oh, oh ♪ If someone's getting high while I sing my song ♪ ♪ To me it's so cool ♪ If you give me some money, never make me cry ♪ ♪ Then I'll give you my heart ♪ And I'm here for you ♪♪ ♪ My head is in the sky ♪ My eyes are open while ♪ I'm scratching in my soul ♪ And I can't get enough ♪ I'll catch you in my paws ♪ I feel you strong inside ♪ It's like a single word ♪ That makes my world so hot ♪ And I fly ♪ Oh, yay-aa-aa-aa [ Guitar solo ] ♪♪ ♪ If someone's getting high while I sing my song to me ♪ ♪ It's so cool ♪ If you give me some money, never make me cry ♪ ♪ Then I'll give you my heart, yeah ♪ ♪ And please don't leave me ♪ I promise I'll be kind ♪ I'll give you another chance ♪ ♪ I'll start to hear my song ♪ Oh, oh ♪ And I can't get enough ♪ I'll paint you in my walls ♪ I feel you strong inside ♪ It's like a single word ♪ That makes my world so hot ♪ And I fly ♪ Oh, yay-aa-aa-aa ♪ Ah, ah ♪ I feel the water on my skin ♪ I feel your touch over my knee ♪ ♪ I feel you ♪ I feel the sun behind my eyes ♪ ♪ I feel my eyes inside yours ♪ I feel you ♪ And I can't get enough ♪ I paint you in my walls ♪ I feel you're strong inside ♪ It's like a single word ♪ That makes my world so hot ♪ And I fly ♪ And I can't, I can't get enough ♪ ♪ I paint you in my walls ♪ And I feel you strong inside ♪ ♪ I feel this strong inside ♪ It's like a single word ♪ It's like a single word ♪ That makes my world so hot ♪ And I fly ♪ Oh ♪ Dah-de-dah, de-dah-de-dah ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Hey!

♪♪ [ Tempo slows ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ Yeah-ah-ah-ah-ah Whoo!

[ Cheers and applause ] Yeah!

Thank you so much!

♪♪ -I'm so happy to have Roberto Fonseca here today.

Havana-born, he's Cuba's top jazz pianist, a musical revolutionary fusing Afro-Cuban mambo and rumba with hard bop and funk, creating a sound where the past, present, and future of Cuban jazz meet.

[ 'Family' plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Trumpet solo ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Musical breakdown ] [ Trumpet solo ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Baritone saxophone solo ] ♪♪ [ Saxophones playing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Keyboard playing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Saxophone solo ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Band plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Band plays main theme ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -Thank you.

-You didn't think I'd come all the way to Cuba and not bring the Mavericks, did you?

[ Cowbell knocking ] [ 'All Night Long' plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ A moment in history ♪ That's what you mean to me ♪ And into the witching hour ♪ Where only your special power ♪ ♪ Can make any blue sky rain ♪ Or keep everything the same ♪ Well, here's what I want to do ♪ ♪ I want to make love to you ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪ As long as we have tonight ♪ For this I would sacrifice ♪ Everything that I want ♪ And all that I've ever known ♪ Don't let this moment by ♪ Now that you're deep inside ♪ You'll make all my dreams come true ♪ ♪ If I should make love to you ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ [ Guitar solo ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Trumpet solo ] [ Audience cheers ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪ Oh, oh ♪ Oh, a-oh ♪ I want to love you all night long ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ Let the sun shine ♪ Let the sun shine in [ Guitar solo ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] [ 'Easy As It Seems' plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪ Things are getting crazy ♪ I bet you understand ♪ The more I think I know ♪ The more I know I can't ♪ So tell me what the point is ♪ With everything you say ♪ Nowhere near the truth almighty ♪ ♪ A bunch of nothing said ♪ Well, do you want to get mean? ♪ ♪ Do you want to get cruel?

♪ Do you think it's wise ♪ To play the fool?

♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba ♪ Take a look around you ♪ It's easy not to see ♪ Building walls between us ♪ Doesn't fix a thing ♪ Ignorance is blinding ♪ They tell you that it's bliss ♪ ♪ They've been saying that for ages ♪ ♪ Will you answer this?

♪ So do you want to get mean?

♪ Do you want to get cruel?

♪ Do you think it's wise ♪ To play the fool?

♪ Do you want to get real?

♪ Do you want to have dreams?

♪ Nothing more than this ♪ Easy as it seems ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba ♪ Well, do you want to get mean? ♪ ♪ Do you want to get cruel?

♪ Do you think it's wise ♪ To play the fool?

♪ Do you want to get real?

♪ Do you want to have dreams?

♪ Nothing more than this ♪ Easy as it seems -Hey!

-♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba -Hey!

-♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba -♪ Hey -♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba-ba ♪ Ba-ba-da-da, ba [ Cheers and applause ] I have dreamed of Cuba my entire life and came with many expectations, but nothing prepared me for the Cuban people's openness and sheer joy of living.

Time moves in many directions here, often at once, but Cuba is moving into the future, a future none of us can know.

I do know I've never been more proud of my own Cuban roots and never more keenly aware of the power of music to bring people together.

[ 'Guantanamera' plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Hey!

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ Hey, yeah ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ Piano solo ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this -To find out more about this ♪♪ ♪♪