ALFREDO LINARES Interview by Roberto Ernesto Gyemant (span) / Translation by Listen Recovery (eng) Part 2

continue from Part 1

alfredo cover RC

The older people in the ‘casetas’ (discotecas/night clubs) and the youth in the ‘agualulos’ (house parties)?

No really, in the ‘casetas’ you could find various age differences, but logically, the youth where always outnumber, right?

You have told me that the “Caleños” (born in Cali, Colombia) are born to be part of the “rumba” (from music to dance)

You could see kids as young as 7 years old, dancing like adults.  Till today, they have a ballet of salsa here (Cali), where lots of kids participate. This is very admirable… really!

Is marvelous!, How did you received you famous nick-name of Alfredo “SABOR” Linares?

Well… I was just a musican, that had to go through various obstacles to get a job or find work. To go to a bbq or a radio or tv station and say… “I’m Here!”… When I was working in Venezuela at a tv show, a music artist well known arrived and asked the tv director. “I’m looking  some thing with “sabor” (taste).  Our director replied.  “Look!, there it is, you got: Frank “El Pavo” Hernandez (legendary venezuelan percussionist, “Romerito” in the bass and Alfredo Linares,  ¿Que mas sabor usted quiere? (How much more flavor do you want?).

You have a song title “Arrollando”. What is that mean?

To wipe out anything that gets in your way… (from the Spanish verve “arrollar”)

Another one is title “Linares viene tumbando”. Is that similar?

Yes, kind off. But TUMBANDO signifieds also “montuno”.  And also means, “you are gettin’ rid off people in combat”

This are very strong words to use as titles.  Could it be, like you told me before, That you had to fight to open doors in Peru’s music world, because it was a very discreet in music.

Clearly!, In those times we fought against a blind generation.  There where very few that understood what we where doing, genres like Cumbias and other dominated.

Like Tropical music but more “Salon” (ballroom music)

No, it was more like “the music of common people”

And how was music commercially ending the 50’s in Peru?

It was mainly guitar and percussion

They have talked to me about LUCHO ROSPIGLIOSI, the property owner of “El Sabroso” (the tasty one) in the Port of CALLO, and how he untroduced salsa in Peru, when he would bring LP’s from Puerto Rico and New York.  The records that you bought, did you buy them at his location?

Do not forget that we had a huge influence from Cuba, because the goverment of Velasco Alvarado was the only nation that had relations with Cuba after the 60’s, that’s why the musicans from Cuba came to Lima to play. But yes, those records where hard to get, Lucho’s records cost too much money at those times.  If I really wanted the records, I had ways to get it.  I used to buy stuff like Dave Brubeck who did “cool jazz”, it was something new.  I also listen to Sunny Rollins, Coltrane, McCoy Tyler, Jimmy Harrison and the John Coltrane’s Quartet… they where more agressive.  I was inspired by their sets, it was very free, with no rules in music.

So I was in between those two worlds, and it wasn’t opposit from one another, both genres had their ‘thang’ from the first note till the last one.  The more we got closer to Jazz the more free we felt making music.  We would use all that we learned in Jazz in a very sucure way as well as free style.

At the same time, you experimented with Folklore music from Peru, also styles from Mexico and the Afro-Antillana sounds like the “guarachas, the sones, the guaguanco, etc.

Going a before that we got the “Danzon”, and this style cause a very interest sensation between Mexico and Cuba, because both countries played “danzon” and both would argue who invented the genre.  But either way it was another sound we adopted during that time.  During that particular time I was playing a danzon call “Macambo” and it was with a great orquestra.

Did the Danzon had some of  Montuno?

No, for sure not!, Danzon was more a style of white outfits, when it became a treand to wear all white, white shoes, white pants, just like Cubans and Mexicans where doing it, and later on we (Peruvians) adopted the same style.  In Colombia you can persive it frequently, is typical for a “Caleño” to wear white pants and white shoes.

Let’s go back to Peru, to Lima.  Is the year 1960 and you are 16 years old. What where you doing?

Studing!. We to school during the day and in the afternoon will continue the concervatory.  I did this since I was 10 years old till I was 16.

Which is the first Montuno that you heard? I know you like to play tangos, jazz, classical music but there is something special with you and Montuno.  Very few people in the world had played  a Montuno with so much flavor like you have.

That comes from Peru having a strong connection with Cuba.  To coroborate this, Mane Nieto, a panamenian pianist, knows, Mane started with the bongo.

I saw Mane, he’s incredible.  He plays every weekend in Panama, with La Orquesta de Freddy Anglin. I didn’t know he was a “bongoncero” (bongo player)

It was for the Orquestra of…

Armando Boza?

Yes, that’s it!. Back then, Manito Johnson (sonero Panameño) was also there… and changed from bongo to piano.  But he already had learned how to play the “tumbao”.  And I, during that time, I was working in the same place trying to assimilate everything I could, I would observed.


Yes, and what! Mane is all talent!

He didn’t ready music.

But I did. And I sat and started to write his tunes.  I would transcribe all that I could hear, I memorized it. I was 14-15 years old.

How much older was Mane: 5 to 6?

Something like that, give or take.  But we him, who knows.  The black race aged very well.  He left the orquestra of Boza and started to work in Lima with Mr. Koky Palacios, who I have mention before.  Koky was the guy who sang “Vuelve”.

In the LP of Orquesta Madison?

Exactly.  He had his own band and Mane played with him.  That is how I learned the “tumbao” of Montuno from Mane Nieto.

This complets a circle of information.  Because when I saw Mane I appreciated that it sounded just like the 1st record I found of yours.

That is right!, I assimilated Mane, then I would observed how he would arrange, then, night by night I would later reached that nice sound of Tumbao that any pianist had played in Peru.  Chanto Alcanzar, who played with The Sonora Sensacion, was also very good.  In Peru we had the Sonora Sensacion,  The Sonora of Lucho Macedo, The Sonora Antillana de Nico Estrada.  There was many more bands, Armando Boza from Panama, Beny More who came with the Oquestra of Perez Prado and they would stay in Bolivar Hotel in Lima. One of the best places to stay in Peru.  During that period Vitin Paz would also play there.  And lots of Cuban pianist playing. At the same time, I was learning everything that was sorrounding me.

And from the Peruvians, Did you like the Orquestra Boza?

Of course, the Panamenians during that era had already been doing that style, way before than us, the ‘antillana music’.  And also I’m sure because the Cuban musican that would go to Panama. Various Cubans stayed in Peru, and this helped Peru in its percussion, they would teached all the local musican .

Linares contributions LPs

Coco Lagos had a cuban profesor, right?

Yes it was a profesor that was living in Peru and had an extensive skill in rhythms. What else? Ah!, He was a precussionist that knew his rhythms well.  That’s why they set the standard, and later we inplemented our own sounds.

The singer Tony from Cuba was an authentic Cuban; he sang “El Pito”,  did the corus and brought the “clave”.  And also he’s “compadre” was Sr. Alberto Castillo, a flute player.  Also at the time we listen to Peruchin, Bebo Valdez, Tojo Jimenez, Niño Rivera, El Tresista, CARAMBA! That’s History!

Cachao Y su Ritmo Caliente?

Yes, also Cachao.  But perhaps the most common sounds in Peru was La Sonora Matancera.  Cachao was someone being a musican, you would listen and get informed.


How old where you, 15?

At that age, I was already working in music, but my mother didn’t want me to stay up too late.  The dances in Peru would start around 11pm till 4am or till 5am.

What type of social status was the people that attended this events till late, rich people of middle class?

Mainly, middle class, normal.  The dances where more socialbe; you could find different types of people, the mayority middle class.  I was around 15 years old.  My energy took me to start me own Sonora and it was with the help of a trombonist, he would do arrangements and wrote music.  That is how we formed our Sonora, it was not big, but we had a great sound.  Two trumpets and the timbales with the bombo, we used a bombo.

What is a “Bombo”?

Is part of the drum set, the timbalero plays it.  Is a lower bass drum, that you play with your foot.

Who was the timbalero?

A young guy, We did everything for fun. He played with one stick the little timbales, they where small instruments.  Very similar to the Sonora Matancera.  The “Timbalitos” was almost an exact replica of the ones that the Sonora Matancera used in their equipment, and 2 or 3 congas and the vocalist.

and the Pianist.

Correct!, And now here is something that a lot of people do not know. We wanted for Lucho Macedo to check us out, because he was famous.  He called us and asked us to play with him… Good! we came to an agreement, our band played and Lucho Macedo.  Macedo comes to the club for a bit, Plays a few sets for a few minutes.

Was Macedo a pinist?

Yes he was.

Was he bother by a kid named Alfredo Linares who played the piano very well?

Well, realistic there was a good partnership with him.  He used us in a commercial sense, he made lots of money.  We played in various dances, but he didn’t pay us well (not enough).  So at the moment I wasn’t with the Sonora Linares, I was playing for the Sonora de Lucho Macedo.


So you didn’t play the piano?

No, did not played.  Macedo came  to the club by nigtht and did a quick show.  Lucho Macedo… Ah! he played one set, then he left.  While everybody will scream his name, “Lucho Macedo!”.  After that ironically he sue me under the Musicans Union.


My inexperience sadly, got me in a contract and an agreement with them.  It was becuse he had asked me to play a gig, and instead I did a different one, and he sue me.

That smelled like it was an excuss to get you out.

I understand now, follow me here.  Practically it was not to exclude me from music, but it was more to neutralized me.  That cause a little war between us. This one grew with the years, but it didn’t take too long till my mom visiting the musicans union to excuse me about the incident with Lucho.  Since I was a minor still.

Like at your 16 17 years old?

I was 16, Imagen an adolence getting in fights / arguments with a 35 year old.

He was mad regardless, he knew that inside of you was a genious

With time, things like this are fogotten.  Besides, it flourish later in the news, that he had a brother who played the piano very well, even better than Lucho.  But Lucho never did anything with him.  As a matter of fact, Lucho recorded and not his brother, that is how he made his name famous.

When did  you started to play with Nico Estrada?

Around 17, my goal was to focus in Jazz.  With Nico we recorded “A La calle 13”

LP or 45 rpm?

An Album.  (Alfredito vocals) “Yo me voy, a la calle 13 a gozar” / I’m going to 13th street to enjoy myself

Was it your arrangements?

No, During this time, the music did not traveled to Colombia.  “Calle 13” was from Colombia.  But the people from Argentina loved it, they appreciated more than cumbias.  That is where Nico got the proposition to build a band.

So you when to Argentina to play for a month?

They gave me a permition since I was under age,  I was 18, during that time 18 was still consider under age not an adult. It was 21 back then.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: