Buena Vista singer
Saturday 25 March 2006
Wilfredo Pascual (Pío Leyva), singer and songwriter: born Morón, Cuba 5 May 1917; married (one daughter); died Havana 23 March 2006.
The Cuban sonero Pío Leyva was best known to international audiences as a member of the group of veteran musicians who performed as the Buena Vista Social Club. Although he wasn't involved in Ry Cooder's multi-million-selling-album project of that name, the diminutive Leyva did feature prominently in Wim Wenders's companion documentary some two years later, and was memorably seen exploring the streets of New York alongside Manuel "Puntillita" Licea.
Known to his fans as "El Montunero de Cuba" in tribute to his improvisational skills - a montunero sonero specialises in extemporisation - he was an accomplished vocalist and songwriter who cut over 25 albums and worked successfully alongside seminal figures such as Beny Moré, Compay Segundo and Bebo Valdés.
Born in Morón, Cuba, in 1917, he played the bongos as a child before eventually finding work as a singer, in 1932, with Juanito Blez's band Conjunto Caribe. Over the next few years he performed with a succession of bands, including the Orquesta de Jesús Montago, the Orquesta Raqueteros del Swing, Orquesta del Paseiro and the Sexteto Colón. He formed a trio sponsored by a local brand of coffee, Café El Angel, and became a popular fixture on the radio.
By the late 1950s he was based in Havana, signed to RCA Victor, and working alongside major acts such as the pianist Bebo Valdés and Compay Segundo. In March 1957 he was recording with Segundo when rebels attacked Fulgencio Batista's presidential palace in Havana. With the sound of street fighting clearly audible in the studio the session inevitably came to a halt, though not before several sides were completed, allegedly with gunshots echoing faintly in the background.
Over the ensuing decades his discs continued to sell well and he saw a number of his songs emerge as son classics, including "Un Jardinero de Amor", "Chapaleando" and, especially, "Francisco Guayabal", which is now indelibly associated with the great Beny Moré. He appeared frequently on television variety shows and toured regularly in Spanish-speaking countries such as Panama, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. When, in 1991, he visited West Africa, he was surprised to discover a substantial fan-base there, too.
In 1996 he contributed "El Mentiroso" to Juan De Marcos' Afro-Cuban All Stars project and a year later was reunited with Segundo as they revisited their old classics "La Ternera" and "La Juma del Ayer" on the album Lo Mejor de la Vida. Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club (1997) became something of a phenomenon in introducing the world to the likes of Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, Omara Portuondo and Compay Segundo. It was followed, in 1999, by Wim Wenders's Oscar-nominated documentary of the same name that depicted the recording of Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...