Pio Leyva - Obituaries - News - The Independent

Pio Leyva

Buena Vista singer


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.

Paul Wadey

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week