Cuba's Compay Segundo, born Francisco Repilado, turns 93 in November--he's got a right to take it easy. A charter member of the band Ry Cooder assembled for his Buena Vista Social Club project (he wrote its de facto theme song, "Chan Chan," in addition to hundreds more early son compositions), Segundo began performing in the 20s, when Cuban music embraced a European stateliness. His new album, Calle Salud (Nonesuch), is infused with a sense of calm, its mix of delicately strummed acoustic guitars and gentle but infectious percussion graciously augmented by a trio of sweet-voiced clarinets. True to his nickname--which means "second voice"--Segundo tends to stay in the background, singing behind Hugo Garzon and, on "Morir de amor," legendary French crooner Charles Aznavour, and playing well-articulated lines on armonico, a seven-string hybrid guitar of his own design. He doesn't play clarinet on the record, but he has a special connection to the instrument: he played it as a member of the legendary outfit Conjunto Matamoros in the 40s. This performance--which will feature the classically trained clarinetists from the album as well as Garzon, guitarist Benito Suarez, upright bassist Salvador Repilado, and percussionist Rafael Fournier--is Segundo's Chicago debut. Monday, 8 PM, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/DRO East West.