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SpanishEnglishJosé "Nino" Olivares Pérez
grupos/groups: Changüí de Guantánamo, El Siboney, Septeto Jóvenes del Guaso
grabaciones/recordings: Changüí de Guantánamo: "Bongó de Monte" , Changüí de Guantánamo: "Changüí y Cumbancha, ahora sí"
The late Nino Olivares, also known as Nino Marimba, was one of the most well-known faces in changüí having played marimbula with Changüí de Guantánamo since 1960, nearly 50 years. A newcomer to changüí myself I only met him on a couple of occasions: the Changüí Festival in Guantánamo, a genuine changüí at Casa de Pipi in Yateras and finally in Paris where I was able to record a short interview with him. Although I barely knew him, with his passing I feel a great sense of loss. To me Nino Olivares was the perfect respresentative of a typical changüisero. Rather than presume to eulogize him based on the little I know, I will let Nino speak for himself so others can also get to know him, if only a little. Below is the translation of the brief introduction that he made of himself backstage in Paris. To watch the video of the interview (in Spanish) click here or on the photo below. [Michelle White January 2010]
"To play…well I’ll tell you I began to play when I was at least 21 years old, 21 years old. I didn’t play changüí, I played septeto when the septeto used marimba. At that time there wasn’t any bass, later came the contrabass and pepepe…But in the decade when I began to play, I began to play marimba as if it were a [son] septeto, as they were called at that time. And later the years passed and this with the septeto ended, I got married and started to struggle with daily life. I came from there from my work, from the colony from wherever, Saturdays and Sundays I spent the days at the changüís that they gave in the north, my neighborhood. There they began on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and sometimes ended on Monday. There rum, punch and fried codfish were sold, everything was sold in these times. And then many years passed, for many years I continued my work, all while the Latamblet brothers: Chito, Arturo Latamblet, the one named Tambrón, were checking me out. And he said ‘Well we’re looking for a marimbero to play’. At this time I was working in construction. I said “look, I can’t leave construction because I have a salary and I can’t”. He says, “Look, tonight is noche de Guaso in the park”. He says, “Nino I would like you to go, to go”. I say, “I’ll do all I can to go”. At that time there was an office of culture in front of the park. I had to take off, for, to take off the clothes I was wearing. I put on black pants and a guayaberita and went to do my noche de Guaso. When I finished I had to give back the pants and the guayabera. And I continued like that and they started to pay me five pesos for the work that I did. And I continued hammering away at my work and hammering away at the changüí with the… with Chito Latamblet the guy I told you about. And I say, well, when the president of the guará came, that I have to have, to leave the Micom (construction company?), or enter, am, I took and I gave him, “look, look I’m going to stay with the Changüí”…and that's how I got all the way here. Until now, that's it for now." José Nino Olivares Pérez - 5 September 2008 Paris, France
Nino at a changüí at Casa de Pipi in Yateras, December 21, 2007