We went to Juan José Blanco Lozano’s house the second day we were in Havana. Susan had contacted him via the internet and they had become electronic friends so to speak. Juan was an accomplished artist; we became close friends the day we bought a painting. I had no inkling of the close friendship, the fascinating people I would meet, or the things we would do at that time. Juan’s wife, Margarita, was a smart, energetic lovely woman who kept Juan motivated. They lived in a nice home in Miramar with her father, Julio. Julio had been a colonel in the revolution. He owned a restaurant in Las Villas, The Pick’n’ Chick’n, that had been a common meeting ground for the revolutionaries planning the attack on Santa Clara. Julio’s wife, Mariá Dolores “Lolita” Rossell, gave Aleida March refuge when she first came to Santa Clara. Dolores brother was the July 26 coordinator for Las Villas. Their house functioned as a way station on the Rebels’ underground railway. (Anderson, Jon Lee, Becomng Ché). Eventually Aleida would become Ché’s second wife. Dolores had 4 children: Two son’s-now in Miami; two daughters both in Havana: Margarita married to Juan, Claudia married to Bobby Carcasses.
We first met Bobby when he invited us to the El Zorro y el Cuervo (the Fox and the Crow) jazz club in Vedado. Bobby put on a show for us. He sang, played his trumpet, and greeted many of his music friends. Bobby was born in Jamaica where his Cuban parents were diplomats from Cuba. He returned to Cuba at age four years and completed his education there. He was a long jump track star, winning several Latin American championships. He was a team mate of Alberto Juantorena, Cuban Olympian. He started out singing opera, but soon switched to Cuban Music, performing at the Tropicana where he began incorporating bebop and scat influences into his style. He spent a year in Paris playing with Jazz greats Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke. He organized and opened the first Jazz Plaza Festival and continued to play there each year with many of the jazz greats who visited. In 2001 he performed at Los Angeles’ Jazz Festival and according to the review “Bobby stole the show!”
His son is Roberto Carcasses, highly regarded jazz pianist. I have never met Robertito as he is called, he has always been touring when I visited Havana. Roberto has however been making headlines in Cuba for his recent statements re: freedom of expression and access to the internet.. “As we might have expected from an incident as talked-about as asking for political changes in Cuba during a massive official function, musician Roberto Carcasses (RC) has gone from being what he is – a brilliant and innovative artist – to a kind of test case for political militancy on the island.” – read more: Havana Times
“Making a suggestive use of the catchy refrain “I’ve always wanted this”, Carcasses asked for the release of the Cuban Five and Maria (who, I imagine, stands for anyone unjustly imprisoned), an end to the Cuban blockades (maintained by both the United States and Cuba), freedom of information to be able to have an informed opinion and the possibility of being able to choose the country’s president by direct vote.” – See more at: Havana Times
Robertito is one generation past those of his family who were committed revolutionaries and members of the July 26th movement. His parents have worked happily in Cuba. His grandfather entered Havana along with Ché, Camilo Cienfuegoes, and Juan Almeida on January 1, 1959 to prepare the way for Fidel’s Grand Entrada. His mother, uncles and aunts all played with the children of Ché Guevara and Aleida March. Roberto is not speaking against the government, he is merely asking for personal freedom. He is, as in generations before him, a revolutionary soul. Good job!