The Graffiti & Doors of Havana – BALKAN NEWS MAGAZINE

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GUESS WHO?

There has always been a strong bond between Bulgaria and Cuba, and it is not just due to communism, but to music, and the performing arts. Fidel and his brother, now President Raul Castro liked to visit Bulgaria, not just because of a cultural compatibility, but because – I am told by a reliable source – in the past, there were certain romantic attachments as well.

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DAVID BRADISH

As an early visitor to Sofia, I soon discovered a whole new raft of jazz musicians and performers, in and around the city, amongst whom was Cuban jazz celebrity and  tenor saxophone player, Orlando Sanchez De Soto. Now a rising star in new York, at the time of my arrival in Bulgaria, he was then making waves in the jazz venues of Bulgaria, but more importantly, he’s remained my friend ever since, and for 25 years.

DAVID & PUCHO LOPEZ

Albeit via Facebook and through jazz, this also applies to David Bradish. An American jazz singer and percussionist , who I met via Orlando, we both share a long lasting love for Cuba. Although he now resides in Sweden, he spends half his year amongst the people of Cuba, enjoying the sights and sounds of Havana, and performing his music. Having only recently returned to Stockholm, he has brought a portfolio of photo’s of graffiti with him – some old and some new – which does much to express the modern history of Cuba, its politics and its music. The Editor

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David Bradish Writes – I have visited Cuba since 1999. Every year up to 2017, it now makes an unbelievable eighteen years. Most of the time it’s only for a 6 month visit, because I am a foreign musician, but, by working in Havana, I have become somewhat well established, as a Jazz Singer and Bongo player. You can find my stuff on YouTube, with me playing or singing.

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This year it was different, because I had planned to make a recording, and forming a small band, to play around Havana’s small Jazz scene. Jazz Cafe, La Zorro Y El Cuervo, and CASA De Musica in Mirimar, are the 3 main places but there are others too. Normally I play these clubs and sometimes more, with many different Cuban musicians and bands. With some bands I sit in; ones like Havana Compass, Bobby Carcasses, Cuba Jazz,Yasek Manzanos, Jorje Louis Pacheco, and many more.

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What happened to me was unfortunate, because my throat swelled up on January 10th, and I had to go to hospital. I couldn’t speak, let alone sing, and I was in pain. The doctor gave me an anti Inflamation medicine, to reduce the swelling, and to see if I had throat Cancer. Luckily, my second visit showed I had bad open lesions on my vocal chords. This led to an immediate operation, after which to recover, I had to remain 100% silent; I couldn’t say a word.

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I had my Phone Camera with me, and since I couldn’t risk talking, I spent my days photographing Havana graffiti. I had never noticed it before, but the more I looked the more I found. This led to me going crazy – nothing new there – and I soon found myself walking, looking and photographing,  districts in Havana most tourists never see.

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I thought  I really had a unique Graffiti collection, but on returning to Stockholm – after after only 2 months in Havana – I discovered there is quite a bit of Cuban Graffiti on the net. Some  of the artists are well known, and there are articles about them, but what I noticed was I had also photographed some graffiti the net didn’t have. I think that’s because I have been living on and off in Havana for 18 years. There are places I have been that no tourist knows about. Even Cubans are sometimes amazed at my knowledge of the Cuban capital.

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Havana is just an outrageous city, and built long ago, it has an architecture which is quite unique, with such a variety of gorgeous houses. Sometimes the crumbling structures have a beauty as fine as the Graffiti itself, and some of the doors and walls are so similar to the graffiti, I just had to shoot them too.

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Anyway, here’s a visual experience of what Havana has to offer, if you dig a little deeper, and explore Havana’s many streets.

STORY & PHOTOGRAPHS by DAVID BRADISH

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