Back in 1968, Alfonso Santisteban wanted to color a Spain in black and white. Just landed in Brazil, the composer and arranger, by then a stranger in the world of Spanish song, published his first album, Bossa 68. "It's an avant-garde album, contemporary to the bossa nova in Brazil, "says Carlos Galán, founder of Subterfuge, the record label that has just reissued the album on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. "He was always in love with Brazil. There he met Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sérgio Mendes, Vinícius de Moraes … He brought all that in his music ", says the composer Manel Santisteban, brother of Alfonso, who died in 2013 at the age of 69. Since then, Alfonso Santisteban did not lose his purpose of filling a country installed in the copla with multicolored melodies. He succeeded, although his current recognition is far from the artistic size of his figure.
At a height similar to that of Juan Carlos Calderón, Santisteban was one of the most prolific Spanish composers who developed his career especially in film and television. His were the syntony of programs like Applause, Blah, blah, blah, Grammy or Music and stars. Also from soundtracks for many uncover comedies. It was his most famous work. The tip of the iceberg of a work full of instrumental ingenuity, which began with an album that introduced the bossa nova in Spain. "The silly box is what makes you popular in Spain, but my brother always did what he liked. He made television because he wanted to work, but he never abandoned his love for jazz and bossa nova"Explains Manel. "This was Spain, not the United States. That's why his compositions never worked so well, "he adds.
Subterfuge has reissued in vinyl format Bossa 68 next to Flamenco Pop, the album in which Santisteban in 1969, with its fine touch, mixes flamenco with soul, blues and jazz. Another fascinating work for the time in collaboration with Rafael Ferro, another elegant and accurate arranger. "This album is also special. Denotes the nonconformity of Santisteban, where he faces unsuspected challenges for Spanish music then, "says Galán. Both works feed and reactivate the catalog of Music for a sidereal guateque, where the label from Madrid has already published other albums by the composer Summer of 72 or Alfonso Santisteban and his magical piano.
With his hair, sunglasses and outgoing clothes, Santisteban was the oldest of three brothers of a wealthy family in Franco's Spain. His father Joaquín was a wholesaler of irons, lover of jazz, who introduced to his offspring a taste for Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole or Louis Armstrong. But none as much as Alfonso. "My first memory is to see myself sitting on the knees of my brother when he was three years old while he was teaching me to play the piano at home," recalls Manel, thirteen years younger than Alfonso. "He painted it white because he did not like wood. Such was his passion for jazz that he made school truants and went to our aunt Gloria's house next to the Retiro to learn piano, "he adds.
Thanks to his parents – "my mother was a public relations", according to his son Manel – the house of the Santisteban was a party. "In the living room of my house Rocío Jurado, Nati Mistral, Paco de Lucía, Lola Flores … It was normal to see Bambino with the sheets on his head at four in the morning in the corridors," recalls Manel. Due to his talent, Alfonso, who left the studies in Industrial Engineering for the Conservatory, ended up working for the majority. Memorable was his close collaboration with the rumba Bambino. Already in adulthood and married to the presenter Marisa Medina, Joan Manuel Serrat introduced them, he also ended up having a party with everyone in his own house, where there was another piano and Juan Pardo, María Giménez and Manolo Summers were regulars. "My father was a vividor. I was there all day: Bocaccio, Florida Park … ", says his daughter Silvia. "But I always remember him playing the piano and as someone very sensitive and emotional who loved music."
Without ever leaving to compose by order, Santisteban, grass of the telebasura by its problems with its famous wife, lived a species of second youth when Galán recovered some of its discs for Subterfuge at the beginning of this century. Within the recovery of lounge Spanish, his name sounded more modern, as if molase quote him in circles indies that had nothing to do with this composer who liked to tell the day he met Burt Bacharach. "When he was with us he enjoyed Carlos Coupe, Mastretta and Fangoria", says the founder of Subterfuge. "He always went to his fucking ball," he adds. So much that his hedonistic compositions were almost criminalized by frivolous and catchy among the political current of the Spain of the seventies. They did not fit between the intellectuality of the protest song. "Alfonso Santisteban represented a generation that gave everything for the free Cuba and the dance floor," says Galán. They called it light Spanish music, but the exquisite combination of jazzbossa nova Flamenco and pop of Santisteban was quality music for the perfect guateque.