Thursday, October 30, 2008

Los Afortunados - Yambu

Here we have a special treat. If you notice, the lead singer is non other than the great Ernesto "El Gato" Gatel, whose laid back voice work really well with this yambu. On tumbas you have Puntilla's son Miguel who is playing some interesting stuff, especially since he has bata on the side next to him. Mikel Sotolongo is on guagua, Pedrito Martinez and Emilio Barreto are on coro. Unfortunately I can't think of the name of the female corista, I apologize deeply for my ignorance.

Pedrito and El Gato were on tour with Jane Bunnett at the time and lucky for us they were able to work with Felix and his group.

*film courtesy of Felix Sanabria

El Rumbero speaks out....

When I began videotaping rumbas I had it in mind to likewise document the thoughts of those who were making the music. The "stars" always get all the press and praise but there are hundreds of great drummers, singers and dancers of rumba that are only known within that small circle of rumberos. In Ralph I have found a like minded brother and Sentimientomanana is an outward expression of those inner thoughts. Ralph's efforts have provided us with a platform to share another view of this most joyful human expression. Here are segments of informal street interviews, conducted during a rumba on a street in NYC. Yeyito Flores, Raphael Pacheco and Beatrice share their experiences with us. Yeyito and Beatrice have been fixtures in the NY rumba scene for well over 20 years. Pacheco was Armando's right hand man, responsible for lighting, audio and filming of many of the Rumbaceras that occured on 182nd St. from 1980-2000. Pacheco and Armando have both passed on, may they rest in peace, but their legacy will live well after them.

Que Viva Armando's RUMBACERA

This was one of those really good nights on 182nd St and Amsterdam Ave. The date was 7/3/99, July 4th eve and folks were in a party mood. We have spoken much about Manuel "El Llanero Solitario" as of late. Well here he is kicking things off on lead vocal soon to be followed by "Chino El Venezolano." The drummers are Jose on tres, Rene Lopez II on tumbadora and Eric, Angel and Yeyito taking turns on quinto. Beatrice joins later on tumbadora. Beatrice is one of the few woman that can hang with the fellas and has much respect. There are many more usual suspects in the coro "miyare" that formed to push the rumba. Suffice it to say, a great time was had by all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Puntilla Y Su Nueva Generacion - Doc Part 2

Here is part 2 of Puntilla's Nueva Generacion, featuring Manuel Martinez "El Llanero Solitario" on lead vocals, and Felix on quinto alongside two of his mentors, the late Puntilla on tumbador, and the late Pepe Calabaza on tres dos. Enjoy.

*film courtesy of Felix Sanabria

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Puntilla Y Su Nueva Generacion - Doc Part 1

When I went to Felix's place on Friday night I was literally blown away at all the great and rare video that he had in his collection. I owe Felix alot, he is my first real teacher and one of the main reasons why I am doing what I do.

Felix showed me some great video of a French Documentary on the late Orlando "Puntilla" Rios (ibae). In this first segment you have Puntilla and his grupo playing bata. Its important to note the people that are playing in this clip. You have the late Pepe Calabaza (ibae) on iya, Papo Sterling on itotele, and Roberto Borrell on okonkolo. In the ankori section you have Felix, Freddy "El Super", Lazaro Bonilla, Evelyn Smart, and of course Puntilla as the akpwon.

*film courtesy of Felix Sanabria


I was in NY this past weekend, so I haven't been around, but I brought back many a goodie for all you bloggees and bloggettes.

For now check out this event sure to send shivers down you spine.

Those ghastly ghouls from Ilu Aye will be at La Pregunta scaring the bejeezus out of anyone that dare to take the trip uptown on Friday. Don't say I didn't warn you...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rumba en El Bronx

The Bronx has always had it's fair share of rumbas y rumberos. At one time, you could find a rumba on any number of Kelly St. or St. James. Now for the most part they are relegated to indoor venues like the Sport's Bar on Castle Hill. The drummers, to their credit do their best to keep the outdoor free feel of the real rumba despite the surroundings. Here, members of Ilu Aye and Chino and Cece tear it up. Recorded 4/10/05.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

El Tren de la Rumba

Often overshadowed by a tumbador, tres dos, or quinto. The "guagua" is probably one of the most underrated ingredients for a swinging rumba. I have heard rumbas that start out only on clave and drums, but when they bring in the guagua, fuhgedaboutit!

Guagua actually means "bus" in some Latin American cultures, but I would describe its role as train-like as well, because while carrying the rhythm is also pushes. Diosdado Ramos playes a great guagua (Munequitos de Matanzas), Fidel Tavares (Ilu Aye), and so does Lazaro Rizo (Ven Tu Rumbero, Afrekete Iyabakua, Rumberos de Cuba) whom while playing guagua sings a hell of a duo.

Onto the subject at hand, the guagua. Known as "palitos", "cucharas", "cascara", "cata", etc...this indespensible and simple piece of bamboo (or box, side of conga, or jam block) exemplifies the concept of "less is more". A well played guagua is not too loud, steady and tasteful. The only problem is that getting a decent piece of bamboo is easier said then done in these parts. They are either too thin, cracked already, or too small. It seems that my pal Geordie over in California seems to be tackling this epidemic head on.

I don't know where he gets his bamboo, but Geordie Van Der Bosch is doing something right. The pieces are thick, non-cracked, and they look great. I put in order a couple of weeks ago, and just recieved my guagua, all nicely packed and ready pa' rumbiar. Geordie is part of the burgeoning San Francisco rumba scene, and has great respect for the culture. He is currently taking lessons with Sandy Perez of Afrocuba de Matanzas fame.

(Sandy Perez, Geordie, Photo Credit: Geordie)

Geordie is a cool cat to deal with, he is reliable, and his guaguas are second to none. I don't know if he is openly taking orders but if you are interested drop me a line and I will pass it along. As far as I know for the time being he is selling his guaguas for $28 a piece (includes shipping), but you'd have to check with the man himself for confirmation on that.

(more Guaguas, Photo Credit: Geordie)

* Keep this up Geordie and I'm going to start calling you "Guagua" Van Der Bosch. Kinda has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Orlando "Puntilla" Rios - Herencia Latina

I stumbled upon a great little page on the Herencia Latina website. An homenaje to the late great Puntilla.

(click on the pic to see the article)

Oyu Oro

*I am planning on attending this event on the 25th, so if you plan on being there don't be a stranger.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

July 4th weekend in Totico's backyard. 7/3/99

Here is a rare peek into the backyard of a true living legend. Totico invited his Guiro and Bata group members and a few others to have a jam on the July 4th weekend. Among them are Victor Montanez on guagua, Rene Lopez II and Carlos Sanchez on bata, Julio Romero and Louie Estrella on bass and myself on tres golpe and tumbadora. Here we see Totico both sing and play quinto. Zunilda his wife, dabs the sweat off of his forehead...its was 105 in the shade that day!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Johnny Conga lets his hands do the talking

Performer/Teacher/Radio DJ, Johnny Conga was my very first teacher way back in '72. He has travelled the world several times playing with notables such as Gloria Gaynor and Sergio Mendes to name just two. Now residing in Seattle, JC continues to perform with several local groups. He has developed a unique teaching concept where the student stays with him for a week and works on a variety of exercises, techniques and rhythms...a boot camp for congas so to speak. His contact information is available on this blog. This video will give you a chance to see what a capable percussionist he truly is. El Ruso

Back To Bahia with OGANS @ Lincoln Center

The Lincoln Center Out Of Doors concert series has been presenting the music of diverse cultures for well over 25 years. Working in collaboration with organizations such as the Caribbean Culture Center, these great concerts are made available to the public absolutely free. Here I will share another segment of the performance where Ogans was one of the featured groups.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Skip "Brinquito" Burney

When I first became really interested in learning afro cuban rhythms, I called Puntilla. Puntilla was not teaching at the time and the first person he recommended was a cat named "Skip". Puntilla had called Skip, "un tambolero completo". I had not heard of Skip before talking to Puntilla so I was real curious as to what he knew and what he could teach me. Puntilla gave me Skip's number and I called him at his place on West Farms. Now Skip is a rather tough cat to get a hold of, but I was able to talk to him.

I never got to speak to Skip after this, and a couple of years have passed. I never took any lessons with him, but I have been trying to get in touch with him ever since.

(Skip Burney, Photo Credit: Skip Burney)

I have tried to find as much info as I possible could about Skip, here is some info that I got off of a workshop that he was doing 2002.

Born Kenneth Benjimen Burney in the Bronx on July 20, 1953, Skip was tutored beginning at the age of 8 by his mother, Madame Lucille Burney, who along with Leontyne Price, Inid Dale and Chancy Northern were among the first black musicians at the Julliard School of Music. At 13, Skip met Pancho Mora, a Yoruba priest, and was introduced toYoruba culture. After attending Juliard and receiving a master's degree in Theory & Composition, Skip studied & performed with Baba Chief Hawthorne Bey, Julito Collazo, Machito, Patato Valdez, Totico, the national Ballet of Guinea, Tito Puente, Orestes Vilato, and Chico Perez. Skip was introduced to Orlando "Puntilla" Rios, who has become Skip's mentor and padrino (godfather) in the Anya society. Skip, whom Downbeat Magazine has called "the Charlie Parker of drumming," has also studied trap drumming with the likes of Roy Brook, Louis Haye, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins.

Here is another write up on Skip (from a workshop in 08'):

Skip Burney ‘aka’ Brinquito graduated with a Masters in Voice from Julliard. He has since studied Afro-Cuban percussion with Julito Collazo, Lazaro Galarraga, Hector Hernandez ‘aka’ Flaco, Mongo Santamaria and Armando Peraza.
He met his godfather, Orlando Antonio Rios Alfonso ‘aka’ Puntilla. Skip performs with Puntilla in the group New Generation (Nueva Generacion). In 2002, he went to Cuba with Puntilla and was initiated into the priesthood of Aganju.
Skip has recorded and performed with Karen Briggs, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Chaka Kahn, Monyongo Jackson and the Jungle Book Band, Bill Summers, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Dianne Reeves, Tanya Leon, Sting, Vinx, Phil Collins, Cirque De Soile, John Mac Laughlin, Gene Golden and Quinto Mayor, Saoco, Edwin Bonillia, Lefty Perez, Tito Allen, Charlie Palmieri, Ray Santiago, Stanley Clark, Bradford Marcelis, Trelok Gurtu, and Nu Guajiro.

He currently heads his Afro Cuban Ensemble, Eru Chambo and his latin jazz band, Quimbombo.

(Skip on quinto w/ Quinto Mayor, Video Credit: Barry Cox)

My main goal (as if I don't mention it on almost every blog post) is to make sure these great musicians/percussionists/rumberos are given the credit they deserve. Skip definitely fits this criteria. Hopefully I will be able to hook up with him in the future and maybe do an interview.

In the meantime if you want to listen to Skip, here are a couple of recordings that he has been on (unfortunately I don't have a full discography).

Mark Weinstein & Cuban Roots- Algo Mas

Ray Santiago- Latin Up

Mark Sanders has some great video of Skip playing quinto and tres dos on his blog.

Monday, October 13, 2008

So you want to learn about cajon?

(Cuero Y Cajon 2005, l- r: Luciano, Pedro, ethnomusicologist Nolan Warden, Silvano, Photo Credit: Nolan Warden)

A couple of years ago, ethnomusicologist Nolan Warden had put out a recording by a Cajon group out of Marianao aptly titled Grupo Cuero y Cajon - "Musica Folklorica de Cuba".

Here are the credits:

Pedro Pozo Pedroso: Musical Director, Cajon (Wooden Box), Vocals Silvano Pozo Pedroso: Tumbadora (Conga), Vocals Dairon Rodriguez Perlez (seated): Guagua, Guataca (Hoe Blade), Vocals Lekiam Aguilar Guerrero: Representation/Director, Vocals Luciano Silverio Ochandarena: Lead Vocals, Achere (Maraca)

Now, the commercial recording is one thing, then Nolan puts out a whole 212 page thesis on "Cajon Pa' Los Muertos", then he adds a dvd of live performances of the group and if that weren't enough he includes 3 cd's of live music from ceremonies as well. When he first put this monstrosity of a term paper out he was selling if for $15 I think. Needless to say I was all over it, and ordered my packet right away. I am happy to say that is looks like a publisher bought the rights to publish his work and you can buy yours at Amazon. Although its not going for 15 bucks, it is well worth it.

Its seems that at very young age our friend Nolan is forging quite a name for himself. I along with the familia @ Sentimiento Manana, want to congratulate him on his accomplishments and at the same time ask, "Hey Nolan, what else do you have in store for us...?"

(Small audio clip so you can get a taste, if you want more you know where to go)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alma Moyo

(Alma Moyo, w/ Harry Belafonte, Bob Thompson, Daniel Dawson, Photo Credit: Alma Moyo)

I am trying to get in touch with Alex LaSalle. He is the leader/lead singer of Alma Moyo one of the great bomba y plena groups in the city. I don't have much information on them yet, but hopefully that won't be the case for too much longer. Their repertoire consists of some pretty classic bombas since Alex himself has done extensive research at various institutions that hold in their collections certain bombas from yesteryear.

Here is a little info about Alex from "The Legacy Circle".

From Moca, Puerto Rico, Alex is the founder and musical director of Alma Moyó. He is a skilled percussionist, songwriter and singer whose versatile musical talents lend themselves to singing Afro-Boricua, Afro-Dominican, Afro- Cuban and Haitian traditional music, including Rara, Palo and Salve, Bomba, Plena, and Musica Jibara. Alex is fluent in the Afro-Cuban Kongo language and an avid cultural researcher and oral historian. He has presented lectures on Afro-Puerto Rican spirituality and culture and Pan-Caribbean and African cultural connections for educators and students at Yale University, El Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico, Long Island University, Columbia University, New York University, Tufts University, and others. A teaching artist in the public schools of New York City , Alex has taught Pre-K through adult age populations in the South Bronx and City-wide and has performed with such groups as William Cepeda’s Afro-Boricua, Pa'lo Monte, Ntima Ngoma Mayombe, La 21 Division, Son del Batey, and Los Tambores de Felix Alduen, and now Los Pleneros de la 21. Alexander is also a specialist in Sance, a spiritual system that evolved from Vodoun practices in Puerto Rico and throughout the major Antilles in the early 1800's. He is also the Bakonfula (soon to be steward) to the oldest house of Palo Mayombe in Cuba, La Casa de Batalla Sacara Empeño. He hails from an old lineage of healers, herbalists, and spiritualists of traditional African religious and spiritual ways of life.

According to Manuela Arciniegas, Alma Moyo will be putting out an album soon, so as soon as I know more, so will you. In the meantime check out this great video showing Alma Moyo, and Obanilu Allende marcando as only he can.

(Alma Moyo, Video Credit: bosefod)

* Alex if you happen to be reading this drop me a line...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guiro - Izzy, Jose & Willie

Totico had one of the best guiro groups in the city for a long time. Willie mentioned a time when he didn't see the beach for about 12 years because he was so busy playing guiros and such. Just recently Izzy Davila, Jose Rivera, and Willie recorded a guiro that they did in Jersey. I wanted to post a snippet from the oro so you can get an idea of how they sound.

Now keep in mind its just Izzy, Jose and Willie. Izzy is the akpwon, playing guataca and singing coro, Jose is playing caja and singing coro, and Willie is playing agbe and singing coro. Not a small feat by any means.

Hope you enjoy.

*photo credits: Allen Spatz, Izzy Davila, Ralph Duque

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Michael Rodriguez & Felix

Willie posted a great video on Street Level, with Mark Weinstein at the Taller Latino Americano on the Upper West Side. A couple of minutes into the tune, Mike and Felix (who were playing the tumbas) get a chance to stretch out. I wanted to highlight this segment in order to show the late Mike Rodriguez getting down.

Not only that but I happened to be checking out Emilio Barreto's site and in the video tab there is an excerpt to a Santisimo lecture. Emilio is giving the lecture, Gina Iyaleo is dancing, Felix is on Iya, Brandon Rosser is on Itotele, and guess who is on okonkolo? Hmmm?....

Check it out and see for yourself.

Puntilla's Crew Continued....

Felix asked me to add these name to the list of Puntilla luminaries....

Eddie Bobe
Alberto Serrano
Tony Rosa
Rene Lopez Jr.
Jerry Gonzalez

Btw...check out this great/rare pic of Alberto playing quinto with Los Munequitos. Mark Sanders put this pic on his blog, and I of course ate it up. Check it out in its context.

*Felix, Willie and I are planning on getting together soon, so stay tuned. There will be much information and goodies to share.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bomba Y Plena - Camaradas

Victor "Papo" Sterling

When I talked to Papo, I was really in the dark as to how much history the man had behind him. I knew of Papo through Felix. Of the several times I'd gone to his house for lessons, at least once Felix opened up a book of old photos and Papo happened to be in one (if not several) of those pics. Felix also mentioned Papo as being one of the best okonkoleros to play with Puntilla at the time.

Naturally after hearing his name among such heavies, I was inclined to contact the man himself. It just so happens that Papo has a band out called "Sabor a Timba". He has settled in the Hartford, CT area, and was even teaching at Smith College in their dance department for a number of years. Papo is bilingual, but I opted to interview him in Spanish as to not lose any sabor.

Papo was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He started out playing timbal and bongo. Papo holds the distinction of having Walfredo de Los Reyes as one of his early teachers. He mentions that his first real gig was playing with the Tito Puente Latin Jazz Ensemble, otherwise known at the LP Latin Jazz Ensemble. This was around the time that LP was producing tours to promote their drums. He played alongside percussionist Johnny "Dandy" Rodriguez, and Patato to name a few. Papo would also play with the likes of Jorge Dalto, Mario Rivera, Alfredo de la Fe, Bobby Rodriguez and Bernie Minoso. It was like a small version of an Afro Cuban review where the dancer was featured as a rumbera and Papo played quinto and bongo while she danced. (Papo mentions that while in NYC he later participated in an off-Broadway production, a similar group, this time with Puntilla, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Jose "Pijuan" Seguinot, Ramon Veloz, Claudina Montenegro Aime Cabrera, and Merly Bordes, all under the musical direction of Meme Solis, which ran for a season)

(Papo en las tumbas, Photo Credit: saboratimba)

When he got off tour and back to PR, in around 1979 he started playing again with Onelio Scull y su fundamento, “Aña Ilu Ade”. This fundamento comes from the prestigious Angarica line of Havana tamboreros. He played with Onelio prior to this, but this would have been aberikula (Onelio didn’t get fundamento till around 78-79). The other drummers that were part of Onelio’s crew at the time were, Julito (not Collazo), Freddy Moreno, Tato, Victor, and Cachete Maldonado (at times).

According to tambolero de Brasil, Fernando Leobons, Onelio inherited the 2nd set of Fundamento outside of Cuba, Arturo “Pipo” Peña holds the distinction of inheriting the 1st. This information has become common knowledge among tamboleros and historians. According to Papo, no one really knows who was the first to have fundamento, it was either Pipo or Onelio, although Papo mentions Juan Candela as well.

Fernando mentions that Alfredo Coyude’s fundamento was born from Onelio’s and that this was the first set actually born inside the states. Papo would play Alfredo Coyude’s first tambor, “Anya Ire Owantolokum(?)”. The guys that played this particular tambor were Ricardo Isaac "Cando", Juan Fuentes “Tartabull” (who was in Chicago for a while before moving back to PR), Hector “El Flaco” Hernandez, and Papo of course. Lazaro Galarraga sang with the group as well. This was the first tambor de fundamento that was made in the states (Los Angeles) and this was in the early 80’s.

(Ramin Quintana, Alfredo Coyude, ?, Nengue, Mikel Sotolongo, Photo Credit: Flaco)

Alfredo, Ricardo, Tartabull and Papo then went to NY together with Alfredo’s tambor. When Papo first moved out to the NY area, he first lived in Union City, NJ, then in the LES on 1st Ave and 5th, then up to 183rd st in the Bronx, and then to Brooklyn before settling in Connecticut. When he first came to NY, they didn’t do the whole igbodu at the bembes. They didn’t do the 21 toques, just ñongo, and other toques, but when the fundamento came things changed. In the time Papo was in NY he played with the who’s who of the Afro Cuban music scene in NYC. He played with Julito Collazo, Gene Golden, Steve Berrios, Milton Cardona, Puntilla’s Nueva Generacion, Daniel Ponce, Manuel Martinez, Roberto Borrell’s groups - Kubata y Afroson, and other. During this time Papo would play guiro, rumba, palo, aberikula, fundamento, bongo y timbal.

Papo mentioned that when he first started playing with "los Cubanos", they would give him his props for playing well and with the proper cadence. Papo told me that when he was learning how to play the only way one would get a chance to learn was to ask to sit down at the drum and basically learn as you play. One would have to watch closely before they got up the nerve to ask to sit down, and if you messed up, then you would have to wait a long time to get back on the drum. Now things are different. According to Papo, “hay que saber tocar, no puedes empezar muy rapido o muy lento…”

I asked Papo, “What are you favorite drums to play?”, he replied, “I identify mostly with the bongo, other than that I would say itotele.” He mentioned that without a good segundo, it just doesn’t work.

*message from Papo:

I forgot to mention also that Julito Collazo asked me to assist him on his working studio shortly after moving from New Jersey, for the purpose of helping him on his Orula's assignments. I feel greatly honored "y profundo agradecimiento" that "El Barondo" and Steve Berrios took me as a truly respected brother.

Gracias Papo por la informacion...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ogans at Lincoln Center 8/5/01

If you like rumba then you have got to like Batucada and some of the the other Brazilian rhythms. Here we present Ogans for your listening pleasure. This high energy percussion group had Lincoln Center rocking. They were brought to us by the Caribbean Cultural Center. Enjoy!

Eya Aranla at Lincoln Center 8/5/01

Ms Marta Moreno Vega and her wonderful organization the Caribbean Cultural Center have staged many great concerts using Lincoln Center as their venue. One such performance included Milton Cardona's EYA ARANLA. The members of the band included Willie Williams on sax, Papo Vasquez on bone, Dave Valentin on flute, Cucho Martinez on bass, Prof. Joe Torres on Piano, Jose Fernandez on Okonkolo, Woochie Holiday on Iya and his brother (Iyawo at the time) Abie Holiday on Itotele. The coro consisted of Sandra Fela Wiles, Yomi Yomi and Carol Robinson. Milton's son Sergio is on clave and maraca. I remember that day because it was over 100 degrees in that plaza. You will even hear me comment about it. Summer in the big city.

Puntilla's Crew Part 2

Felix just sent me some more detailed information regarding members of Puntilla's Crew.

Remember this photo?

It just so happens that this particular group will be featured in an upcoming WPR Magazine article, but before it hits the newstands we at "Sentimiento Manana" got the inside scoop. (I have highlighted the names to better distinguish them)
From left to right and bottom up:

Ricardo, Sado Omo Agallu, the late Canute Bernard Omo Yemaya, "El Moro" Omo Elegua, Keyende Baker-Fann son of Tima and Obadele (Ibae), Mickey Rinquist from Boston, Lazaro "El Cocinero"(Ibae), Oni Shango Orlando "Puntilla" Rios (ibae), Olo Obatala Brandon Rosser, Carlos Cordova - trap drummer, Felito Oviedo Oni Shango - Akpuon (singer), Juan Omo Shango, Oluo Felix Ochebile, Ayannda Clarke, Oni Shango James Hawthorne "Chief" Bey (Ibae), Gregorio from Boston, Wilfredo el Jabao (Ibae), Oluo Abraham Rodriguez, Olo Ochun Pedro" Pepe Calabaza" Valdez (Ibae), Eddie Rodriguez, Victor "Papo" Sterling, Omo Agallu Skip Burney, Oluo Warren Smith, Victor Jaraslaw, Omo Shango Luis el Abasio, Oni Shango Donald Eaton, Olo Ochun Neal Clarke, Doc Gibbs, Santiago.

Here is a list of some of the drummers and singers who were with Puntilla who are not in the picture:

Olo Obatala Emilio Barreto, Mike and Antonni Carrillo, Gene Golden, Daniel Ponce, Giovanni Hidalgo, Richie Flores, Michael Rodriguez (Ibae), Oni Yemaya Olufemi Mitchell, Oni Yemaya Ama Mcken, Olo Obatala Ola Dejean, Olo Obatala Ama Oloriwaa', Oni Ochun Evelyn Smart, Omo Ochun Michelle Rosewoman, Omo Yemaya Amelia Pedroso (Ibae), Oscar Hernandez, Olo Ochun Regina Iyaleo, Omo Obatala Xavier Rivera, Omo Yemaya Izzy Santiago, Manuel Martinez, Omo Ogun Larry Washington, Oluo Amado Dedeu, Oni Shango Luisito Ofere, Oluo Carlos Sanchez, Pedrito Martinez, Roman Diaz, Fran Bell, Popo,Oluo Gerardo "Taboada" Fernandez, Willie Varela (Ibae), Orestes Shango, Lazaro Bonilla (Ibae) and Puntilla's son Miguel Rios. He had at one point Lazaro Galarraga singing and also Lazaro Ros (Ibae).

Dancers that performed with Puntilla are:

Olo Ochun Xiomara Rodriguez, Olo Ochun Rita Mascia, Olo Ochun Rosalia Gamboa, Olo Ochun Susan Sanabria, Olo Ochun Alberto Morgan, Oni Shango Pupi Insua, Freddy Shango, Caracol, Oluo Eddie Alfonso, Olo Obatala Pedro Domenech and Salvadore Santamaria.

Most of us who were with Puntilla have performed and recorded with just about everybody in the business; from jazz greats like Miles, Coltrane, Dizzy and Louie Armstrong to Puente, Mongo, Patato, and Palmieri, not to mention that some us have taught in Ivy league schools such as Columbia, Yale and Harvard also at the Berkley school of music and have performed with every major folkloric group in Cuba; Yoruba Andabo, Clave y Guaguanco, Grupo Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Los Munequitos, Afro-Cuba de Matanzas, and in the US; Puntilla's Nueva Generacion, Los Afortunados, David Oquendo's Raices Habaneras, Grupo Patakin and Ilu Aye.

As you can see Puntilla's influence in the Afro-Cuban, Jazz and Latin music scene was far and wide. Until he arrived in the US along with his compatriots from Cuba in 1980 we had very few who would share so much of themselves in expanding the knowledge and depth of Afro-Cuban music and folklore. May his music always live on thru us.

Felix Sanabria

Awo Orunmila Ochebile, Olo Obatala Igbinlaye, Obalowo Anya De.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Candido's Tribute to Graciela at Birdland

The best thing about camcording musical events for me is the ever present possibility of catching something really special. On the night of Aug. 27th, 2003 the possibility became reality. Birdland hosted a birthday party for the fabulous (and my favorite Latin Female vocalist) Graciela and many of her friends came to pay their respects. Among them was the Thousand Finger Man himself CANDIDO. His tribute to his friend Graciela was a sight to behold and now we can share it with you.

Rumba on Castle Hill, the Bronx, Pt.2

There were many exceptional nights of Rumba at the Sports Bar on Castle Hill in the Bronx. The night of 4/10/05 was no different. Already extablished as the place to be on Sunday night..rumberos came from all over to participate. All of this was made possible by the management of the club and Cece the Rumbero/DJ who did double duty by providing both the live and pre-recorded music. Members of Ilu Aye were in attendance which really kept the drumming on point.

Los Afortunados - "Beny More"

(Abraham Rodriguez, Photo Credit: muratphoto)

In my personal opinion, Abraham Rodriguez is probably one of the most underrated rumba singers still alive. His great voice and skillful delivery make for a killer combination. He has sang with the best of the best and has more than held his own. He has sung duo with Puntilla, Totico, and Manuel "El Llanero" to name a few. He can sing in English just as easily as he can in Spanish. Check out his duo with Manuel on Los Afortunados unreleased tribute to, "El Beny".

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gene Golden - Part 1

A couple of years ago, while in NY, I made it a point to check out Chico Alvarez's band "Palo Monte". They were playing every so often at Sob's, so I decided to head out there one Friday after work. While the band was cookin' I admit I really only went for one reason, Gene Golden.

I had followed Gene ever since getting into the music, but had still not had the opportunity to see him play live. It really was a real treat watching this seasoned pro play the tumbas with the energy of a 20 year old. At this particular gig I had approached Gene about doing a little interview, he politely obliged and we went downstairs.

Unfortunately time did not permit a proper interview but I did get some information that I will share in the meantime.

RD: Gene how did you get started playing congas?

GG: Well, my mother would run me out of the kitchen because I used to like to play on the pots and pans. Alot of drummers started out that way. When I was about 8 years old my godfather would come to the house and my mother would talk to him about m my interest in playing the drums, so one day he bought me a conga drum. So I started playing, I was playing in the streets, in the parks. I would stay with my grandmother alot of the time and she lived on 107th between 5th and Madison Aves. She was from St Croix and she spoke Spanish. Alot of people in the neighborhood were Latino, so there was that influence. Then I moved back to 150th between Convent and St. Nicholas, thats when I really started to get into it. I was a little older then and was starting to play in little local bands.

(Quinto Mayor- Gene on tres golpe, Pedrito Martinez on tumba, Roman Diaz on quinto, Barry Cox and Max on coro, Joe Gonzalez on guagua, ? on guiro, Video Credit:Jicamocubano)

GG: I met a guy named Joe, who used to play with alot of Bebop bands. He was trying to put conga drums in bebop music. I used to like his drums because they were all painted pretty, I was like, "where'd you get a drum like that?", he said, "c'mon I'll take you..." So he took me down to 116th st off of Lenox Ave. The place was a bakery, this guy used to make drums there so I got one from there.

Then another friend took me to a place on 125th st called "Club Cubano", where Arsenio Rodriguez played every saturday. It was more of a social club type place. Arsenio's band would play nice stuff earlier but after 8pm I noticed that the mothers would take children home. I would then see the mothers come back looking sharp, and the bands would get more serious.

Quique (Arsenio's brother) was the one that taught me how to play congas. I didn't play with them, but Quique would show me different techniques on the drum.

RD: What kind of player was Quique?

GG: Quique was very strong, he was a palero.

Soon after I would meet Julito Collazo, Tommy Lopez, Patato, Totico, and Lil' Ray Romero...

(Gene Golden, Photo Credit: justsalsa)

As you can see I didn't get to ask him many questions. Gene started talking and there was no way I was going to interrupt him as he was giving me such great information. Soon after we started talking he was called up to start his set. I stayed to watch the band and left soon after they finished. I've called Gene afterwords to try and finish the interview but have never been able to hook up with him again. Hopefully I will be able to do so in the near future.

* Barry's site has a great post about Gene, and a great video link as well

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Tribute to Babafemi Akinlana

Babafemi is walking, talking, drum playing history. Al "Babafemi" Humphries has been playing drums for over 56 years. His is the story of the reintroduction of Africanism into American mainstream culture. I am honored to say that this Tata in Palo and priest of Obatala in Ocha is a mentor and friend. I will be writing an extensive biography about Baba for these pages. His story will read like a who's who of percussion as he has played with such world renown figures as Katherine Dunham and Olatunji to name but a few. Here we have many of his students paying tribute to him the POINT CDC in the Bronx where he has resided for many years. Babaila is on lead vocal. The rest of the group consists of myself, Angel Rodriguez and Dafadi on drums, Jimmy Cruz on bell and Kali Ramirez and Chano Rodriguez on shekere. Date: 7/20/02

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chachalokuafun ---> Rumba

Just a little clip showing off the talents of one of the best all around Afro Caribbean groups in the city, Ilu Aye. Here they go from chachalokuafun (on congas) to rumba. Felix (sitting in with the group) is playing quinto and his wife Susan steps up to dance a little as well. Jonathan is on tumba and Danny is on tres golpe. You can hear Bembesito in the back doing his thing as well. I apologize dearly for the poor visuals, I hope you can still enjoy...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No es la flecha...

There is a saying, "No es la flecha, es el Indio..." What this basically means is that it doesn't matter what kind of arrow you are using, because if you are skillfull enough you are going to get the job done. Same goes for instruments in most cases, as I am sure that Giovanni Hidalgo could get more sounds out of a wooden stool than most could out of some Juniors. That said, I believe a good drum goes a long way, and ever the discerning percussionist I would like to add a little info if I may.

Matthew Smith out of the Philly area has been making drums for many a year now, and his drums have been played by a wide variety of people. Pablo Batista and Jerry Gonzalez are two that readily come to mind. Matt is working on an oak tres golpe for me, and I am pretty excited since he is going to be using his new style crown hardware on my drum (and all future drums for that matter).

(same drum)

What I like about Matt is that not only is he confident in his work, he is also pretty low key. Up until recently the only way to get in contact with Matt was strictly through word of mouth, and I am sure Matt would like it to remain that way if possible. For those interesed check out his website and drop him a line. He makes conga, bongo, bata, timbal, bells, cajones, and supplies skins as well. And let me not forget to mention that he does extensive repair work on drums as well. And for the record he was never an "apprentice" of Jay Bereck.

Ok, lets move on shall we? I got an email this morning from artisan,tambolero completo and apkwon, Ezequiel Torres out of Miami, responding to an inquiry about his chekere pricing.

As far as his chekeres are concerned you can get a set for $600 (3), and as you can tell his chekeres are a work of art. He makes bata, cajon, iyesa drums, and congas I believe. You can check out his website and shoot him an email, but it would probably be better to call and even better if you know a lil' Spanish.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rumba at the POINT C.D.C.

The Hunt's Point section of the Bronx is home to the Point CDC, a great community action center involved in many issues affecting the quality of life of South Bronx residents. The Point gave Angel Rodriguez, percussionist extraordinaire a forum for teaching his skills to the children and even some adults in the neighborhood. It was called All America Is Drumming. Angel also created the Living Legends tribute series where over 35 of our major artist were honored for their contributions. More on that later. This night which occured in February of 1999, featured Rumba and included Jose "Apache" Rivera on vocal and clave, Angel Rodriguez on tumbadora, myself on tres golpe and Jose "Mongo" Rivera on quinto.

Eddie Bobe - "Central Park Rumba" (CD-PIR 1365)

Two nights ago I found myself looking through my collection for the great NYC rumba recording, "Central Park Rumba". What I find amazing is that this recording is almost 10 years old, but sounds like it was recorded yesterday. I wanted to highlight this particular album as it could very well be the definitive soundtrack to our little blog here.

Whenever I am thinking about buying a record I look at one thing first, the credits. Judging by who is playing on a particular record, I can usually tell what to expect, and this is usually the deciding factor for me. Needless to say CPR did not let me down.

Here are the cast of characters:

Eddie Bobé (lead vocals, timbales, congas, claves, shekere, guagua)
Orlando "Puntilla" Rios (lead vocals, quinto, cajon, iya, claves, coro)
Pedro Martinez (lead vocals, cajon, itotele, coro)
Felix Sanabria (quinto, cajon, okonkolo, coro)
Alberto Serrano (quinto, congas, cajon, claves, coro)
Jay Rodriguez (baritone sax)
Tony Batista (bass)
Jay Collins (flute)
Jonathan Crayford (piano)

Now, what you may not know is who played what, on which particular song. For instance I always wondered who is playing that great quinto on "Columbia para los Guerreros". Well my fellow bloggees and bloggettes, I talked to Felix Sanabria today and he gave me the scoop.

"Ta Ta"- Alberto is playing quinto, Felix and Pedrito are playing tumbador and tres golpes
"Rumba Para Los Olu Bata"- Alberto on 3 drums, Felix on okonkolo, Pedrito on itotele, Puntilla on iya
"El Mas Cumbanchero"- Felix is playing quinto and Alberto is playing 3 drums
"El Parque Central"- Felix is playing quinto and Alberto is on tumbador, ? is playing tres
"Columbia Para Los Guerreros"- Alberto is playing quinto, Felix is playing tres and Puntilla is on tumbador
"NYC Quimbombo"- According to Eddie Bobe: "the cut NYC Quimbombo is just me and Puntilla I overdubbed every thing, Puntilla is on Quinto"
"Alberto's Drum Solo"- Who do you think is playing on this one?
"Bonko"- Alberto is playing bonko enchemiya, Felix is on obiapa, and ? is on kuchiyerema
"Compa Galletano"- Puntilla is on quinto, Felix and Pedrito are on tres dos and tumbador

So there you have it, the official lowdown. If you don't have a copy of this click on the picture above.