I always get a kick out of talking to Matt. He called me today in response to an itotele inquiry I emailed him about. I think we talked for all of 5 minutes about the itotele and for about 20 minutes on Grupo Folklorico and how great Pedrito Martinez is. If you went to the Grupo concert on Sat (11/1) in the Bronx and didn't see Matt, shame on you. One may have the misconception that Matt is another ex furniture maker that has found a sort of niche in the drum building market. Nothing can be further from the truth, while his drums certainly look exquisite, Matt's main goal is to provide the discerning percussionist a dependable, heavy duty drum that in most cases will outlast its owner. His craft comes from his unwavering respect for the culture of the drum and those that came before him. He is (like most of us here) a latin jazz and rumba aficionado and thats where all this stems from.
In any case, a while back someone sent me some pics of Matt's bata work and I'd figure I'd post it here for all you drum fiends. Matt would probably cringe at the thought of me posting this but unfortunately words alone do not do these beauties any justice. I will soon be commissioning Matt's talents for an itotele. As far as Matt's bata, I have never played them or even seen them in person, but if his conga work is any indication I will not be dissappointed. If one thing holds true about bata construction is that no two sets are alike. Measurements vary widely from set to set. Alot of research went into Matt's early bata work, he referenced Fernando Ortiz's measurements early on, and Peachy Jarman (out of Philly) also provided valuable insight and critique as well. At some point Matt reached some measurements which he found most conducive not only for sound and aesthetic purposes but most importantly keeping in line with the tradition that these drums present.
As soon as I get the itotele (which will be a while from now), I will share my two cents or as Johnny Conga says, my two congas).
(all pics courtesy of Hugo Zapata out of Chicago)