Monday, November 10, 2008

Matthew Smith Bata

(Iya, Itotele, Okonkolo, Photo Credit: Hugo Zapata)

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)


Bongos not Bombs said...

Congrats on the itotole. I asked Matt about some bata as well but could'nt stomach the 9 month wait so I went with Isla. Matt;s price for a set was pretty competitive so it was a hard choice.
You won't regret it.

Sentimiento Manana said...

Thanks...I know what you mean, but whats up with you Tony? How is the bata learning coming along? Let me know...

Bongos not Bombs said...

How's the bata learning, well I'm waiting for my bata from Mario and we're still seeing if we can get Sandy's bata class off the ground. His 2nd conga class started which is great...I think the bata is going to happen in the Spring for real.

....but Ralph, I know you not confusing bongos not bombs with the Conga Dr. , are you? Tony's the Dr. and I'm the bombs!................Geordie

p.s. your guagua is on it's way!

Sentimiento Manana said...

conyo, I did... for some reason I thought it was Tony all along...well in any case Guagua...did you take any pics of the class? I can't wait to get the guagua and post it...

take care bro, and keep in touch

123 said...

Wow just kind of ran into your website. Yes, those are my Matt Smith bata drums and they are still going strong. As you can see they are built like trucks and they weigh a ton but very sweet. Since these pics, I have trimmed the heads and added the chaworo bells to the Iya. I also own Matt Smith congas (they are killers), Isla, Jay Berek and Junior Tirado among others (22 congas, 3 sets of bata, bomba barriles, etc.). They are great in their own way, but it is the drummer that can bring them to life. Suerte y mucho Ache!

Hugo Zapata. Chicago