Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ibae - Israel "Izzy" Davila

(Izzy Davila, Photo Credit: Izzy Davila's Myspace)

It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of another great rumbero. Israel "Izzy" Davila passed away in New York a couple of days ago, and has left a major void within the rumba/santo community. Izzy was an accomplished singer and percussionist, and if you have never heard him, just look him up on this site. More info to come but I wanted to put this out to everyone before too much time had passed.

(Photo Credit: Mark Sanders)

*** Mark Sanders, from Fidel Eyeglasses.Com sent me a great pic of Izzy, standing by his good friend Jose Rivera, and Eddie "Sweetback". Thanks Mark for the great pic***

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Los Pleneros de La 21 - 25 Years

Los Pleneros de la 21 in partnership with the Hostos Center for Arts & Culture Celebrate 25 Years of Bomba & Plena…Para Todos Ustedes!

Saturday, November 21st 2009 with a Commemorative Concert 7:30 pm Main Theater (Hostos Community College/CUNY)

A 2 hour explosive Musical Journey honoring 25 years of LP21 with an ALL STAR MUSICAL LINE-UP FEATURING LP21’s intergenerational Ensemble of master artists & VERY SPECIAL GUESTS:

• Miguel “Meñique” Barcasnegras (El Sonero Añejo) • • Héctor “Tito” Matos (Viento de Agua) • • Elio villafranca (Piano) • • Hector "tito" Rodriguez • • IVAN RENTA •

Admission: $15 Box office & info: 718-518-4455 Tickets online: www.hostos.cuny.edu/culturearts ~ Followed by ~ Silver Anniversary Post-Concert Reception 9:30 pm – 11:30 pm Hostos Community College/CUNY 2nd Floor Bridge 450 Grand Concourse (at 149th Street) The Bronx

$15.00 General Admission (includes food, drink and entertainment) Purchase online today at: http://www.losplenerosdela21.org - OR - RSVP by Wednesday, November 18th 2009 212-427-5221, julia@losplenerosdela21.org THERE WILL BE A SPECIAL SILENT AUCTION OF LP21 ARCHIVE & HISTORICAL MATERIALS, PRICELESS SERVICES AND OTHER GOODIES! All proceeds will support the Puerto Rican Music Project and LP21’s programming for LP21’s next 25 years!

Directions 2, 4, 5 trains to 149th Street and Grand Concourse

A Special Thank You to all of our Donors & Volunteers: • Wallace & Nydia Edgecombe • Roberta Singer • Francis Acevedo •Manuela Arciniegas • Milagros Gerena-Rochet • Ravil López • Nilsa Márquez • • Antonia Morales • Leticia Peguero • Nelson Ramos • Sylvia Ramos Ortíz • Luz Rivera • • Los Pleneros de la 21 • • Members of the Bomba & Plena Community Workshops

• For More Information: Julia L. Gutiérrez-Rivera 212.427.5221 Julia@losplenerosdela21.org http://www.losplenerosdela21.org LOS PLENEROS DE LA 21 Uniting Community Building and Cultural Equity through Music for over 25 years! 1680 Lexington Avenue, Room 209 El Barrio, NYC 10029 t. 212.427.5221 f. 212.427.5339 http://www.losplenerosdela21.org http://www.myspace.com/losplenerosdela21 Friend us on Facebook today! LP21's 25th Anniversary Concert is made possible in part by support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The National Endowment on the Arts and the Offices of NYC Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, District 8.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anya Ade / Susan Sanabria

Anya Ade plays bata for Obatala at the 12th Annual Conference of the Egbe Omo Obatala. Susan Sanabria dances for Obatala. On stage left to right: Amma, Oloriwa, Olu Dare, Jonathan, Emery, Oluo Felix, Nicky & Bembecito.

(Video Credit: Nicky Laboy)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quinto Mayor 2

Skip on quinto, El Chino on lead vocals...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quinto Mayor

Gene Golden - quinto
Skip Burney - tumbador
?- tres dos
Abraham Rodriguez - lead vocal
Papote Jimenez and Jose "El Chino" Real - coro

(Video Credit: Enchemi1)

Can someone please identify the dancer to the right, the couple that is dancing the yambu, the tres dos player and the gentleman that is standing behind Abie and Papote?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ta Ta - Caja Dura

More youtube clips courtesy of ARGpercussion:

Jose Rivera on guagua
Pete Conga on tumba
Nicky Laboy on tres dos
Apache on quinto
Abi Holiday on chekere
Max Valdez, coro
Barry Cox, coro
Papote, lead vocals

Rumba, TODAY!

I got the following email from George Friedman-Jimenez.

Hola mi gente,

Today is the first indoor rumba this fall at the AfroLatino Cafe in the Brecht Forum. Also, hold the date for Sunday, December 6, 2009. On that day there will be a tribute rumba for the great rumbero Manuel Martinez “El Llanero”, who has recently been hospitalized several times and is in failing health. Dates for other rumbas during the winter at the AfroLatino Café are not set yet. Spread the word, I hope to see you there today!

Que siga la rumba!



Sunday November 1, 2009 6 pm – 9:30 pm

Place: Brecht Forum, 451 West St (West Side Hwy) between Bank & Bethune St, New York, NY. Suggested donation: $6

Directions: From the subway station at 14th St and 8th Ave, walk down 8th Ave to Bethune St, turn right on Bethune and walk 3 blocks west to West Side Highway. Turn left and Brecht Forum is on that block. By car, take W. 11th St west to the West Side Highway, turn right and the Brecht Forum is a block and a half north. To contact Brecht Forum: www.brechtforum.org (212) 242-4201.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Anya Ade @ The Obatala Conference

I forgot to mention that these videos are from Nicky Laboy's youtube page.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bruckner Rumba

A little snippet from a rumba earlier this year with Angel Rodriguez, Jose "Apache" Rivera, Willie "El Ruso" Everich and Babafemi.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eddie Bobe - Vids

I got an email from Eddie Bobe this morning, letting me know how his recording project was coming. It looks like we are in for a little bit of a wait, but hopefully it won't take too much longer. In the meantime I wanted to share some video clips of Eddie that he was nice enough to highlight. Check them out. All videos courtesy of Eddie Bobe.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Anya Ade Dossier

Añade, which means the Crown of Aña was born in Havana, Cuba in September 2003 from Aña Bi Olorun, the Aña of Oluo Fran Marquetti. Aña bi Olorun was born from the Aña of the late Jesus Perez. Jesus Perez, Oba Ilu, and Pablo Roche, Akilakpa were the most influential olubatas of the 20th century. Since its New York debut at the start of 2004 Añade has presided over many Orisha ceremonies in the greater New York area wherein many omolorishas were presented to Aña.

Añade was received by Felix Sanabria, Awo Orunmila Ifamola omo odun Oshebile, Olo Obatala Igbinlaye who for over thirty years has been performing Orisha music with many of the most prominent drummers of our time. Most notably – the late great Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, Oni Shango Obatilemi who was a leading exponent of Aña, Orisha and Afro -Cuban music in the United States for close to thirty years.

The omo alañas of Añade include some of the youngest and brightest members of our Orisha community and they are dedicated to sustaining our traditions for future generations. These young men and women are part of the Añade family and have committed themselves to the ongoing study of Orisha liturgical music, respectful performance of religious songs and ritual and sharing the gifts and blessings of Aña with our community.

Click here for more....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quinto Mayor

(Quinto Mayor, Video Credit: Gene Golden)

Pancho Quinto

Pancho Quinto's group played at La Esquina Habanera some time ago, and guess who got the footage. Gene just put these up on youtube. Check them out.

(Pancho Quinto y Su Anagui, El Negro Triana, Lazaro Rizo - vocals, Puntilla - quinto, Miguel Puntilla Rios - tres dos, Octavio Rodriguez - tumbador)

(Videos Courtesy of Gene Golden)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yambu con Angel, Willie, Apache, Babafemi...

(Bruckner Yambu, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bruckner Rumba

(Willie, Angel, Anthony, Apache, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

Willie organized a rumba outside of his building which unfortunately I could not make. Dennis Flores took some video which will hopefully make it's way to us soon. Willie told me it was a successful rumba. I wouldn't want to miss the next one.

* I have updated this post with more pics by Ivan Ferrer.

(Angel Rodriguez, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

(Apache Rivera and Willie El Ruso, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

(Jose "Apache" Rivera, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

(Babafemi, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

(Jose Rivera, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

(Jose Rivera, Photo Credit: Ivan Ferrer)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quinto Mayor

More great clips from Gene Golden's stash. Can anyone help me name the chekere player, and the singer?

Los Afortunados

Gene put up a great video of Los Afortunados playing a guaguanco at a recording studio in Brooklyn (I believe). Gene Golden on tres dos, Alberto Serrano on tumbador, Felix Sanabria on quinto, Skip Burney on guagua, Donald Eaton on chekere, Manuel "El Llanero" Solitario on voz y clave, Bill, Paula Ballan, Chico Alvarez on coro.

In this next clip you have Skip singing akpwon to a great guiro, with Donald Eaton, Bill on chekeres, Felix on guataca, Paula Ballan, Alberto Serrano, Manuel Martinez singing the ankori part, and of course Gene Golden on caja.

All videos uploaded by Gene Golden.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Los Afortunados w/ Chico Alvarez & Crew

Gene has been putting up some great stuff on facebook, and for those that don't have an account, take it from me, you are missing out. Hopefully we will get him on board with Sentimiento soon, so we can post more vids directly to the blog, in the meantime I will share what I can. Check out this rare Los Afortunados recording from yesteryear featuring members of Chico Alvarez band. Gene is on tumbas, Alberto Serrano on quinto, Manuel El Llanero on clave, Donald Eaton on chekere, Paula Ballan, coro, Felix Sanabria on cencerro. Unfortunately I can't name the bass, tres, and flute player. If you know, let us know.

(Los Afortunados w/ Chico Alvarez, Video Credit: Gene Golden)

Raices Habaneras @ Esquina Habanera

The now defunct Esquina Habanera hosted some of the best rumba in the city for a couple of years. At it's strongest, you had acts like Los Munequitos coming through, and famous rumberos such as Ernesto Gatel, Amado Dedeu, Orlando Puntilla, and countless others. The Raices Habanera crew (based out of NJ) had many regulars in attendance throughout. Gene Golden was no exception.

This elder of "la rumba Nuevayorkina", was definitely a mainstay and his latest youtube offering has him taking part in a tasty columbia, check it out for yourself:

(Columbia @ Equina Habanera, Video Credit: Gene Golden)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

La Rumba Ya Se Formo Con...

Barry Cox was kind enough to share this piece of nostalgia that he found. The city has hosted many a rumba a various venues and the Wreck Room, was one of them. Now this piece of history will only exist in the collective minds of the ones who participated, the ones who organized, and the ones who remember.

You can check out the Union Guarachera agrupacion at Mark Sander's site:


(Los Munequitos sat in with regulars at the rumba one night, Jonathan Troncoso, Photo Credit: Barry Cox)

(Los Munequitos, Photo Credit: Barry Cox)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It Takes A Village...

(Dennis Flores, Photo Credit: Dennis Flores)

I want to borrow the old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child...", yet I want to place it in another context. In my example the village would be the proponents (village) surrounding the culture (child). Nothing exists in a vacuum, and never is this concept more evident when you live, work and play in NYC. The same goes for Afro Caribbean culture in the city. It draws from so many wells, and it is expressed through so many mediums that interlock so seamlessly that you have trouble dissecting them. My point is that instead of dissecting and analyzing we should probably just lump it all together because in the end, the parts make a whole.

Case in point: Cinematographer/Photojournalist- Dennis Flores

Dennis has been on the forefront of visually capturing much of what's been happening in the Afro Caribbean music sphere for quite some time now. Not only are his videos extremely professional and well done, they also evoke a quiet seriousness while maintaining a very open and familial atmosphere. He ain't no slouch in other words. Here is some more info on the man himself.

Dennis Flores is a community based human rights film-maker committed to using the camera as a tool for education and a weapon for survival.

His work has centered on placing skills, cameras and editing equipment in the hands of communities in resistance so that they may be able to document their own histories and human rights situations.

He also has worked on developing multi-media workshops on a wide range of social justice issues for the last 6 years, teaching community based video documentation in people of color/immigrant communities throughout the world.

Dennis uses the camera to tell the stories of his family, community, and the work that he does as an organizer.

You may be asking yourself, well ok, he does good work but what do his videos have to do with rumba, bomba, palo? Well my friend they have everything to do, because just as much as Dennis needs the drums, the drums need him. If it weren't for the likes of guys like Dennis, blogs like this wouldn't exist, and there would be much valuable information that would go down the proverbial toilet. We are aware because he chooses to share. Let me put up some examples of his fine work.

(Ernesto Rodriguez, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

(Obanilu Ire Allende, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

(Yaya, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

You can expect to see more from Dennis in the future, that I can promise.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


If you don't know where you have been, how can you go forward in a progressive manner? I'd like to extend this particular idea to those that came before us when it comes to the drums. Drumming has had a long and storied history, better drummers than us came before and not only paved the way, but also faced obstacles and persecution that we know little about. To the older generation, we salute you, to the younger generation, take heed.

(Photo Credit: Felix Sanabria)

Monday, July 20, 2009

1987 Clip featuring Puntilla, Roberto Borrell, Cachao, etc...

I had to put this up, as it features the likes of Roberto Borrell, the late Orlando Puntilla Rios, Cachao, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Rene Lopez in a rehearsal for a tribute to the master, Cachao.

(Video Credit: Roberto Borrell)

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Caja Dura...

(Caja Dura: Maximo Valdez-Lead Vocals, Barry & Papote-coro, Pete Conga-tres dos, Niko Laboy-tumbador, Abi Holliday-quinto, ?-guagua, Video Credit: RobetoSuave)

Friday, July 10, 2009


(Caja Dura - Abi Holliday, Jose "Apache" Rivera, Papote Jimenez, Max Valdez, Barry Cox, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

Rumba is spontaneity, it is not planned, it is not over analyzed and formalized, if it happens it happens, and if it doesn't, well you know...If the right people show up, and the mood is right then you can have a great rumba. So this is the constant ebb and flow in which the rumba exists, and if you love the art form you will have attended your share of bad rumbas, and good rumbas, such is life.

Every once in a while a group of rumberos get together and formally organize into a group with the purpose of playing together and learning from each other, a la "Ilu Aye", "Los Afortunados", "Quinto Mayor", "Los Inolvidables", "Los Rumbero All Stars, etc... If the group is composed of the right players than there is no question as to whether the rumba will be good, because you know it will.

It looks like "Caja Dura" is going to be no exception. They have been holding court at Camaradas as part of a cigar/rumba night on Tuesday's. Let's meet the members shall we?

(Abidoaye Holliday, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

Son of the late great Ted Holliday Sr, and brother to Teddy Holliday Jr, Abi has been playing bata and percussion for quite some time now. He is considered by some as one of the best cajeros in all of the States, and has played with numerous groups such as "Los Afortunados", Totico's Anya crew, I believe he has also played with Coyude among others.

(Apache, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

Jose "Apache" Rivera is known as one of the best craftsman of cajones and shekeres around. Those in the know, know that you can't beat an Apache cajon, and if you've heard Apache play one of his famous cajones at a bembe, than you know that the man is not only original but downright nasty at what he does. I've asked around as to how his alias came about, but no one has been able to tell me, maybe one day we'll find out.

(Nicholas "Niko" Laboy, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

What else can I say about Nicky? You gotta ask, "what doesn't he play?". As if it wasn't enough to play various percussion instruments and styles, but how about playing them the way they were meant to be played. Well that's where Nicky comes in. Few play with as much ibiono as our man Nicky.

(Papote Jimenez, Maximo Valdez, Barry Cox, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

Papote Jimenez is probably one of the most talented singers in NYC. He has sung with "Zon del Barrio", "Cachimba Inolvidable", among others. Papote, a son of the Loisaida has a tendency to magnetize when he is at the helm.

Maximo Valdez and Barry Cox, are two distinct people, but they have sung together for so long that it almost an injustice to speak of them separately. Following in the great tradition of duos such as Saldiguera and Virulilla, El Negro Triana and Lazaro Rizo and countless others. When it comes to harmony and downright knowledge of song, Max and Barry got it covered.

(Pete Conga Jr, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

I met Pete, when I went to NY last year at one of Ilu Aye's gigs. He didn't sit in, but he was definitely a guy in the know. A couple of months back I put up some videos taken for Pete Sr's birthday that Nicky had on his site. I hope to hear more from him in the future.

If you are in the NYC area and have a chance to see them, don't miss out.

(Looks like the other Jose Rivera on shekere, and Tito Sandoval dancing, Photo Credit: Caja Dura)

(Caja Dura @ Camaradas, Video Credit: RobetoSuave)

(Caja Dura @ Camaradas - Flaco Navaja, Video Credit: RobetoSuave)

(Caja Dura @ Camaradas, Video Credit: RobetoSuave)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sentimiento Documentary - Part 1 & 2

I came across a documentary featuring Emery Damon and Danny Maldonado from the Ilu Aye and Anya Ade crew. They discuss aspects of the Ocha Religion, as well as race/color in the NYC drumming scene. There are some great clips of Ilu Aye in action and even a rare treat where they are doing a little bachata at La Pregunta...pero que Sentimiento! These guys are talents man, nuff said...

(SENTIMIENTO Part 1, Video Credit: beautyfullone01)

(SENTIMIENTO Part 2, Video Credit: beautyfullone01)

Cal Tjader

One of the true giants of Latin Jazz. It was Cal's music..along with his great group of Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria, Lonnie Hewitt and either Al McKibbon or Victor Venegas that captured my imagination in the 60's. Here we see Cal in front of the famous Blackhawk Club in San Francisco. Check out some of the LPs (that's vinyl for you youngsters) that were recorded live at this club. You can see clearly that Ahmad Jamal was being billed as one of the acts as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beats, Eats, Tabaco & Percusion

If you want to listen to some cajon with Nicky at the helm, head out to Camaradas tonight for some cajon and tabaco.

Rumbas in the City Revisited

George Friedman Jimenez, MD, sent over an email with some of the rumbas that are happening in the city.


Rumba de cajones con “Caja Dura”

“Beats & Eats & Tabaco & Percusion”

Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 Fecha: Martes 7 de julio

Place: 2241 First Ave/115th St Lugar: Primera Ave y la 115, NYC

Time: 8 pm – 11 pm Hora: de las 8 a las 11 pm

Tel: 212 348-2703


Place/Lugar: 4418 Bergenline Ave between 44th & 45th St (2nd floor above La Roca supermarket)

Union City, NJ

Hora: Todos los domingos 5pm – 9 pm Time: Every Sunday 5 pm – 9 pm



Sundays 4 pm – 9 pm Todos los domingos de las 4 a las 9

On the path by the lake near the bridge above 72nd St.

Enter at 72nd St, walk across the park, follow your ears!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Music & Food.....

For years..this particular Cuchifrito has been a late night stop for musicians and party goers from the local clubs en El Barrio. Get yourself over to 116th St between Lexington and 3rd Aves. to sample the cuisine. I'm sure you will become a regular. This photo was posted to Facebook by Elena the Mamarazzi.
P.S. Get yourself a 32 oz. Ajonjoli...SLAMMIN!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Three of the truly great percussionists

Tony Rosa...Jerry Gonzalez and Gene Golden....from Gene's photo collection.

Monday, June 29, 2009

To All Our Readers.....

It is with great pleasure that I announce that innovator and main contributor to sentimientomanana and wife are expecting their first child, a girl. Congratulations to the Duque family and may health and prosperity follow them all through their lives.......

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bomba Y Plena Workshops - 6.23-6.25

From Julia Gutierrez:




Intensive BOMBA & PLENA Classes for

musicians and experienced music students with master percussionist


¡Saludos Familia!

Los Pleneros de la 21 are proud to announce that due to popular demand and request, we are offering an additional 3 evenings of intensive percussion classes with the incomparable ANTHONY CARRILLO!

Join us for in Bomba & Plena: Un Paso Alante's - our program that offers intensive Bomba, Plena and music instruction for musicians, experienced music students and music afficionados - next dates: on









6:30 pm - 8:30 pm




(212) 427.5221 / / nellietanco@aol.com

or visit us at our headquarters:

1680 Lexington Avenue Room 209 NY NY 10029

Bomba y Plena:Un Paso Alante established in 2007, is a part of our “Bomba & Plena For All” – Educating through Arts Initiatives and is made possible in part with the support The New York State Council on the Arts, and NYC Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, District 8.

Los Pleneros de la 21, Inc.


uniting community buidling and cultural equity through music for over 25 years

1680 Lexington Avenue, Room 209

El Barrio, NY 10029

T: 212-427-5221 / F: 212-427-5339



Friday, June 19, 2009

Jose Rivera

(Jose Rivera on caja, Angel Rodriguez and Babaila in the background, Photo Credit: Willie "El Ruso" Everich)

"Don't ever sit down with anyone who will ruin the montuno..." (Santiago "Iko" conversing with Jose Rivera)

I first heard of Jose through my compay Willie. From the way Willie talked about Jose, you can tell that more than admiration and respect followed his words, it was a sense of loyalty and brotherhood. More often than not, (especially in the music scene) we are quick to be betrayed, used, and disrespected. This has unfortunately become the status quo, so it's really a breath of fresh air when you come across someone that really ain't looking out for number one. I don't have to tell anyone that's met Jose, what a great guy he is. In any case here is his story:

According to his mom he started around the age of 4, banging on the old export soda cans. The moment came when he about 17 years old, and happened to be playing baseball at his High School (Adlai Stevenson), when he heard a car drive by playing some "plena" and he was hooked. According to Jose, he struck out and said goodbye to his baseball career.
His uncles taught him some bomba and plena beforehand, but this had been one of those special awakenings. Jose would go on to play conga in a band by the name of “Tony Aponte y su Conjunto”, the band would later dissolve after the band leader got married. They used to play Tito Puente charts among others.

(Jose on a beautiful Skin on Skin quinto, Photo Credit: Willie Everich)

Jose and a friend by the name of Alex used to play behind a high school on Friday nights in the Bronx, and one day some guy with a Doberman came by and it turned out to be the late Ralphie Davila (Chivirico’s Son). Ralphie asked Jose if he wanted to go to a big rumba on the concourse, and as time went on Jose got more and more into the scene. Apache had been playing rumba, and was ushered into the bembe scene by non other than Willie. Willie was playing with Totico's Okokan guiro group and after insisting for a while Jose finally joined eventually developed into the first call cajero that he is today. Jose has played with Totico's Okokan, Izzy Davila, and Bembesito.

I've had the good fortune of meeting Jose and hanging with him. Always humble, he is always willing to share what he knows as long as you are respectful. Once in a while Jose will play a bembe with the younger cats, and speak his mind as to certain behavior that goes on. Gentlemen take heed, because we could use a few more Jose Riveras in the game.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

La Bomba Que No Termina...

Alma Moyo has got to be one of my favorite bomba groups. I love a great bomba just like the next man, but Alma definitely takes me to another place and time. One glance at their roster and you will no doubt notice many a familiar face, such as Jorge "Georgie" Vazquez (playing buleador), who plays with Hot Peas N' Butter, Yerbabuena, and is a big part of the Rincon Criollo family. Dr. Raquel Z Rivera (vocals), is already establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with not only in the realm of song, but literature. Fidel Tavarez (cua), who always plays with so much flavor, has played steadily with Alma Moyo since it's inception along with another notable group by the name of Ilu Aye. Obanilu Allende (primo), at a young age has established himself as one of the best bomberos and pleneros in the city, he can sing, dance, play, truly a triple threat. Manuela Arciniegas (buleador), drummer, cultural worker, and ex-Director of Education for the CCCADI, has played with Yaya and Bambula. Alex LaSalle (maraca), musical director and lead singer, drummer, dancer, historian is another young talent with deep roots in not only the bomba and plena side of things, but is also a heavy in the Palo traditions of Cuba. Julia Gutierrez (coro), has also been brought into the fold, another great dancer and proponent of Bomba and Plena in New York. Of course my ignorance never fails in that I can't identify the other two performers in the video. In anyone knows please leave a comment.

Dennis Flores has been filming much of what's been happening in New York for a couple of years now. If you haven't checked out his YouTube page, you are in for a treat. Not only is the filming quality top notch, the sound quality is great too, which is rare especially among youtube videos. Of course Dennis ain't exactly filming these clips with his camera phone and I am sure he has the best equipment possible at his disposal. Hopefully we will be hearing, or in this case seeing, more from him soon. In the meantime...

(Alma Moyo, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rumbos de la Rumba/Routes of Rhythm

I had previously alluded to a recording that had come out previously entitled "The Routes of Rumba". Berta Jottar reached out and asked if I could shed a little more light on the recording in question. Now I have heard the recording and it sounds great, but of course what else do you expect when you have Roman Diaz and Pedrito Martinez at the helm?

(Roman & Pedrito, Video Credit: bjottar)

(Pupy, Video Credit: bjottar)

Here is some great info regarding the CD:

The Project

Rumbos de la Rumba (The Routes of Rumba) is the result of my collaboration with music virtuosos Pedro Martínez and Román Díaz. It is a conceptual musical journey about Rumba’s performance culture understood as a set of socio-historical relations. Each track is located within a different psychic space to evoke a sense of walking in la Havana, or circulating in the African Diaspora, or feeling caught between love and conflict, between the secular and the sacred.

Soon after their arrival to New York, I saw Pedrito and Román performing at La Esquina Habanera, a well-established Cuban Rumba space in Union City, New Jersey. This project is their first recording in the U.S. as a duo elaborating the entire music in the Rumba guarapachanguera style. Most Rumba records are performed by established ensembles, or what is known as a “ven tú,” a jam session organized by invitation. This work however traces Pedrito and Román’s musical synergy.

I proposed six essential Rumba concepts to Pedrito and Román: dialogue, prohibition, conflict, seduction, Abakuá, éxodo and fragmentation. Pedrito and Román interpreted these concepts by arranging popular Rumbas and composing new ones. Both decided to interpret the fragmentation concept individually. Pedrito created his “Encyclopedia of the Drum,” a number performed with the batá drums—a double-headed set of three drums considered the “Ph.D.” of African drumming. His piece is a salute to Élegua, Ogún and Ochosí, Yoruba warrior deities, also known as the Orishas from Cuba’s Regla de Ocha (Santería) religion. While Pedrito’s “Encyclopedia” shows one of rumba’s spiritual precedents, Román deconstructed the concept of fragmentation into an eight-movement composition. “Fragmentacion” traces Rumba ethnic roots and culminates in a totality: “all of a sudden you are in a Santería ceremony, then all of sudden you are in a rumba, this is Havana.” (Román Díaz)

This project is also about Pedrito and Román’s encounter with the diversity of NYC rumberos. We invited Alfredo Díaz "Pescao" who arrived to the U.S. in 1980 with the Mariel Exodo. Pescao’s contribution was not only his voice and original compositions, but his witty sense of humor bringing the street and solar energy into the project, elements of el ambiente de la Rumba: El Brete (neigborhood gossip), Salud Estomacal (on culinary matters), and “El Monumento,” a tribute honoring Manuel Martínez Olivera “El Llanero.” Pedrito, Román and Pescao performed together these three numbers, creating a sparkling call and response dynamic necessary in a good Rumba. Thus this recording connects two Rumba generations in the Diaspora, Pedrito and Román’s, who were entirely raised in Revolutionary Cuba and departed during the Special Period, and Pescao and Manuel’s generation who grew up in-between the Batista and Castro regimes and left during the Mariel boatlift. Two migratory generations still connected through Rumba as their common denominator and epistemological framework.

Most recordings of Latin music do not emphasize attention to the quality and diversity of the tumbadora drum’s sound because drums are reduced to their rhythmic function. It is also known that the best Rumbas are when they are performed live and spontaneously. However, this recording was done in studio and most of the instruments (with the exception of tracks 3, 6 and 8) were recorded independently. Kamilo Kratc concentrated in the analysis of each drum’s color and sound texture in order to reproduce the melorhythm and harmonies resulting from their combination. Kamilo’s art was also to experiment with different microphones in order to obtain a recording that captured the sound closest to each drum’s natural sounds.

The sound mix was a collective effort. With Kamilo, I was particularly interested in the reproduction of the different drum sounds’ spatial relations. Pedrito and Román also participated in different mixing sessions, they work with the various sounds, their combinations and their drums diverse manifestations. This resulted in sound mixes that complemented each other, adding to each song our different moods and sentiments. The final sound mix was about Rumba’s polyrhythmic figures, to recreate the dialogue between the various drums and human voices. For instance, “when one sound is telling another sound that he has not much time left, that the Abakuá sound is coming.” (Román Díaz) Pedrito also pays particular attention to the choral harmonies; with Kamilo and Maribel they experiment with the creation of Prohibition’s chorus. This resulted in a totally different version of Protesta Carabalí, the song’s real name, a classic made famous by Pedro Fariña and Juan Campos Cárdenas “Chan” in Cuba.

Thus this project is invested in Rumba’s multiple trajectories and layers to demonstrate the presence of history and memory, as they conflate momentarily within Rumba’s contemporary sound, “lo antaño con lo moderno.” (Román Díaz) While Rumba is a highly intellectual, emotional and spiritual, it is also about street culture. Thus where there is rumba, there is controversy, gossip and poetic conspiracies.


This recording captures Pedrito and Román’s musical chemistry right after their arrival from Havana, thus documenting their unique interpretation of their generation’s sound, the Rumba guarapachanguera, a grass-roots music movement that emerged in the late 1970s and that introduced a different Rumba rhythm, the interplay of beats and rests, or what the rumberos call “silences.” The guarapachanguero style juxtaposes traditional instruments with the invention of new ones, for example the “raspadura” drums. Raspaduras are pyramidal wood box instruments which size determines their tonality. Marielito Manuel Martínez Olivera "El Llanero" baptized the guarapachanguero by naming it before his departure from Cuba in 1980. The rhythm, however, was actually invented by his neighbors and cousins, the López brothers, better known as "Los Chinitos," a Rumba family from La Korea suburb in Havana. Los Chinitos, Francisco Mora “Pancho Quito,” Jacinto Schull “El Chori,” and the ensemble of Yoruba Andabo were this musical movement’s precursors and Pedrito and Román’s direct influence.

The invention of the guarapachanguero’s new rhythm and drums is a key indication of Rumba’s improvisational nature, an acoustic elaboration that showcases Rumba’s experimentation based on a profound sense of polyrhythmic knowledge based on the clave (performed with two wood sticks or two different spoons) timing, and the necessary conversation among drummers, singers and dancers. Thus improvisation or inventar (to invent) is a great example of the rumbero idiosyncrasy: anything rumberos think becomes a Rumba lyric, anything the rumbero touches becomes an acoustic surface, and when the police arrives there are no drums on sight but wood trunks, suitcases and spoons.

Participating artist include, Pedrito Martinez, Roman Diaz, Alfredo Diaz "Pescao", Maribel Garcia Soto, Ileana Santamaria, Kamilo Kratc.

If you are interested, which you probably should be, you can buy "Routes of Rhythm" by clicking here.