Friday, January 30, 2009


Guess who is going to be playing tonight @ La? ?

My favorite group (and yours), be there and don't miss the excitement because you never know exactly what they are going to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Classic Anya Ade pics...

Here are "vintage", Anya Ade pics showing most of the regulars that play with Felix's tambor ( I got this off of Felix's facebook).

(Top L-R: Danny Maldonado, David, Echi (?), "Oso"(?), Jonathan Troncoso. BottomL-R: Nicky Laboy, Oludare Bernard, "Bembesito" Lora, Photo Credit Felix Sanabria)

(L-R: Echi (?), Jonathan Troncoso, Oludare Bernard, "Bembesito" Lora, Emery Damon, Photo Credit: Felix Sanabria)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rumba en NY/NJ

Barry Cox forwarded an email from George Jimenez. Apparently there are going to be some regular rumbas happening in and around the "city" for the time being.

Rumba en NY/NJ

1) AFROLATINO CAFÉ Con Rumba Cubana

Place: Brecht Forum, 451 West St (West Side Hwy) btw Bank & Bethune Sts./entre Bank y Bethune St.

Time: Every Other Sunday 5:30 pm – 9 pm Suggested donation: $6

Jan. 25, Feb 8, Feb 22, Mar 8, Mar 22, Apr 5, Apr 19, May 3

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: (212) 242-4201.


Place: 4418 Bergenline Ave @ 45th St (2nd floor above La Roca supermarket)/ @ 45th St. (2do piso arriba del supermercado La Roca)

Union City, NJ

Time: Sundays 5 pm – 9 pm


Place: 339 E. 115th St. btwn. 1 and 2 Ave., 2nd floor/entre la 1ra y la 2a Av. (2do piso)

El Barrio, New York, NY

917 478-4612

Time: Sundays 8 pm – 1 am

Friday, January 23, 2009

LP21 Discounts

If you are short on scratch but still have a yearning desire to learn Bomba y Plena from "la mata", maybe LP21 can help you out...

Youtube Vids

The following videos have been posted on "youtube", but not by Willie or I. I just wanted to highlight them for the players they feature.

Yambu @ Brecht Forum, Gene Golden- quinto, Skip Burney- tres dos, Matanzas (?) - guagua
(Video Credit: NaciPaBailar)
Guaguanco @ Brecht, Skip - quinto, ? - tres dos, Bailando Guaguanco: Pedro Domech, Tito Sandoval, Rita Macias, Xiomara Rodriguez
(Video Credit: NaciPaBailar)
Tata Cepeda - bailando, Obanilu Allende- primo
(Video Credit: tatacepeda)
Patato (ibae) and Friends
(Video Credit: chegodoy)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boricua Roots Music - Yerbabuena

(Property of Yerbabuena, Inc)

Back in 06', Tato Torres and Bryan Vargas (producer) put out an album entitled, "Boricua Roots Music". I wasn't in NY at the time, and I honestly forgot how I got my hands on the CD (maybe on Ebay?), but I did and gladly so. For me, this was a first in showcasing the talents of a new breed of NY percussionist, as cats like Nicky Laboy, Obanilu Allende, Jorge Vazquez made up the roster. Whether they played a seis corrido, holandes, plena, sica, swung and it demanded attention. If your like me, buying a cd in a way is like buying into the reputation of the individuals listed on the liner notes, and since I saw names I was familiar with (i.e. Nicky, Oba, Jorge, Bryan V, Tato, Raquel Z Rivera), I knew this was going to be a project that was worth the price of admission.

Bomba y Plena has had a long history of development in NYC. Notable groups and players such as Heny Alvarez, Aurora Florez and Yeyito (Amigos de la Plena), Victor Moñtanez y Los Pleneros de la 110, Sammy and Nelly Tanco, and of course Chema and his crew have all kept the artform alive and kickin' since the late 60's, 70's, also Willie did mention to not forget to put down Jovan Romero, (please forgive if I missed anyone). Nowadays groups like Alma Moyo, Bambula, Zon del Barrio, LP21, Yaya, and Yerbabuena are continuing to not only carry the torch, but blaze new paths in keeping this tradition a "living tradition" and not just a remnant of the past.

So all that to say, that Yerbabuena's offering, "Boricua Roots Music" is as Tato says,

"Like nothing you've ever heard before, and yet like everything that leads to a contemporary Puerto Rican musical expression... like our parents record collection on our turntables... "

I especially like "Lola/No Me Cuques", as it goes from an energetic "seis corrido" to a equally energetic, yet different "holandes".

More from Yerbabuena's Myspace site:

YERBABUENA (one word) is a group of individuals who come together to play the music that they love under the musical direction of singer-composer-musician Tato Torres. It is composed of musicians, singers and dancers from the New York City area, who share an intense passion for the musical traditions of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The last thing that will come to your mind while at a YERBABUENA event is that you're watching a show, it feels more like a cross between a jam in the park, a spiritual ceremony and a family reunion. They convey wholeness and harmony, and their music is moving beyond belief. The music they play is, by nature, participatory. Whether bomba, plena or música jíbara, it's all interactive. And being witness to their vibrant sounds and the deep joy that making music together gives them, just leaves the audience no choice but to join in the chorus or dance for the drums. After a YERBABUENA session, you'll be uplifted, tired and happy.

The concept of YERBABUENA developed during the summer of 1999 at the renowned Rincón Criollo Cultural Center (aka "La Casita de Chema") in the heart of the South Bronx, and has been growing since. It developed out of the need for cultural expression, redefinition and re-appropriation of the Puerto Rican musical heritage by a new generation of Boricuas. For a long time, Puerto Rican musical traditions have been constricted by commercial culture and generally limited to holidays and "folkloric" presentations.YERBABUENA is an important part of the struggle to develop and promote identity through living Puerto Rican musical traditions such as bomba, plena and música jíbara.

While well-recognized Boricuas like Willie Colón, Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin are known worldwide for their "Latin" flavor, groups like Plena Libre, Los Pleneros de la 21, Viento de Agua, and now YERBABUENA, have been changing the way people listen to traditional Puerto Rican music in New York City and beyond. YERBABUENA reclaims the Puerto Rican music often branded as "folkloric," refusing to accept its packaging as frozen-in-time museum pieces, only vaguely connected to contemporary culture. Instead, they make gorgeous music that incorporates past and present. YERBABUENA taps right into the core of who Boricuas are as a People.

Boricua Roots Music
Boricua Roots Music is a musical movement in which Boricua musicians have combined and re-combined elements of traditional and/or folkloric music as contemporary musical expressions. This style of modern music, which reaches back to the roots of Boricua (Puerto Rican) tradition has come to be called "roots music" or "música de raíz" in Spanish. The movement is also often referred to simply as "roots" or "raíces" in Spanish.

So if you want to buy the CD and are in the NYC area, you can go to:

El Barrio Music Center1870 Lexington Ave. (bet. 115 & 116 Sts.),El Barrio, NYC

Casa Amadeo Record Shop786 Prospect Ave.,The Bronx, NYC

If not, you can get it through their myspace site.

Now, I can't wait till Alma Moyo, puts out their CD, which is supposedly in the making from what I hear...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations Mr. President

A new era has begun with the swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama as our 44th President. Congratulations to him and his lovely wife Michelle. May Olofi guide them in the tasks ahead.

Bomba Classes - POSTPONED!!

This is the latest from Julia:


Alma Moyo's BOMBA CLASSES (at Hybryd Fight Dance Studios) are temporarily postponed due to construction challenges at our space We are aiming to start all sessions soon, so keep in touch! Thank you for your interest, we will see you soon!

**Come and check out Alma Moyo on SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7TH 2009 ~ 9:00 pm ~@Camaradas, El Barrio2241 1st Avenue and 115th Street, El Barrio, NY $5.00 coverIn a special performance in collaboration with the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute that celebrates Afro-Boricua heritage with live bomba music, song & dance. The evening will also begin with a special opening performance of live Afro-Bolivian music!

For more information about the new class schedule and/or to sign up on Alma Moyo's mailing list, contact us at: / /

(Alex LaSalle @ a Workshop, Photo Credit: Alma Moyo)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Anya Ade = Ilu Aye = The Young Lions

From the looks of it, I think this was at a gig in support of Obama. Ilu Aye with Oludare Bernard (son of Canute Bernard, ibae) to the left on okonkolo, I think JBlak is on Iya, Emery Damon is to the right on itotele and Bembesito is singing akpwon of course. Bembe gave me permission to post this, as I thought it would be nice to post a pic showing some of the other cats that play with Anya Ade.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

In Support Of The Spoken Word 10/30/98

There are members of my generation who will remember the Last Poets and their particular blend of progressive poetry accented by percussion. Amazingly, more then 35 years later, the Last Poets continue to spread their message. Today, there are any number of both groups and individuals who use the format to express their points of view. In this video we play our instruments in support of a group of young poets who are fighting for better living conditions in their homeland of Indonesia. Kali Ramirez, Victor Montanez, Adrian Garcia and myself are in attendance.

Bembe on the Lower East Side

Some of the fellas and a lady put on a Folkloric show in Loisaida in a beautiful vest pocket park. Nadir leads the group on vocals (Akpwon) and shekere and is backed up by Izzy Yemaya on shekere, Rubio on guataca, Apache on caja and Anthony on shekere. Ajna is the featured dancer and doubles on shekere as well.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reminder - Bomba Classes

Message from Julia:

Hola Familia,

Just a quick reminder that Alma Moyo's Bomba dance and percussion dance classes will begin next Thursday, January 22nd @ 7:00 pm - all students, ages and skill levels are welcomed! Ladies - please bring a dance skirt if it's available to youPercussion Students - please bring your own instruments! Any questions, please feel free to contact me! See you all there!

Julia L. Gutierrez-Rivera

Click here...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From La Yuma to Ilu Aye

(Danny Maldonado, Camilo Molina, JBlak, Photo Credit: Harold Martinez)

Without question Ilu Aye is one of the NY Folkloric music Scene's most important groups. Not only are they playing Afro Caribbean music of the highest caliber, but the group has been fertile ground for other young new talents (besides the mainstays). Those that make up the roster of Ilu Aye belong to an extended family of percussionists, dancers, historians, artisans, photographers, videographers, designers (graphic, etc...), singers, that all share and co-exist among each other. Your almost guaranteed to see members of Ilu Aye playing with Alma Moyo, and vice versa, much in the same way you wouldn't be surprised to see Julia Gutierrez (LP21) dancing at a gig in which Ilu Aye is playing.

I posed the question to Jonathan Troncoso, and this is what he had to say about the beginnings of Ilu Aye (03'):

"The first members of "La Yuma" were me, Nicky (Nicky Laboy), Bembe (Osvaldo Lora), Papote (Papote Jimenez, member of Cachimba Inolvidable), David Gomez (timbalero and batalero extraordinaire), Ramin (Ramin Quintana, currently in Tampa and playing with Rene Lopez II) and Oba (Obanilu Allende), but --- tried to change the name to "Tambu Ire" and we had a big argument and because of the argument we asked our muertos, "What was going to be the name?" And we started putting in names like "Ilu Ire", and the muerto said no, then we asked what about "Ilu Ara Aye" and the muerto said no, and then we asked about "Ilu Aye" and the muerto said yes with flying colors..." (JBlak, 09)

When you look at the how the group started probably not one of the members were over 30, and many probably weren't even over 25 if that. If you are in NY area, and Ilu Aye is playing, you need to catch them. More info to come...

...Jonathan just sent me some more info to clarify, just in case my post was misleading in any way.

Hey just for the info, Norka (Nadal) owns the barriles and she's been a member for 2 and half years and Oba (Obanilu Allende) is not in the group and Julia (Gutierrez) is not a member as well. Just in case the actual members are me, Nicky (Laboy), Bembe (Osvaldo Lora), Camilo (Molina), Norka Nadal, Fidelito Tavares and Danny Maldonado..." (JBlak, 09)

Monday, January 12, 2009

A taste of Columbia @ the Sport's Bar, Bronx NY

Sport's Bar, on Castle Hill in the Bronx, 4/6/05

NY Rumba 101 Orchard Beach

In the 60's, there were three locations where one was almost always assured of finding some drumming going down. One was Central Park, which began at Bethesda Fountain and then moved over the hill West to it's present location past the bridge near the row boat lake. Then you had Marcus Garvey Park which back then was called Mount Morris. Located at 5th Ave. and 124th to 122nd Sts., the park had drummers playing there in the early 50's. Queen Latifah filmed one of her first videos at the park's highest point which looks out over the Harlem community. Then you had Orchard Beach. Known as the Bronx Riviera or Horse Shit beach depending upon your point of view, Robert Moses, the great city planner, created a beach where there had been none before. Opening in the mid 30's, Orchard Beach rapidly became one of the Bronx's favorite weekend retreats. It is very possible that I had been there prior to being born as my parents frequented the beach on a regular basis and I'm sure my mother went there while carrying moi. The beach was divided into 13 sections, each reflecting various cultural and racial identities. Section 9 had a picnic area just off of the boardwalk and I remember vividly those of Ukrainian heritage eating our foods and playing our music while dancing the folk dances from the "old country." Time went by, demographics changed and from this emerged a new paradigm of beach use. Sections 11-13 became White working class enclaves with Italians dominating population wise. Sections 5-11 were frequented by African Americans and a smattering of other folks. It was perhaps the most diverse part of the beach. Sections 1-4 became in essence, an extension of the Bronx and Manhattan's Puerto Rican community. It was here that the rumba was played and a tradition begun. By the time I was 14 (1963) I was practically living at Orchard. My crew would arrive on Friday after school and stay until Sunday evening...sleeping on the beach, living off of hot dogs and bacalaitos and consuming copious amounts of cannabis. It has been decades since anyone has been allowed to sleep on the beach at this point. The police put an end to it. Such was the reputation of section 1 that would be Latin Music stars such as King "El Solitario" Nando used the beach as a background for a photo for one of his hit albums. There were sure to be drums being played all day Saturday and Sunday. I learned several of the popular coros, "Tu ve yo no lloro tu ve," and "Ave Maria morena," among them so that I could participate. This was 7 years before I began to study the drum in earnest but the seed was firmly planted by these experiences. When not playing, there was plenty of mambo dancing going on. There would literally be 50 radios of various dimensions tuned to the same station, uniting into a cacophony of Bugalu, Cha Cha and Guaracha. The boardwalk was instantly converted to a ballroom as scores of dancers took to the floor.

There are those whose intolerance will not allow for the expression of a culture different then their own. Racism, the ignorance of which knows no bounds, reared it's ugly head on more then one occasion leading to the suppression of the drum several times. This was also the case in Central Park and the drummers of Marcus Garvey are now fighting for their right to express themselves free of the censorship some would impose upon them. The Mariel boat lift bred new life into the rumba scene and Orchard saw a resurgence of a waning tradition. The location has changed to a pathway leading from the parking lot to the boardwalk near section 5. Go on a Sunday about 3PM if you'd like to learn a coro or two and participate. Who may be inspired to pick up a drum.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interview w/ Felix Sanabria

(Jose Rivera, Willie Everich, Photo Credit: Ralph Duque)

In October of 08' I made a trip to NY to catch up with Willie, Jose and Alfie, but also to conduct a comprehensive interview with Felix Sanabria, "Awo Orunmila Oshebile". We mapped it out and choose a Saturday when everyone was free, and headed out to Staten Island. Felix and his lovely wife Susan greeted us with open arms and Susan hooked up a wonderful meal that was slammin'. At the end off the night we walked away with 4 hours of interview material. 4 hours!!!
Now that is not only alot of information to go through but also alot of material to edit. So until now we are still working on being able to present to you the clips in a manner we feel most presentable. The amount of information and conviction from which Felix told us his history was not only informative, but moving as well. For Willie and I, that is all the validation we need to "do what we do".

(Felix doing his thing, Video Credit: Ralph Duque)

So all that to say, that soon enough we will have parts of Felix's interview up on the blog. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hangin' with the Legends

Here I am with Totico and Victor Venegas, two of the true legends of this music. For those of you who may not know...Vic was one of the most prolific bassists in the last 40+ years. He was a first call bassist in NYC for years and his credentials run the gamut from Cortijo Y Los Cachimbos to Machito. I first saw him in 1964 at the Schaefer Beer concerts which were held in Central Park's Wollman Ice Skating Rink during the summer months. He was playing with none other than Mongo Santamaria. He recorded many albums with the Mighty Mongo. Vic passed away about 3 years ago and is truly missed by those whose lives he touched. Totico is still active in the folkloric scene in NY con su juego de Aña Fundamento.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tribute to Puntilla @ The Schomburg

Willie just emailed me the following:

(Puntilla (ibae), Photo Credit: CCADI)

Tribute to Orlando "Puntilla" Rios Concert Master Afro-Cuban Bata DrummerJanuary 10th 2009 – 7.00pm

Special Performances by: Nueva Generacion – founded by Orlando "Puntilla" Rios and Olufemi Mitchell

New Yor-Uba - founded by Michele Rosewoman

And a short preview of the documentary When the Spirits Dance Mambo. Produced by CCCADI.

Musical Director Puntilla

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 515 Malcolm X Blvd @ West 135th St New York, NY 10037 Tickets: $15 each To purchase tickets, call The Schomburg Shop at (212) 491-2206. Ticket charge hours, Tuesday through Saturday, Noon to 6 p.m. Part of the proceeds will be donated towards a youth drummer scholarship in recognition of Puntilla Orlando "Puntilla" Rios joined the ancestors on August 12th, 2008. This concert will celebrate the contributions that Orlando "Puntilla" Rios has made to maintaining the rich sacred Afro Cuban traditions in New York City and internationally. A master traditional leader, popular musician, teacher and mentor since his arrival to New York from Cuba he shared his profound knowledge with all communities. For more information please contact Monthina Williams or 212-307-7420 ext 3006

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bomba Classes - Washington Heights

I just got an email from Julia on some upcoming classes taught by none other than herself and Alex LaSalle.

Thursdays, 7:00 pm8:30 pm

Hybrid Fight Dance Studios
1828 Amsterdam Ave (btwn 150 151 Sts)
Washington Heights, NY 10031
C train to 155th Street


Intensive Puerto Rican Bomba

Honoring our cultural heritage and spiritual legacy
Alexander LaSalle (Director, Alma Moyó)
Julia GutiérrezRivera (dance teacher)

For more information: / /
About Alma Moyo:

Alma Moyo is an Afro-Boricua musical group dedicated to the preservation of Puerto Rico's oldest living African musical and cultural tradition, la Bomba. Founded in 2002, under the musical direction of Alexander Vale LaSalle (Moca, Puerto Rico), the group's members are a talented intergenerational mix of musicians, educators, community organizers and historians from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Offering performances, school-based residencies, workshops and lectures, since its inception, Alma Moyo has toured regionally and collaborated with numerous bomba collectives in the US and Puerto Rico, all to critical acclaim. The group is hailed as the next movement in Pan-Caribbean Musical Expression, and is considered as NYC's new bomba ensemble powerhouse.

BOMBA has its roots in the Western coast of Africa and especially in the Congo/Bantu people of Central Africa. Bomba refers to a Bantu word that translates according to the Kikongo language into "drum" and "music". Bomba arrived in Puerto Rico during the slave trade in the late 1500's, where it continued to evolve, picking up influences from New Orleans, Haiti, Guadaloupe and other Caribbean islands. Bomba music follows the Call and Response tradition common to all African music and has served as a means of communication where members of the community express the reality of their daily life through song and dance.

About the Instructors:

Alexander LaSalle, a researcher & lecturer of the oral history of Afro Antillean traditions, Mr. LaSalle 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. As the founder/director of Alma Moyo, one of NYC's most powerful Bomba ensembles, Alex works dedicatedly to honor the legacy and voice of the ancestors from the bomba communities stemming from Mayagüez, Cataño and Guayama. Alex is a member of Los Pleneros de la 21, Juan Usera y La Tribu and has performed with numerous groups both in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States

Julia L. Gutiérrez-Rivera weaned as a child on bomba and plena, received formal training as a part of Los Pleneros de la 21's Bomba and Plena Children's Worshops' Pioneer Class. As a young woman, she is now recognized as one of NYC's premier Bomba and Plena dancers of her generation. Taught by many of NY's bomba and plena luminaries, including founding members of Los Pleneros de la 21, Eugenia Ramos, Paco Rivera, Tito Cepeda, and Roberto Cepeda, Julia embraces diverse regional influences in her dance as a member of Los Pleneros de la 21, Alma Moyo, and Bámbula. Julia has also worked with La Tribu, William Cepeda's Afro-Boricua and Afro-Rican Jazz ensembles, Papo Vázquez Pirate Troubadours and Plena Libre. Julia has provided workshops for students of all ages nationally for the past four years.

The Spirit Ensemble

As we will do on ocassion I'm taking the blog off the rumba grid to talk about a fantastic group called the Spirit Ensemble. In its 30 plus years of existence, the Spirit has played all over the country, celebrating the Africanismo in much of today's modern music. Featured among the members are the one and only Chief Bey (Ibae) about whom volumes can be written. Suffice it to say he was a mentor and spiritual godfather to scores of percussionists who belonged to his Ocha Ile. Neil Clark, Randy Weston's wonderful percussionist is also in attendance as is my buddy of more then 34 years, Jimmy Cruz on piccolo, flute and shekere. Zuleka, the organizer of this particular version of the Spirit Ensemble is featured in the first video talking about his musical background and the history of the group. Some of the performance video, which was from a live Kwanzaa show at the Museum of Natural History in NYC (12/26/99), was being used to capture still shots for a documentary of the group. Zulekas sudden demise put the project onto a back burner. Please overlook the out of focus scenes as the shots were being captured. Three of their tunes are featured.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Luciano "Chano" Rodriguez....Calabashologist

Of course there's no such thing as a Calabashologist, but if there were, Chano would have certainly held a PhD. His knowledge of the plant, the fruit it bears and its cultural and historical place in the lives of the People of the Caribbean Island groups becomes abundantly apparent in this video of his teaching abilities. Filmed at a beautiful retreat called Wave Hill in the Bronx, Chano shares his knowledge with a family who give him their undivided attention. Chano, who lived in a private house in the Sound View section of the Bronx, actually grew shekere size gourds along the side of the house. To say he had a green thumb is an understatement. Besides being an excellent percussionist with a collection of drums from various cultural backgrounds, he was also an instrument maker which will be seen in the video as well. We lost Chano a while back and the community lost a source of knowledge and wisdom that doesn't come along every day. Chano...those of us that knew you loved you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Couple of Thoughts...

So ends another year...and without missing a step a new one is afoot and already a day old. As you may have noticed Willie and I have been pretty occupied with end of year rituals and have not posted to the blog as usual as we would like. We will be posting full force soon though. For all you regulars I just want to say thanks for a good year (although we just started in August 08') and hope to see much more of you in 09'. For all the newbies, I hope you find this blog just as entertaining as it is informational. Willie and I have always subscribed to the motto, "Less is more", and although we do post alot, it is rarely ever fluff. If it ever turns into such a blog, than rest assured it will not last for too much longer. I'd like to personally thank Willie, whom without the blog wouldn't have lasted more than a month, Alfie Alvarado (AAA) whose drive and willingness to share has been an inspiration in and of itself, and of course Felix Sanabria, for his openness and willingness in sharing his time, home and information. Much more to come in '09.

Thanks to all...

Eddie Bobe
Tony S
Ilu Aye
Barry Cox
Susan Sanabria
all others whom have contributed in some form or fashion...