Friday, February 27, 2009

Bambula 2/28

The hits just keeping coming...




& Guests

Performing the rich and powerful sounds of Afro-Puerto Rican BOMBA

SaTURDAY, Friday, February 28th 2009

Camaradas, El Barrio

(2241 East 115th Street, 1st Avenue NY NY 10035)

9:30 PM – 2:00 AM



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ilu Aye 2/27

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Si se trata del Gallo...

So apparently it seems that I have come across footage of how it's going down at "Los Gallos Social Club", in El Barrio. From the clip it looks like Nicky is on chekere, it looks like Izzy Davila with his back to the camera, but can anyone name the drummers? The tumbador looks familiar.

(Rumba at Los Gallos, video credit: jaysonmacho)

It looks like someone has provided some names (anonymously)...On quinto is Tony Rosa, on tumbador as I suspected is Abi Holiday, the tres dos player has yet to be identified though. Read the comment section for this post for the anonymous tip.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Message to a young percussionist.......

I'm not going to preach to anyone. It never did me much good. Rare is the individual wise enough to learn from observing and listening to others talk about their mistakes and not make the same ones. The human ego is such that we believe that we are immune and therefore must go through it ourselves to learn some of life's valuable lessons. No I will not preach, but rapidly coming up on 60 years of age, 37 years of which was spent playing my drums professionally, I can share some of my experiences which some of you may take to heart.
On the subject of talent let me say this. Our talent should be a source of humility. Some of us are born with more or less talent and Ive seen many with lots of natural talent never get where they wanted to go because of how they carried the gift around. I'll let you be the judge over how talented I am. There are many examples of my playing abilities on these pages. I'm smart enough to know that I had to work hard to get to the point that I achieved whereas with others it came much easier. Even though this was the case, I worked steady for years because I practised some other important behaviors beside the playing. Let your talent do your talking, you don't have to keep reminding everyone all the time how well you play. That gets tired real quick. Two, try to fit in with the situation. There may be other members of the group whom you don't particularly care for. The sound of the group is the priority and takes precedent over any petty rivalries. Please be on time for the gig, in fact be a little early. Making a group of musicians wait for you is selfish to say the least and will not make you any friends. Of course there will be unavoidable delays and an apology goes a long way towards good will.
Now Im going to talk about the dirty little secret most don't even want to think about, drugs and alcohol. Of those 37 years of playing, I spent nearly 20 of them under the influence of one chemical or another. To me, it made perfect sense that the word RUM was inside the word DRUM. I smoked lots of bud and sniffed and smoked a lot of cocaine during those 20 years as well. Now me and my fellow musicians fooled ourselves into believing that we played better under the influence. It's just not true. In fact it's a lie that has destroyed many talented individuals and sent many to an early grave. I remember the older Jazz musicians with whom I had the honor of playing when I studied at the Jazzmobile talk about the phenomenal Charlie Parker. Some of Charlie's contemporaries actually believed that the source of his extraordinary abilities were in the syringe he used on a daily basis. A whole generation of young musicians looking for Charlie's secret became junkies instead. Drugs and alcohol are insidious. They feel good for a long time then one day you wake up and you realize you need them. Bad news. I have been completely sober for 18 years now and even played in a sober band which carried the message of sobriety to others.
Last but not least, the new Lions of percussion are all READERS! They have studied and read and write music for that matter. My generation for the most part wasn't expected to read and we as congueros and other percussion committed the breaks to memory. This limits what you are able to do especially in the studio. I would urge you to learn to make you a well rounded player.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nicky Laboy

I wanted to share some videos showcasing the talents of Nicky "Niko" Laboy. A son of "El Barrio", Nicky has been playing for quite some time, and at a relatively young age has reached a pretty high technical proficiency on the drums. Nicky is at the forefront of a young group of drummers which are keeping the traditional alive and well.

In talking to Willie the other day, we were discussing the exuberant video of Anya Ade at the tambor in the BX, and one of the conclusions Willie came up with was that the "drum" was in good hands.

(per Nicky: this video was taken at Pete Congas house for his birthday. Segundo y Cajon - N. Laboy, Tumbador- Pete "El Gordo", Cajon- Abi Holiday, Quinto - Tito Ogbeate, Dancing - Tito Sandoval & Lisa, Video Credit: exquisitemambo)

(Nick "messing around" on a vintage Valje drum that he fixed up, video credit: twistednyc2)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Barril Construction - youtube vid

Check out this video I found on youtube showing Juan Fuentes (artisan) making a barril out of an old rum barrel (it looks like). Geordie, check it out you might find this especially useful.

(Video Credit: Afroroots)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Anya Ade

Check out these videos showcasing the young talents of Anya Ade at a tambor in the BX.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bembe 2 Iyesa

I had to put this up, in case you haven't been to La Pregunta to catch Ilu Aye, this is what you are missing.
Bembesito - akpwon, Danny Maldonado- atchere, Fidel Tavarez (?) - bells, Jonathan Troncoso- mula, Camilo Molina- caja, Nicky Laboy- cachimbo, Susan Sanabria - dancing for Ochosi....

Tribute to Puntilla Clip

Alfie has some footage from the Puntilla tributes that we are going to eventually put up on the blog, but I wanted to share this youtube video taken at the Schomburg Center. Unless I am mistaken it looks like Roman Diaz (I mistakenly thought it was Gene Golden) is on itotele, Pedrito is on caja, and Mauricio Herrera is on okonkolo.

Also you guys need to check out this Rumbajazz video, I can't embed it, but here is the link:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Da Bronx Rocks.....

and it always has....from Jazz and R&B at places like the 845 Club on Prospect Ave, to the great Sunday Latin Dances at the Hunt's Point Palace, on to Break Dancin' and your very first Hip Hop MCs, now a world wide phenomenon and last but not least, rumbas in the parks on those hot summer nights, the Bronx has been heavy in the talent department. I have been here for almost 60 years and am a witness to much of the cultural development of this truly remarkable place . Click on the photo to enlarge.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pa' La Rumba Otra Vez.......

It was another Saturday night and the rumberos met to do their thing on 182nd and Amsterdam Ave. Armando's Rumbacera was in full effect, 7/17/99.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Phantom Percussionist strikes back........

In the on-going Culture War, there will be acts of bravery that tell the powers that be ...we will not be denied! Symbols of oppression are removed and relegated to the bin of a shameful past. This photo was sent anonymously to bring hope to the Percussionists who are being persecuted for their Guaguanco. Que Viva La Rumba

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Angel Rodriguez....25 years later

From the 19 year old kid in the photo below to the consummate performer, educator, producer and director. The POINT, 1999.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Congueros de parque......."

Here is a vintage photo of a rumba taking place in Mulally Park, the Bronx, circa 1974. A 19 year old Angel Rodriguez is in the middle and that's Ray Marrero to his left. We need help to identify the rumbero to his right. Just about everyone was playing LP fiberglass congas at the time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Congratulations are in order

Congratulations to Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra for their triumph in the 2009 Grammy Latin Jazz category. If you have not heard the album yet you are missing some truly great music. We have several videos of Arturo's father, the late great Chico (the albums name is Song For Chico) for your viewing and listening pleasure on the Street Level Productions partner site. Arturo plays piano with his father on the vids.

Black and White In Color, Da Bronx

Remember that video of Los Afortunados at Black and White in Color? Well Susan Sanabria posted a pic, that I want to share with all of you.

Los Afortunados at Black and White in Color in the Bronx. From left to right - Roberto Borrell, Evelyn Smart, Abraham Rodriguez, (hat is on head of Felix Sanabria), Manuel Olivera, (eye and ear belong to Paula Ballan) and Nick Chevarria on the end..... Susan Sanabria

Monday, February 9, 2009

More Guagua's

Geordie is got some more bamboo and is hooking up some more guagua's, so if anyone is interested let me know and I'll pass the message along.

Isla Percussions

Since we are have been on the subject of artisans, I wanted to post this youtube video showcasing bata made by Isla Percussions out of CA. You have members of Los Rumberos de Cuba on Iya (Cusito), Itotele (Yosvanny), Okonkolo (Corto).

Sunday, February 8, 2009


To address the question circulating in the comments section of the blog, Caoba is the TAINO word for Mahogany. The Tainos were one of several tribes, the Arawak, Siboney and Caribe among them, that came from both North (what is now Florida) and South America to settle on the many islands of the Caribbean. Many words of Taino origin have worked their way into the Spanish language such as 'huracan' or hurricane. My Junior Tirado drums are most likely made of Honduran mahogany. There is a great museum right at the foot of the dirt path that leads to El Morro fort in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico that is dedicated to the Taino and their ancestors the Nis Taino. If you get a chance to travel to Boriquen (the Taino name for PR) it is a must to visit.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A quick reminder.......

Don't forget to check out the Partner site Street Level Productions for some rare and even one of a kind videos of Afro Caribbean and Latin Jazz music by some of the world's truly great artists.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lil Johnny Rivero

I put up this little diddy just to show you the blazing hand speed and cleanliness that Lil Johnny is capable of achieving. This is from a gig at a club called the Triad on 72nd St in NYC. That is Nicky Marrero to his right. Although short it's worth a listen for sure. His solo comes on the heels of a Victor Venegas solo.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rumba @ Los Gallos Social Club

It appears that the rumbas at Los Gallos, 339 E. 115th St bet. 1st and 2nd Aves., have gone so well that they have added Friday night rumbas to the schedule. The time on Sunday is 8PM to 1AM and Friday from 6PM to 11 PM

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Project: Timbas Ismael tumbador

So on Friday night I go to this guys house to jam and in his arsenal he has two, vintage Timbas Ismael drums that are in pretty bad shape. They are both cracked in various places, are covered with nicks and gashes, and have lugs with over 10 washers on them, plus old skins. But you know what? On top of that they still sounded pretty sweet, so me being the drum nut that I am, told him I'd take one at a time and see if I can fix them. It won't be done anytime soon, but at least I can work on them little by litte.

A couple of things. The hardware is still good and the rim is heavy duty, so no worries there. The bands seem to be in good shape although rather on the thin side (but they should work fine) and there are several cracks at the staves at the bottom of the drum and one big crack that almost goes from top to bottom. There is no alma, the flesh hoop is a little bent, the lugs may not be salvageable, but fortunately the wood looks like good old fashioned Puerto Rican Caoba (can anyone verify?).