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 / /

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.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Angel R Rodriguez

(Angel R Rodriguez, Photo Credit: Dennis Flores)

One cannot expand enough on the way that drummers, singers, dancers like Quique Dreke, Totico, Patato, Virgilio and Eloy Marti, Frankie Malabe, Tommy Lopez, Julito Collazo, affected a whole generation of NY drummers. If I be allowed to further dissect the influence that these drummers and the like had on future generation, we could construct a sort of "Family Tree" that shows how each generation influenced the next. We won't go so far though.

I would have to discuss the topic a little further with Willie, but Angel Rodriguez probably fits in right after the Golden Years of the drummers, singers and dancers that hit NY, and happens to be one of the few that has managed to continue to play at a high level of technical proficiency throughout the years.

Here we see a small glimpse of what Angel has been doing lately.

(Angel @ Hunts Point, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

(Angel Rodrigez on tumbas, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

(Angel Rodriguze on chekere, Video Credit: Dennis Flores)

The last video shows him playing a beautiful chekere with a great bottom end. I wonder who made said gourd?

July 4th @ Totico's....'99

Despite oppressive temperatures going over 100 at times...Totico's backyard rocked to the beat of Batas and congas during an impromptu jam session. That's Chano in the beginning talking a little about drumming.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Conga Masters by Orlando Timbal

Another great poster for your viewing pleasure

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Check out this beautiful poster

Chembo's boy Evi hooked up this poster of Chembo along with Los Gigantes del Tambor. I found this on Facebook and I'm sure Chembo won't mind my sharing it with you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jesus Alfonso Miro, Ibae

It is with sadness that I share with all of you the passing of one of the giants. Jesus Alfonso Miro, reputed by some as the best quintero out of Cuba has passed on. There are not many rumberos that could admit to not studying his licks in efforts to sound better and do they best they could to imitate. When Jesus started repicando it was different, fresh, innovative, and it would remain so as long as he held the "quinto chair". It is no understatement to say that he was one of the greats, because he truly was. Rest in peace maestro.

The following was forwarded to my inbox by tambolero, Chris Walker out of SF:

A las 6 y 45 minutos del día de hoy, 3 de junio de 2009, a los 60 años de edad, falleció en su ciudad natal, Jesús Alfonso Miró, director musical de Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, compositor y percusionista excepcional. Hijo de padres matanceros, único varón de la familia Alfonso Miró y padre de 8 hijos, todos dedicados a la rumba como músicos o bailarines. Dos de ellos han sido parte de esta agrupación y en la actualidad Freddy Jesús Alfonso Borges, dotado también de la destreza de su padre, es el quinto del grupo y ya comienza a seguir también su camino como autor de sentidas rumbas.

Como músico de Los Muñequitos Jesús conoció casi todos los continentes; donde quiera que estuvo sembró amigos, discípulos, brilló en cada escenario, pero nunca olvidó su raíz y vivió toda una vida orgulloso de su estirpe rumbera, saboreando cada esquina de su barrio: la Marina. Desde los siete años hasta la fecha, participó como músico y bailarín en la Comparsa La Imaliana, fundada por su padre y por Félix Vinagera. Por un tiempo fue integrante de la Orquesta de Música Moderna de su ciudad y el grupo de Papa Goza. Desde 1967 es Director Musical y quinto del grupo Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, agrupación a la que amó profundamente y dedicó la mayor parte de su vida.

Como compositor fue imprescindible en el repertorio de esa agrupación, siendo conocidas sus obras en el mundo entero, como autor de Congo Yambumba, la Llave, Chino Guaguao, Lengua de Obbara, Saludo a Nueva York, y muchas otras que ya son clásicos de la rumba cubana. Muchos intérpretes prestigiosos como Eddy Palmieri dan cuenta de la sabrosura y popularidad de sus obras, incluyéndolas en sus discos y mencionándolo como un imprescindible en la música de nuestro continente.

Siendo aún muy pequeño de edad, junto a otro de los grandes de Los Muñequitos: Ricardo Cané, Jesús Alfonso partió a las montañas de Cuba para alfabetizar a los campesinos, graduándose más tarde como joven maestro revolucionario. Por sus grandes aportes a la música y a su pueblo, le fue conferida la condición de Hijo Ilustre de la Ciudad de Matanzas.
Jesús Alfonso, perteneciente a la sociedad matancera Efí Irondó Itá Ibekó, respetuoso portador de la regla de Osha, será recordado por todo su pueblo y muy especialmente por los rumberos de todo el mundo. Su nombre nunca será olvidado, su recia voz indicando cómo tenía que vibrar la música y el sonido de sus manos en el cuero, perdurarán en la memoria de todos los que le conocimos y le reconocemos como uno de los más insignes músicos de todos los tiempos, porque Jesús fue a la rumba como Cuní o Chapottín al son. Jesús le dio a la rumba su vida toda. Su nombre está sin lugar a dudas, junto a Chano, Tata, Papín y todos los grandes de la música cubana.

Su cuerpo se encuentra expuesto en el lugar donde cada día ensayan Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, en la calle del mismo nombre de la ciudad, número 7906, entre Contrera y Milanés. Se le honrará como merece hasta que sea sepultado en horas tempranas del día de mañana.

A su esposa Dulce María Galup, a sus hijos y demás familiares, a Diosdado Ramos y todos sus compañeros de rumba que tanto le han admirado y hoy están sintiendo profundamente su pérdida, les expresamos nuestras más sentidas condolencias.


(Video Credit: snusmumrik88)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Congrats Emery!

There is nothing more beautiful than the opportunity to witness the miracle of life. If all goes well I will be doing the same in a couple of months. In the meantime I wanted to take a moment to say congratulations to Emery Damon and wife Makiko for the new addition to the family. Neiro Kodama Damon, born in Brooklyn weighing in at a healthy 7lbs 14oz. Emery is a part of Felix's Anya Ade crew, and an integral part of the Bembe/Santo scene in NYC. From everyone at Sentimiento, congrats Emery, and we wish you and your family the best.

(Emery practicing okonkolo at Felix's crib, Photo Credit: Danny Maldonado)

(Makiko, Neiro, and Emery, Photo Credit: Emery Damon)

Raquel Z

Catarina Dos Santos - Release Party

The most excellent author/songstress/musician, Dr. Raquel Z Rivera reached out to me to post an some interesting dates featuring an interesting singer by the name of Catarina Dos Santos.

About the CD release: Catarina Dos Santos is an amazing singer/composer from Portugal who lives in El Barrio and does jazz mixed with Afro-diasporic/African roots music of Brazil, Cape Verde, Portugal and Angola music. I'm impressed by her sophistication and at the same time rootedness in traditions. Plus she is a great performer with a beautiful spirit.

Here is some info regarding the events from Catarina herself:

It's with great happiness that I announce the date of my CD Release Party. "No Balanço do Mar" will have its presentation June 4th at 7:30pm, at Pregones Theatre.

This cd is my first one with original music, and it's the result of a research of the musical links between Lisbon's African identity and the North East of Brazil. It was recorded last year, between Lisbon, São Paulo and New York, and includes musicians from Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique and Brazil. It's beautiful music, and I hope to see you all at this wonderful theatre. There will be an after party on Saturday, June 6th, 6pm, at my house, we will be cooking some great Angolan dishes, and I am getting ready to do a show that I directed at Camaradas, with a blend of Angolan and Brazilian music.

I was fortunate to have a sponsorship to bring from Lisbon two amazing musicians, Mick Trovoada, from Angola, and Rolando Semedo, from Cape Verde, and they will grace us with music that is rarely played in NY, and that will keep you dancin'!

So, here it is:

@ Pregones Theatre, 571-575 Walton Avenue, Bronx

(Take 2, 4 or 5 trains to 149th St. Grand Concourse (1st stop in the Bronx) and walk down 149th street 2 minutes, turn right on Walton Avenue.

- June 6th at 10pm - "FROM ANGOLA TO BRAZIL"
A Celebration of African Brazilian Music!
@ Camaradas, 115th Street and 1st Avenue, NYC

(Kimbombo (ao vivo no Chapito) - Catarina Dos Santos, Video Credit: soundbit1977)