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.