One of the highlights of my March 2016 trip to Cuba was visiting the small city of Güines, a major historical center of Cuba’s sugar industry, 50 kilometers southeast of Havana.
The city center has a beautiful town square and many handsome private homes and is the birthplace of not one but two Cuban music legends: Tata Güines and Arsenio Rodríguez.
By an accident of fate, the two were raised so closely together, if you have a good arm you could throw a rock from Tata Guines’s childhood home, (a one room former slave cell) to Arsenio’s childhood home, (a small house on the street just beyond the barracks compound.)
Along with Chano Pozo and Patato Valdés, Güines, who was born in 1930, is considered one Cuba’s greatest masters of the tumbadora, the conga drum.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of excellent video of his work.
First, Güines with a group of friends (“Los Amigos”): pianist (Frank Emilio), flautist, (Miguel O’Farril), bassist (Chachuito) and timablero (Guillermo Barreto).
Güines tells a bit of his life story which is followed by a solo
Güines with the legendary rumba group Yoruba Abdado and Changuito (filmed in 2002)
And now, for a lesson from the master.
Spanish and/or French will come in handy here. If not an attentive pair of eyes and ears will help.
Want more instruction?
Whether you play or are simply someone who loves and is fascinated by the music, this tutorial with Changuito (José Luis Quintana) and Giovanni Hidalgo will change your ears – for the better – forever.
Click here: Inside the Conga
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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