[JPL] One of the all-time giants of percussion has passed

Larry Appelbaum jumpmonk at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 4 13:44:12 EST 2008


Thanks for the head's up. Here's the obit from Reuters. Also note that there are a handful of video clips of him on You Tube:  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tata+guines&search_type=&search=Search.

 HAVANA (Reuters) - "King of the Congas" Tata Guines, Cuba's 
most famous percussionist who shared the stage with Josephine 
Baker and Frank Sinatra half a century ago, died on Monday in 
Havana. He was 77.

 Cuban state media reported that Guines, whose real name was 
Federico Aristides Soto, died of a kidney infection.

 He was born in a poor black neighborhood in the town of 
Guines, just east of Havana, and made his first bongo drums 
from sausage and condensed milk cans.

 Guines became a legend playing the conga, a tall and narrow 
drum of Congolese origin brought to Cuba by African slaves. He 
performed with the top names in Cuban music like Arsenio 
Rodriguez, Chano Pozo, Bebo Valdes and Israel "Cachao" Lopez.

 In 1957, Guines moved to New York where he jammed with jazz 
greats Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson and Miles Davis at 

 Guines stunned audiences with his driving Afro-Cuban beat 
by playing five congas and singing at the Waldorf Astoria hotel 
in a solo performance that put percussion at center stage.

 Guines enjoyed celebrity and owned his own car, but never 
got used to life in the United State due to racial segregation, 
he said in an interview published last year.

 "Fame did not extend beyond the stage. Once you left the 
stage, it was like the signs said: 'Whites only,"' he said.

 Guines returned to Cuba in 1959 soon after Fidel Castro 
came to power in a leftist revolution that he helped fund with 
contributions from his earnings as a musician.

 Like other Cuban musicians who returned to fame late in 
life through the Buena Vista Social Club recording, Guines 
enjoyed renewed success in 2004 playing congas on the Latin 
Grammy-winning "Lagrimas Negras" (Black Tears) by pianist Bebo 
Valdes and Spanish Flamenco singer Diego El Cigala.

 (Reporting by Anthony Boadle)


> Just recieved news from Cuba that the legendary Tata Güines passed away
> duing the dawn hours of Monday February 4th in Havana, Cuba, he was 78 years
> of age.
> Tata was born Aristides Soto on June 30th, 1930 in the suburban Havana
> province town of Güines which gave him his artistic name. When he was 14
> years old and laready playing percussion he met and studied briefly with
> Chano Pozo before pozo moved on to NYC. tata has played and recorded with
> some of the finest names of Cuban, latin and jazz music, he was part of the
> late 50s landmark Cuban jazz group led by pianist Frank Emilio Flynn-Los
> Amigos he appears on several Cubanisimo, Jane Bunnet, Hilario Durán and
> Alfredo Rodríguez domestic releases as well as over a hundred sessions on
> Cuban recordings. Tata toured the US in the late 50s with Fajardo y sus
> Estrellas and is also on the seminal Cachao descargas recordings of the late
> 50s. In the USA, Enja released an album titled Passport where Tata and his
> most brilliant disciple, the late Angá-Miguel Díaz led the session. Señor
> Güines was proficient on bongó, tumbadoras(congas) and trap drums in Latin
> jazz, Cuban dance and religious music. He was known for hismano
> secreta-"secret hand" method of playing, a style he developed and was
> perhaps the best percussionist using his fingers having extraordinary
> dexterity producing a very personal sound.
> More info as it becomes avialable, I just wrote a few bio lines off the top
> of my head.....
> Aristided Soto Alejo aka Tata Güines June 30, 1930 Güines, Cuba to February
> 4th, 2008 Havana, Cuba
> Arturo
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