[JPL] Tata Güines, 77, Cuban Master of the Congas, Is Dead

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 11 21:02:50 EST 2008

February 7, 2008
Tata Güines, 77, Cuban Master of the Congas, Is Dead 
Tata Güines, one of the most important percussionists
on the tumbadora, or conga drum, in the first
generation of Afro-Cuban jazz and son montuno, died on
Monday in Havana, where he lived. He was 77. 

The cause was a kidney infection, according to Cuban
state media. 

Known for drawing a great range of sounds from his
drums, with his fingernails as well as his hands, he
was highly imitated, one of the best tumbadora
soloists of his time, along with Chano Pozo and Patato

Born Federico Arístides Soto in Güines, southeast of
Havana, the son of a musician who played the
six-string instrument called the tres, Mr. Güines
moved to Havana in 1946. By the 1950s he was working
with major Cuban bandleaders, including Peruchín, Bebo
Valdés, José Fajardo and Chico O’Farrill. In the late
1950s he played as a soloist on the enormously
influential recordings made for the Panart label of
Cuban jam sessions led by Israel (Cachao) López,
originally released as “Descargas en Miniatura.”

Also by the late 1950s he had joined forces with the
pianist Frank Emilio Flynn, forming a new band,
Quinteto Instrumental de Musica Moderna, later known
as Los Amigos. But with the rise of the nueva canción
singer-songwriter movement in Cuba, instrumentalists
like Mr. Güines were falling out of favor. His second
wind came with his participation in the “Estrellas de
Areito” sessions in 1979, recordings made for Egrem,
the Cuban state record company, which revived the
descarga style from 20 years before. 

By the ’90s, even before the waves of recognition for
older Cuban musicians started by the “Buena Vista
Social Club” film and record, Mr. Güines was
recognized as an old master, and toured often. He
recorded with the young conguero Miguel (Angá) Díaz,
his greatest stylistic descendant, on the 1995 record
“Pasaporte,” which won the Egrem album of the year
award, Cuba’s equivalent of a Grammy. 

He worked with other young bands, including Orlando
Valle’s, and Jesús Alemañy’s band Cubanismo; he also
recorded “Chamalongo,” with the Canadian saxophonist
Jane Bunnett, and played on the title track of Bebo
Valdés and Diego el Cigala’s popular 2003 album,
“Lágrimas Negras.” 


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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