CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba - from

Friday, May 30, 2008

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Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba - from

How incredible it is to know the grand master Carlos Aldama, with his amazing talent and experience. Its unbelievable how much has and continues to contribute to the tradition. I have so much respect for this gracious master.

We are also so lucky to have Francisco Barroso, the master dancer who also performed with Carlos in Havana.

some copy from on Conjunto Folklorico.


"The Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba was founded in 1960 in orderto preserve and pass on Cuba's unique cultural heritage to future generations.The greatest singers and dancers of the time were chosen for this task. To thisday the Conjunto continues to be the premier ensemble in a network ofgovernment-sponsored amateur and professional folkloric groups devoted toteaching and performing the culture indigenous to their towns and regions.

Although the Conjunto Folklórico Naçional specializes in thefolkloric music and dance of Havana province (where they reside), they alsocollect, study and disseminate Afro-Cuban culture from the entire island.Folkloric masters from the various provinces of Cuba come to the Conjunto toteach the resident masters and students. The visiting masters in turn, areencouraged to take the other masters' classes.

As Cuba's foremost folkloric ensemble, the Conjunto has, since itsinception, acted as an international ambassador of Afro-Cuban culture whiletouring throughout the world. Their school in Havana is a center for the manyforeigners who come from everywhere to attend ongoing courses in dance, drums andsinging. The Conjunto has won numerous international awards and appeared on filmand television. Many of its members have gone on to distinguished solo careers.

Música Yoruba consists entirely of Lucumí songs for theorisha, accompanied by batá drums. Recorded in the 1970s, this recordinghas captured a period when many of the Conjunto's founding elders were still inresidence.

The Performers:
Akpons (Lead Singers)

Lázaro Ros Lazaro Ros

Cuba's most famous akpón is Lázaro Ros, founding member of theConjunto. From early childhood, his talent set him on the path to becoming one ofthe great interpreters of the Lucumí language as used in Afro-Cubanrituals. Studying with Eugenio de la Rosa and other masters, he perfected hissinging technique and has become a nationally recognized virtuoso. His longcareer has included work in theater and films and many recordings. Always aninnovator, Lázaro's ground-breaking fusion efforts withSíntesis and Mezcla combine orisha songs with modern rhythmsand orchestrations. These days the master lives simply in Guanabacoa where hedevotes his time to singing in ceremonies and to developing his current group,Olorún, which includes many younger performers, thus fulfilling hisdesire to pass his knowledge on to the next generation.

Felipe Alfonso Pérez Felipe Alfonso Perez

Felipe Alfonso, a founding member of the Conjunto, had a legendary style ofsinging. Felipe's technique included a playful approach to timing that wasunparalleled. Playfulness characterized many aspects of his life. This recordingis probably the best documented example of this master's outstanding skills.Tragically, Felipe Alfonso died in November 1991 at the age of 43.

Zenaida Armenteros Zenaida Armenteros

A founding member of the Conjunto, Zenaida Armenteros is still with the group.Until recently she was the primary dancer of the orisha Oyá in theConjunto. Zenaida's singing career spans more than 40 years. She started out bytaking part in a singing competition on radio station Cadena Azul. One ofher early teachers was Obdulio Morales, an innovator who introduced the hornsection to the popular music known as Son (or Salsa outside of Cuba).Zenaida has sung in the most prestigious clubs in Havana, such as the Tropicana,and appeared as a singer in two films, Yambao and Mulata.Música Yoruba captures the marvelous quality of this incrediblesinger's voice.

The Drummers

Carlos Aldama (Iya Bata) Carlos Aldama

Carlos Aldama, a founding member of the Conjunto Folklórico, left thegroup in 1991. He studied batá under Jesus Pérez when that masterwas in residence at the Conjunto. Carlos has also worked with Alex Valdez,director of the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana. Other credits include recording withAdalberto Alvarez y su Son and more recently, a project involving bothLázaro Ros and the piano virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba. He is currently leaddrummer for Lázaro Ros' Olorún, and plays with Sergio Vittier.

Mario Jáuregui (Itotele Bata) Mario Juaregui

Another founding member, Mario Jáuregui studied batá with themaster Pablo Roche at the age of nine. He also played at the Tropicana nightclubwith Jesús Pérez. Mario played on the very first record offolkloric guaguanco, Guaguanco Afro-cubano (Grupo Folklórico deAlberto Zayas). Mario also played with Sergio Vittier. In addition to hisdrumming skills, Mario is an extraordinary rumba dancer, a talent he demonstratedin many Conjunto performances.

Ramiro Hernández (Okonkolo Bata)

Originally from Matanzas, Ramiro lives in Jata near Guanabacoa. He is still inthe Conjunto today and is among the new group of elders who have had the "baton"passed to them. Ramiro played with batá masters Jesus Pérez and"Trinidad" Torregrosa."

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