CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Explorations of AfroCuban Dance and Drum workshops in Arcata to start this weekend.

Friday, July 18, 2008

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Explorations of AfroCuban Dance and Drum workshops in Arcata to start this weekend.

Howie Kaufman puts on a very well planned and well executed series of Afro Cuban workshops up in northern California, every year in July. If you are serious about learning this tradition, this might be the place for you to become inspired to search for a deeper understanding of this amazing folkloric world.

In the past, they have had some very heavy players come to teach, and this year is also packed with talent and direct experience. The workshops with Francisco Aguabella are worth the trip alone, but there is much to offer players of all levels. The after parties are off the hook, as i am told.

This is one of the jewels, for those who dont usually have access to these players, or this tradition as it is lived in real time.

How blessed we are to have these cats up north put this together, and keep it successfully going year after year. Nice work!!

I talked to Howie once, never played with or met him, but he was very helpful in making some flight arrangements for some of the players to get down to the bay area for performances last year. Thanks Howie!!

Kaufman: Explorations in dance and drum

[photo of Howie Kaufman]Howie Kaufman grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to Arcata in 1982 to study math at Humboldt State. He had been playing drums since he was a teenager -- but not hand drums. In 1984 he met Peñalosa when David came up from Southern Humboldt to teach a percussion workshop, and with sponsorship from HSU's Extended Education, a week of drum and dance classes was held.

"Howie has created something that's pretty remarkable," said Peñalosa. "It's the biggest assemblage of Afro-Cuban folkloric masters in the country and it's right here in Arcata."

From the site:

[Photo of Lazaro Galarraga]

Lazaro Galarraga is a native of Havana, Cuba. He was a founding member of the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba. A world-renowned teacher, performing artist, choreographer and writer of Afro-Cuban music, culture and folklore, he has recorded, performed and taught across the U.S. and worldwide. He is now the musical director for the Caribbean Crew and for the Percussion Artists Workshop (PAWS) Afro-Cuban Folklore ensemble in Los Angeles.

Drum Instructors

Lazaro Galarraga (see above)

[photo of Francisco Aguabella playing conga]

Francisco Aguabella, the “virtuoso” percussionist of Afro-Cuban rhythms, was born in the province of Matanzas, Cuba. He gained notice for his secular drumming in Havana nightclub bands and for his mastery of the complex styles of Afro-Cuban ceremonial drumming. Aguabella is a legendary figure in the contemporary Afro-Cuban Lucumi tradition, and his mastery of the Batá drums is also well known. Since the 1950s, Aguabella has performed with Eddie Palmieri, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paul Simon, Poncho Sanchez, Malo, Cal Tjader, Santana, Tito Rodriguez and Peggy Lee. He currently performs with his own Afro-Cuban folkloric group at community festivals in the Los Angeles area.

Israel "Toto" Berriel playing conga

Israel “Toto” Berriel
was born in Matanzas City
, Cuba, and began his career at age 16 as an musician in Los Yumurinos, which had been mentored by members of the groups Afrocuba and Los Munequitos. Tito began performing with Afrocuba in 1988, and in 1991, began singing with Los Munequitos with whom he toured internationally. Residing in Canada since 2001, Tito continues to perform and teach traditional, popular, and folkloric music in Canada and abroad.

Jesus Diaz playing conga

Jesus Diaz is a native of Havana, Cuba. He has taught and performed in the S.F. Bay area since 1980. He also performs and teaches internationally with his all-percussion group Talking Drums. He has made over a dozen recordings and co-founded Bombo Music Productions in 1993, producing four records under the Bombo music label. Jesus has toured with Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Womack, Tito Puente, Pete Escovedo, Sheila E, Carlos Santana, Conjunto Cespedes, Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, Giovanni Hidalgo and Celia Cruz.

Erick Barberia

Erick Barberia was born in Havana Cuba. He began his studies in 1991 at the Escuela Vocacional de Arte Juan Pablo Duarte. He continued his studies in the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA), graduating in folkoric dances, and studying under professors such as Lazaro Pedroso, who was his first teacher of Cuban Folkloric song and percussion, and Alfredo Ofarril for dance. After graduating in 1996, Erick taught Cuban Folkloric song and percussion in the Escuela Nacional de Arte and in the Centro Nacional de Escuelas de Arte (CENSEA) for five years. Erick has played with drummers such as Angel Bolaños, Regino Jiménez, Papo Angarica, Nene Carvajal, and Cristóbal Larrinaga, among others. He currently lives in San Francisco and teaches private classes in Afro-Cuban Folkloric and Popular song, dance and percussion. He has also taught Cuban music and dance through the University of California, Santa Cruz.

[Photo of John Santos playing congas]

John Santos, multi-percussionist, is a major exponent of Afro-Latin music through innovative use of traditional forms and instruments with contemporary music, and record/event production. He’s worked with acknowledged masters such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Max Roach, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Orestes Vilató, Batacumbele, Steve Turre, McCoy Tyner, and Carlos Santana. Santos is a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution, has contributed to several international magazines, and has conducted countless workshops, lectures and clinics in the U.S. and Europe. He is also founder and director (1985) of the internationally renowned Machete Ensemble. Its CD, SF Bay, was a 2003 Grammy nominee, and their current (seventh) CD, Brazos Abiertos, is receiving international critical acclaim.

Michael Spiro with shekere

Michael Spiro is an internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator known specifically for his work in the Latin music field. He studied for seven years in an apprenticeship with Francisco Aquabella. He has studied in Cuba with musicians such as Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, Esteban "Cha-Cha" Vega Bacallao , Daniel Diaz, Juan "Claro" Blanco, Regino Jimenez, and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.


David Peñalosa has taught every year at the annual “Explorations in Afro-Cuban” program. A preeminent clave theorist, David is credited with conceptual guidance in several music instruction books, including The Tomas Cruz Conga Method Volumes 1-3 and Conor Guilfoyle’s Odd Meter Clave. David’s book, The Clave Matrix, is scheduled to publish this year.

Mark Lamson, through formal apprenticeships with Regino Jimenez and Esteban Vega Bacallao, obtained “Omo Ana” status, i.e., a fully-initiated folklorist in sacred Batá drumming. Mr. Lamson’s teaching experience includes Palomar College, San Diego State University, U.C. San Diego, U.C.L.A., and CSU San Marcos.

Mark Lamson

Mark Lamson has a thriving career as a drum set player, multi-percussionist and educator in San Diego. His studies with Cuban and Brazilian masters distinguishes this artist's background from others in his field. In the area of Afro-Cuban percussion, Mark has learned first hand from the best: "Cha Cha" (a founder of Los Meñequitos de Matanzas), Regino Jimenez, Mario Jáuregui, Filipe Alfonso and Roberto Vizcaino, to name a few. Through relentless study and practice with these master drummers, Mark has become an accomplished bata drummer. His studies with Brazilian masters include Miguel do Repinique, Zero and Jorge Alabe. Mark's command of Brazilian percussion is renowned. Currently, Mark directs the award winning Escola de Samba So E Mar, performs in Emi Ke Ke with Cuban folkloric master Felipe Garcia and works as a "first call" studio musician in San Diego. He also teaches a variety of drumming styles privately and in schools and is a member of the percussion faculty at California State University, San Diego. In addition, Mark co-directs the Palomar World Drum and Dance Ensemble with Patriceann Mead. He teaches the Brazilian/Cuban Drumming class at Palomar College.

Chris Walker has studied Cuban folklore since 1983. He has performed with a wide variety of groups both in the S.F. Bay Area and abroad, including Rumbafroson, Sandunga, Owo Ache and Alafia. His drumming is featured on several CDs and instructional videos, and he has presented at festivals in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and North Africa. Chris currently plays with ceremonial ensembles based in Oakland and San Jose. (Pictured in center)

Howard Kaufman is the founder and coordinator of the “Explorations in Afro-Cuban…” program. In addition, he is a Lecturer in Percussion at Humboldt State University, an Associate Professor in Percussion at College of the Redwoods, and has developed world percussion programs at local high schools in Humboldt County.

Colin Douglas is the musical director for Olorun, an Afro-Cuban folkloric dance company directed by Susana Arenas. He performs regularly in the San Francisco bay area with the band Parallel 23 and is an active member of the SF folkloric percussion scene. (pictured on right)

Scott Wardinsky has done extensive research and field work in Cuba, recording the masters and helping Cuban artists teach in the U.S. He has managed the U.S. tours for Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Lazaro Ros, Amalia Pedrosa and Régino Jiménez. He has taught Afro-Cuban folkloric percussion classes for the Dept. of World Arts & Cultures at UCLA.

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