Drumming in Cuban

Raul A. Fernandez

in From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247079
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939448 | DOI:
Drumming in Cuban

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This chapter provides a biographical essay on a prominent Cuban musician, Ramón Mongo Santamaría, who is credited with making the Cuban drum known as the conga (or tumbadora) an integral part of U.S. music, whether jazz, rock-and-roll, soul, reggae, or other modern genres. The conga is a Creole drum developed in Cuba from central and West African predecessors. Today it is everywhere; either as lead instrument or as fundamental accompaniment to all kinds of music, from U.S. pop to Mexican norteña, from Latin jazz to Las Vegas show orchestras. The musical biography of Mongo Santamaría reveals a constant back-and-forth between two styles of performance and recording. On the one hand, he distinguished himself as a performer of Cuban music in very traditional forms: folkloric rumbas, mambos, pachangas, and so forth, and on the other, developed his own style of fusion by combining jazz, Cuban-origin rhythms, and the sounds of soul music. No other percussionist had greater impact on the diffusion of Afro-Cuban folkloric music or recognition within mainstream jazz, or his own unique mixture of Cuban, jazz, and soul music.

Keywords: conga; creole drum; folkloric music; Ramón Mongo Santamaría; Cuban-origin rhythms; folkloric rumbas

Chapter.  5229 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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