Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá: Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum

By Umi Vaughan

Batá identifies either the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba humans and the tradition and elegance of drumming, making a song, and dancing linked to it. This publication recounts the existence tale of Carlos Aldama, one of many masters of the batá drum, and during that tale lines the background of batá tradition because it traveled from Africa to Cuba after which to the U.S.. For the enslaved Yoruba, batá rhythms helped maintain the non secular and cultural practices of a people who were torn from its roots. Aldama, as mum or dad of Afro-Cuban song and as a Santería priest, continues the hyperlink with this custom solid via his mentor Jesus Pérez (Oba Ilu), who was once himself the relationship to the preserved oral historical past of the older iteration. through sharing his tales, Aldama and his pupil Umi Vaughan convey to gentle the concepts and ideas of batá in all its features and rfile the tensions of protecting a convention among generations and worlds, outdated and new. The publication comprises infrequent images and entry to downloadable audio tracks.

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Yet except they've got adequate godchildren, you don’t do the Mantel, you don’t play the total set of eggun rhythms. One time Papo Angarica, Nasakó, Luis Santa María . . . a gaggle of fellows went to a adolescence competition in Algeria i feel it was once. They went on a ship in 1965 or 1966, and at the method Nasakó begun rehearsing with Papo. by the point they got here again, they'd get a hold of a host of inventos inside of Kan Kan. a few of them all started announcing to these people who nonetheless performed the outdated manner that, “This tambor doesn’t pass that approach. ” Jesús may examine me and say, “Hogwash, that’s no longer what Pablo Roche taught us. Don’t swap! ” I don’t waste my time anymore attempting to clarify issues to humans. humans do what they prefer and that i maintain my mouth close. no longer many 109 Carlos C a r l os A l da m a’s L i fe i n Batá humans round the following play this toque. lots of those that do, play it in a different way from the way in which i used to be taught. One time the following in California they have been going to do a toque for eggun they usually desired to use masked dancers like in Africa. I threatened to go away, simply because that’s no longer what we do in Cuba. You can’t question me to return and sing as they do in Cuba, then pop out with components from one other method. [laughing] do this on your own. Don’t name me! W hite folks s each person has their very own política, their approach of doing issues. Jesús had his personal. Nicolás Angarica, and so forth. I don’t fairly comprehend Spiro’s política, yet he's the person who performs the main out right here. Like Puntilla. could he leisure in peace, that’s who performed the main in big apple. for each 5 instances Coyude’s drum performs, Puntilla’s performs thirty occasions! Spiro’s battery is arguably the easiest in California, as the drummers are constant. the opposite teams are looser, much less polished. again within the day in Cuba, nearly no whites performed batá. They began to play via Jesús. three With the advance of the revolution and the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional extra whites started to study batá. they usually performed good. Why now not? examine Flaco (a white American) who studied with many alternative academics and performs good. there are thousands of blacks in Cuba who can’t even play clave! So cross determine; it’s now not approximately race (no mires el color). Mon e y I haven’t had a lot success making money the following. i've been misunderstood. I by no means got here the following puzzling over pushing different drummers out to take their position (quítate tú pa’ ponerme yo). humans might say that during order to earn a living i'd need to depart the Bay sector. however it used to be Piri who opened the best way for me. Economically, i used to be by no means very not easy of him (nunca fui mentalista con él). yet he was once continuously beneficiant with me. We had the main paintings within the overdue Nineties and early 2000s. yet after that, there were fewer and less toques for us to play. 1 10 Di a spor a Carlos Carlos Aldama at his drum classification in San Francisco, 2005. Courtesy of Chris Walker. For years I’ve been giving a category on Saturday afternoons in San Francisco at Cesar Chavez undemanding tuition, within the car parking zone. It’s fifteen money for 2 hours. frequently approximately ten scholars appear to profit, yet extra humans are available while it’s hot.

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