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From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz$
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Raul Fernandez

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247079

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247079.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Drumming in Cuban

Drumming in Cuban

(p.83) Chapter Five Drumming in Cuban
From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz

Raul A. Fernandez

University of California Press

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

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