Federico Arístides Soto Alejo, better known as Tata Güines

Taken from NYC Rumba News posted by CARLOS MATEU

Edition,  adaptation and comments by Toni Basanta from Fairfax, Vermont,  USA

Tata Güines, one of the most important percussionists on the tumbadora, or conga drum, in the first generation of Afro-Cuban Jazz and Son Montuno, died  on February 04, 2008 in Havana, Cuba.

The cause was a kidney infection, according to Cuban state media.

Known for drawing a great range of sounds from his drums, with his fingernails as well as his hands, he was highly imitated, one of the best tumbadora soloists of his time, along with Chano Pozo and Patato Valdés.
Tata Güines Credit Reuters, 2006

Born Federico Arístides Soto Alejo in Güines, southeast of Havana, the son of a musician who played the six-string instrument called the Tres (El Tres), Mr. Güines moved to the center of Cuban capital  in 1946.

By the 1950s, he was working with major Cuban bandleaders, including Peruchín, Bebo Valdés, José Antonio Fajardo and Chico O’Farrill.

In the late 1950s, he played as a soloist on the enormously influential recordings made for the Panart label of Cuban Jam Sessions led by Israel (Cachao) López, originally released as “Descargas en Miniatura.”

Also by the late 1950s,  he had joined forces with pianist Frank Emilio Flynn and drummer Guillermo Barreto forming a new band, Quinteto Instrumental de Musica Moderna, later known as  El Combo Los Amigos.

But with the rise of the La Nueva Canción singer-songwriter movement in Cuba, instrumentalists like Mr. Güines were falling out of favor. His second wind came with his participation in the “Estrellas de Areito” sessions in 1979, recordings made for Egrem, the Cuban state record company, which revived the Descarga style from 20 years before.

By the ’90s, even before the waves of recognition for older Cuban musicians started by the “Buena Vista Social Club” film and record, Mr. Güines was recognized as an Old Master, and toured often.

He recorded with the young conguero Miguel (Angá) Díaz, one of his greatest stylistic descendant, on the 1995 record “Pasaporte,” led by flutist Orlando Valle “Maraca” which won the Egrem album of the year award, Cuba’s equivalent of a Grammy.

He worked with other young bands, including Orlando Valle’s, and Jesús Alemañy’s band Cubanismo; he also recorded  in “Chamalongo,” and “Cuban Odyssey”  with  Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett, and played on the title track of Bebo Valdés and Diego el Cigala’s popular 2003 album “Lágrimas Negras.”

My comment


Tata Güines also appears in most of the albums led by pianist ERNAN LOPEZ-NUSSA and his BAND HAVANA REPORT.

Also in the album AMOR y PIANO Tribute to Frank Emilio Flynn in 2005.

TATA is featured in ERNAN  LOPEZ-NUSSA’S  Jazz Septet  with DINGA DONGO DUNGA inspired by Mr. Flynn’s GANDINGA, MONDONGO y SANDUNGA, and as a a composer  in another track of his hey day w LOS AMIGOS “PA’GOZA” led by pianist MIGUEL ANGEL de ARMAS “Pan con Salsa” and featuring violinist LAZARO DAGOBERTO GONZALEZ “El Gordo de la Orquesta Aragon” (Bis Music, 2005).

TATA  also recorded abundantly with pianist JOSE MARIA VIRTIER  y LA ORQUESTA NUMADIL and with Jose Maria’s brother, guitarist SERGIO VITIER  leader of Grupo Oru.

Also appears as a Special Guest in the album TRIBUTO A EMILIANO SALVADOR led by reedman JUAN MANUEL CERUTO w LA PUERTO PADRE BIG BAND  (Unicornio, 2000).

TATA is featured with Changuito Quintana and El Pichi in HILARIO DURAN’s album KILLER TUMBAO  (hilarioduran.com).

American percusionist and enthusiast supporter of Cuban Music AARON SINGER recorded an album PAST MEETS PRESENT  in HAVANA, w The Cuban Masters  ATribute to Tata Guines under his own label OBANIKE MUSIC (obanikemusic.com).

While pianist EMILIO MORALES, also a member of SINGER’s All Stars in SEVEN SEVEN SABOR,  wrote TATA GUINESS dedicated to the great Tumbadoras Master and is recorded in the album “Con Cierto Tumbao” (Colibri Productions).

Thanks to Carlos Mateu for the initial posting in NYC Rumba News  Facebook Wall

Toni Basanta

DJ Host of The Cuban Bridge on the radio and on television

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