Havana NightsBy Jordan Liffengren
Published April 6, 2010
Last month, the drum enthusiasts of KOSA traveled to Havana, Cuba to hold their annual workshop and drum festival. Sponsored by Sabian, LP and Evans, the week-long event was jam-packed with workshop classes, private lessons and concert events, giving KOSA Cuba participants an exciting and educational experience.
The week kicked off with a Salon Conference and Introduction to Cuban music by the renowned ethnomusicologist Dr. Olavo Alen, who gave participants an overall view of Cuban music and its various genres. Conga/tumbadora classes were conducted by top artists Tomas Ramos (El Panga), Julio Lopez from Klimax, and Yaroldi from the group Irakere. Jean Roberto from Klimax taught timbale classes and shared his modern “timba” approach to playing timbale. The legendary Amadito Valdes of Buena Vista Social Club fame gave his philosophy on soloing and showed everyone the classic way of playing danzon on the timbales. He also demonstrated his “abacino” roll and his own unique bell patterns for guajira, son, and mamba styles. Drum set classes featured El Peje, Oliver Valdes, and Remses each exemplifying their own unique and creative approach to Cuban rhythms on the drum set. Some of the drum set adaptations were abakua, pilon, Mozambique, and Latin Jazz. Assisting with translation and “hands on” instruction were Aldo Mazza, Memo Acevedo and Victor Rendon. A major highlight of the classes was watching Oliver Valdes, Amadito Valdes, Abreu from Los Papines, and Enrique Pla performing an impromptu jam session – descarga for 20 minutes.
KOSA participants were given the opportunity to see live performing groups throughout the week such as: Anacoana, Klimax, Yoruba Andabo, Los Papines, Los Munequitos de Matanzas, Pupy y los que Son, Orquesta Maracay Otra Vision and many more. Invited guests to some of these performances included Mazza and Memo Acevedo. The week was a tremendous success and exhilarating experience for everyone involved.