Strangest looking bongo I have ever seen.

Cruising Ebay and Craigslist for bargains on instruments as I do, I frequently come across some truly unfortunate versions of these drums. There are of course the clumsier Mexican drums, some strangely evolved fiberglass ones and of course the truly awful modern budget versions with their strange shapes, anemic hardware and bulbous comfort rims.

But these bongos are truly the weirdest version I have come across.... of course now that I have said that something weirder is going to come along...


Mas Que Nada!

I've been completely in love with Brazilian music for a while now. It started with Bossa Nova and then Samba, Maracatu, Brazilian Jazz and even some Baile Funk. Mas Que Nada originally by Jorge Ben, and covered so famously by the Tamba Trio has been one of my favorites and is a standard from Brazil. Hearing the chorus sing the opening refrain always gets me going:
O, Ariá! Raió!
Obá! Obá! Obá!
O, Ariá! Raió!
Obá! Obá! Obá!...

I'm sure it is well known among my readers that a rumba version of Mas Que Nada exists. Famously performed by Virgilio Martí  on Patato and Totico's seminal album. Listening to Jorge Ben's soulful and simple singing of this song, I can understand how Marti may have been inspired to sing this song as a rumba.

I've been wanting to sing this song for years at a rumba. It's such a catchy tune and famous. The problem is the lyrics are in Portuguese, which is a beautiful language, but not really appropriate for rumba.  Virgilio twists things up and sings his version with some funky Spanish lyrics more appropriate for rumba. I've probably sat down 3 times to try and piece Martí's version together, but my Spanish vocabulary just is not that expansive. I really did not want to be singing some gibberish that I thought was Spanish at the next rumba you know? Sadly, Patato, Totico and Virgilio left the lyrics out of the liner notes.

Luckily, we have the great rumba song lyric website El Cancionero Rumbero so I consulted it's huge archive to get the lyrics. Surly all the songs to this famous album would be there. Aaah, no such luck.
I've had the good fortune to correspond with Barry Cox who runs that site and Vamos a Guarachar and La Rumba No Es Como Ayer , so I sent him a request for the lyrics which he so kindly provided me with.

I'm very happy to have these lyrics now, I've been kind of butchering the song with a strange mix of half remembered parroted Portuguese and Spanish lyrics during my private practice. Not pretty! I like this song as a Columbia. Anyways, Caranaval is this weekend here in San Francisco, so I'm going to try and get it down for our rumba performance there.

Okay, so here are the lyrics to Mas Que Nada:

Mas que nada

Compositor: Samba de Jorge Ben; Adapt. Virgilio Martí
Estilo: Guaguancó
Grabación: Patato y Totico

E bele bi bele bele be, etc.

Oh la di a, ay Dios
Opá, opá, opá

Mas que nada
sálgase de frente
que quiero pasar
esta samba está animada
lo que quiero es sambar

Esta samba
con ritmo de maracatu
es un algo nuevo y bello
tan bello como tu

Mas que nada
un samba como esta es pa' bailar
Você la va a querer
y você la va a gustar

Coro: Y você la va a gustar

and here is the incredible video of Virgilio singing the song.


Francisco Aguabella - IBAE

Sadly I have heard the news that Francisco Aguabella passed away today, Friday May 7, 2010

Francisco Aguabella was a personal favorite of mine. As a musician he could do it all. Afrocuban Folklore, Rumba, Bata, Jazz, Latin Jazz, Salsa, etc. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to see him perform. A look at my music library shows an extensive collection of his works.

Francisco Aguabella:
  • Agua de Cuba
  • Cantos a los Orishas
  • Cubacan
  • H2O
  • Hitting Hard
  • Ochimini
Francisco Aguabella y Su Grupo Orishas
  • Bembe y Afrocuban Music
Not to mention the several albums he  played on for Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente among others.

My favorite quote regarding Francisco comes from Dizzy Gillespie:
"Aguabella is the John Coltrane of the Conga Drums.” -- Dizzy Gillespie
 I was fortunate to see Aguabella play at Yoshi's on Filmore a couple of years back. An incredible show. The pictures in this post are from that show. I remember something Francisco said that night, which made me very happy
"Now I live in L.A., but San Francisco, is my city!"

We'll miss you terribly Francisco. Thanks for all the great music.