John Santos Lecture - African Spiritual Practices and Retentions in Latin Music

    Last year I had the opportunity to attend the incredible lecture series by John Santos called La Rumba No Es Como Ayer, a wonderful 7 part lecture series on rumba; history, styles, instrumentation, influences, etc, etc.

    Well it seems this year Mr. Santos will be continuing his participation with SFJazz by offering another interesting 6 part lecture series August 4-September 8 called African Spiritual Practices and Retentions in Latin Music. I found John's lectures to be very high quality, entertaining and educational . An added bonus is he permits audio recording for future reference. I'm certainly planning on attending this upcoming lecture series. If you happen to live in the area, or are going to be visiting, why not take in a lecture if time permits. It is bound to be fascinating. Highly recommended.

SFJAZZ, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and The Museum of the African Diaspora present a unique and distinct series presented by Bay Area lecturer, band-leader, percussionist and educator, John Santos.

Music is the richest source of African culture in the Americas. And musical practices throughout Latin America have preserved a wealth of African spiritual content. This six-part series will reveal several elements of African spiritual origin that form the basis of popular Latin music and Latin jazz, including instrumentation, rhythm, melody, lyrics, mythology, oral history and language. During the series, participants will listen to and analyze a broad cross-section of recorded examples from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Republica Dominicana/Haiti, the United States and Brazil that span the last century.


6/20/10 Sunday Streets Rumba on Valencia Street in the Mission, San Francisco

   San Francisco has been starting a tradition of closing different neighborhood streets to automobile traffic on the weekend, called Sunday Streets It really is a great event, with thousands of people coming out and enjoying themselves. Cyclists, pedestrians, roller bladers, etc fill the street. Local shops and restaurants pour out onto the sidewalk. Performers, bands and musicians perform in the street and on the corners.

   It just so happens that this weekend, Sunday June 20, the street our local rumba spot is on,  22nd and Valencia, will be closed. Last year we had a great rumba right out in the street. During the 4 or 5 hours I'm sure at least 10,000 people passed by, with a large circle forming around us when the dancers were doing their thing. Anyways, tomorrow we are going to continue the tradition and have the rumba in the street starting at 10:00 and ending around 3:00. I'm looking forward to it.

   Last year a reporter I know caught the event on video and there is actually a decent amount of footage of the rumba featured in it. Check it out!


Conga "Master' Class

    I recently acquired an account at percussionist Michael Spiro's instructional website "Conga Master Class" . This is a fantastic new resource of instructional videos for Afro-Cuban percussion instruments and rhythms. It is a large and extensive site, with frequent new updates. Video lessons include, Guaguanco, Columbia, Quinto for Rumba, Arara, Bembe, Abakua, etc, etc. Guest artists include Jesus Diaz and Karl Perrazzo 

    Anyways, I plan to explore the videos on offer there and write a review,  which might take a little while, so stay tuned. In the meantime you can check it out for yourself. Conga Master Class offers a few freebies, which can be viewed here:  


Now for some "Real" Instruments

   I recently sold my wonderful set of Isla Percussions bata drums to an acquaintance in England. This rumbero already had an early set of Isla Percussions congas so it seemed to make sense to sell them to him, especially as the canoe wood is no longer available. Now he has an incredible set of 6 matching Isla drums; congas and bata. What a lucky guy, huh?

  Not to worry bloggers, I have not given up the bata. I have made arrangements for a new set, and the apartment just is not large enough for six bata drums.

  Some of you bloggers may recognize a few of the other instruments in the photo. I've sold this fine English gentleman 3 of my shekeres for a full guiro set and also two of my early guaguas, which I am happy to see seem to have held up rather well. Certainly a fine collection of instruments, for a truly dedicated musician, if I say so myself.