clever clave
May 7, 2012 2:20 PM   Subscribe

“If anyone can move Afro-Cuban music into greater visibility, it’s [Pedrito] Martinez.”

Last August at the American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine, where people were treated as usual to a wide variety of music from around the world, the only group I went to see twice was the remarkable quartet led by the Cuban conga master Pedrito Martinez. This week, The New Yorker, published in a somewhat more sophisticated city than Bangor, caught up with the Pedrito phenomenon, calling him “a mainstream star… to many in the Cuban-American musical community.” [abstract]

Various Pedrito videos can be found on YouTube; three of them, filmed in the small NYC restaurant Guantanamera where the group plays regularly in the middle of the week, are exceptional. (I am a white guy from the suburbs, one of the least Afro or Cuban people in the whole country, but I can watch Que Palo over and over and over.) Thanks to the New Yorker article I also found this video of Pedrito, as a sideman with Yosvany Terry, showing his ability to solo.

The group’s other percussionist, Jhair Sala from Peru, who plays cowbell, congas, and timbales, probably would be the best drummer in just about every other band around.
posted by LeLiLo (8 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I saw them at Jazzfest over the weekend, and they were by far my favorite performance of the weekend. Araicne Trujillo is so talented that it just isn't fair.
posted by honeydew at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2012

Wow, great stuff. Gracias por la información, LeLiLo.

Here's a cool pic of Pedrito that I just stumbled across at LeLiLo's Flickr stream!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 PM on May 7, 2012

¡Ritmo hermoso!
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2012

Sounds excellent.

Also good for anyone interesting in Cuban music is the film about Cachao that was recently on PBS's American Masters show:

Cachao: Uno Más

And for anyone who wants to learn about the origins of how Conga and Mambo came to prominence in the U.S. in the 40s, 50s, 60s, as well as read an incredible work of fiction (it won the Pulitzer), that utterly brings the culture (the men's and women's elaborate outfits, the styles, the cars, the Mambo nightclubs, the sexy, sex, of it all) to life especially in NYC during that time, I can't recommend Oscar Hijuelos' Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, highly enough.

Just an incredible, incredible work of fiction with a gripping gorgeous storyline.
posted by Skygazer at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cannot stop looking at the silly dance moves the woman in the back is doing.
posted by azarbayejani at 4:33 PM on May 7, 2012

Oh man she was about to FIGHT the busboy who tried to take her drink away.
posted by azarbayejani at 4:36 PM on May 7, 2012

What with the story earlier about newly minted "Doctor" Shaquille O'Neal, I was really hoping this FPP was talking about this guy...
posted by hincandenza at 4:56 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some nice conga playing there!
posted by asok at 8:01 AM on May 11, 2012

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