Patato y Totico / Totico / Patato Valdez

Patato & Totico

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The landmark recording Patato & Totico belongs neither entirely to rhumberos nor to jazzers. The musical style will feel very familiar to those familiar with Cuba's rhumba tradition, which springs from the ritual songs of Yorubans and their descendants who found themselves sold into servitude to Cuba's sugar and tobacco plantations. The ensemble consists of tumbadora, tres golpes, quinto, shekere, clave, and voice, just as it would have a hundred years before in Havana basements or Matanzas slave quarters. The musicians, however, are no strangers to Manhattan jazz clubs, and that sensibility shines through. From the bass master Israel "Cachao" Lopez, who was a budding talent at the time, to the legendary Arsenio Rodriguez on tres, to Patato, who went on to become one of the most influential voices on his instrument, this band of rhumberos was a force in the jazz world as well. This sensibility shines through in their renditions of "Mas Que Nada" and "Ya Yo E." The fidelity is not the best, and future Patato recordings like Authority shine through as stronger on the whole. However, as one of the first New York contributions to the rhumba world, Patato & Totico is a very pleasing, rich piece of history.

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