12 Ese Senor.mp3


Los munequitos de Matanzas

October 9, 1952 in the barrio of La Marina, city of Matanzas CUBA, a group of young rumberos stopped off at their local tavern El Gallo after work. While unwinding over drinks, a song by Arsenio Rodríguez came on the bar’s record player. The drummers began accompanying the song by playing on the counter, on glasses and bottles, using whatever items were at hand. Their performance so impressed the other customers, as well as passers-by, that the men received applause when the song and their accompaniment concluded. It was at that moment when one of the men suggested they form a rumba group to perform at local venues. It was agreed and the rumberos walked over to the house of singer and composer Florencio Calle “Catalino” to enlist his help. After hearing the men’s proposition Catalino told them to return the next day to discuss the matter.

At the meeting the following day, Group Guaguancó Matancero was formed. The men agreed that the group would perform rumba and each member would be responsible for bringing his own respective instrument. The original members of Guaguancó Matancero were Florencio Calle “Catalino” (director, guagua), Esteban Lantri “Saldiguera” (vocalist), Juan Bosco (vocalist, claves), Hortensio Alfonso “Virulilla” (vocalist, maraca), Gregorio Diaz “Goyo” (tumba or salidor), Pablo Mesa “Papi” (Segundo or tres dos) and Angel Pellado “Pelladito” (quinto). Later that year the great batalero (‘batá

drummer’) and Quintero (‘quinto drummer’) Esteban Vega “Cha-cha” joined the group.

Although the members were all genuine “street” rumberos, they began performing on stage from the group’s inception. Saldiguera and Virulilla who had sung in son septetos (‘septets’) brought that genre’s style of harmony singing to the group. The percussion was of a very high quality, with the drums carrying on “conversations” of unprecedented inventiveness and virtuosity. The drums were tuned much lower back then, sounding like funky bass lines, with the rhythmically elusive singing “floating” on top. Initially, the group only performed guaguancó, but in ensuing years they interpreted yambú, Columbia and abakuá as well.

Guaguancó Matancero began playing in the barrios of Simpson and La Marina, but soon they performed throughout the province of Matanzas. In 1953 they were invited to play at various venues in the capital city, Havana. The group also performed live on radio and television and recorded their first 78 rpm phonorecord for the Puchito label (n. 298). The two songs were “Los beodos” (‘The Drunks’) on Side A, and “Los muñequitos” (‘The Newspaper Comic Strip Characters’) on the B side. “Los muñequitos” became such a big hit that wherever the group played, the people would call out “¡Los muñequitos! ¡Los muñequitos!” The popularity of the song eventually led them to change the name of the group to Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.

In 1958 Panart Records released two phonorecords Guaguancó v. 1 and v. 2; compiling several 78 sides made earlier by the group as well as songs recorded by the Havana rumba group Papín y sus Rumberos In 1964 Cha-cha left and vocalist Frank Osamendi joined. Los Muñequitos disbanded in the early 1960s, but re-formed by the end of the decade. By the 1980s Los Muñequitos were widely known by rumba aficionados in and outside of Cuba. Los Muñequitos Quintero Jesus Alfonso’s guaguancó “Congo yambumba” (1984) was recorded by Eddie Palmieri (1987), and Group Vocal Sampling (1992). In 1992 the American record company Qbadisc began releasing Los Muñequitos CDs (QB 9005) in the U.S. and the group toured the United States for the first time. See it was during this time that the group branched out and performed folkloric music and dance besides rumba, such as Lucumí (batá and guiro), Palo, abakuá, bricamo, and conga de comparsa. The music of Los Muñequitos directly reflects the syncretism that exists in Cuba as sacred songs to the orishas often coexist with more secular themes and adaptations of Spanish songs in a single record or performance. In the late summer of 1994 Los Muñequitos joined the Cuban super band Irakere on stage at the Banff Centre for the Arts to perform “Xiomara.” Los Muñequitos earned a Grammy Award Nomination in 2001.