Abakuá: continuation of the response to the statement by
Iyamba, 5/4/07, by Roman Díaz
Abakuá: la respuesta a esta frase de Iyamba continua, 4/5/07, de Roman Díaz
Roman Díaz at Ekpe Festival in
Román Díaz Curriculum Vitae
Photo Gallery for Roman Díaz
Omi Odara performs at DePaul
Roman Díaz y Omi Odara
Roman Díaz is a master percussionist from Havana, where he was trained by elders in the
fine arts of classic Afro-Cuban musical traditions. In the USA, he
organized a performance ensemble called "Omi Odara," a Lukumi
phrase meaning "pure water," or "water that
blesses," because "there is nothing more pure than water."
They perform ritual Santeria, Abakua, and Palo Monte music, as well as
continue the rumba and Son lineages of Arsenio Rodriguez, Chano Pozo, and
Ignacio Pineiro's Septeto Nacional, all of whom drew upon Cuba's African
heritage in their music. Contrary to the typical use of these traditions as
"spice" for "world music", Diaz's ensemble is distinguished for
respecting these traditions through artful and
passionate performances based on deep ritual knowledge. They entertain while
In the summer of 2001, Diaz and other Cuban Abakua met Efik Ekpe member Asuquo Ukpong
at the Esquina Habanera in New Jersey;
soon afterwards they performed at the Efik National Association
meeting in New York, where they introduced the assembled Efiks to their
cousins in Cuba.
La Rumba del dia 14 de Octubre se traslado para el
Domingo 15 de Octubre a las 5:00 pm y se mantiene la Rumba del dia 28 de
Octubre , 2006 a las 7:00 pm.
Vuelve la Rumba al Barrio en el "CREOLE " Music and Club
*Grupo folklorico "Orikí Omi Oddará"
( y sus Invitados )
*October : 15, 21, 28 -
ESTREO EN CREOLE !!!
*Noviembre : 4 & 18 ( Saturday )
*December : 2 Celebración de Changó
( Santa Barbara ).
*December : 16 Celebración de San Lázaro
( Babalú Ayé ).
*Pagán Productor Artístico General : 917.922.5989
2002 - April 19, Amherst College.
“New Evidence for the African Diaspora in the Cuban Abakua Society”
A lecture / performance by Dr. Ivor Miller, Copeland Fellow at Amherst
College, accompanied by Omí Odara, a five member performance troupe directed by Roman Díaz, former member of the Cuban rumba group
Yoruba Andabo, who was selected as a Latin Percussion representative in 2002. Mr. Díaz is a high level member of the Abakua society, and a
distinguished member of the sacred bata drum guild, Añá. Omí Odara performed Ireme masquerade dances and related chants, originating in
Calabar, Nigeria and recreated in 19th century Cuba, where they are integral to ceremony of the Abakua society.
2003 - April Lecture/Demonstration at DePaul University
Rare Afro-Cuban music highlights DePaul conference, 2003
| Joseph Derr
Three Afro-Cuban percussionists pounded rhythms on hand drums,
singing in African languages as the dancer, through gestures and
movements, told ancient stories of secret societies, Yoruba kings,
and Kongo spirits.
This isn't a report from Havana; it happened in a DePaul
University conference room right here in Chicago.
"Recreating Africa in the Americas Through Rhythms and
Rituals" was not a typical conference. Combining performance
and scholarly research, the two-day event, sponsored by DePaul
University's Center for Black Diaspora earlier this spring,
investigated the rich African cultural heritage that miraculously
survived four centuries of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Scholars from around the world presented research on the
African-derived music, dance, religions, and languages of countries
including Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and Brazil. But the highlight was
undoubtedly between the presentations, when Omi Odara, a New
York-based troupe specializing in Afro-Cuban music and dance, gave
attendees a rare look at some of the musical expressions that are at
the root of much of today's Afro-Caribbean and Latin jazz music.
Led by master drummer Román Diaz, the group began with ritual a
cappella singing that recounted the myths of Abakuá, a secret male
society in Cuba that originates from Nigeria's Cross River region.
Later, Omi Odara played complex, interlocking rhythms on four sacred
drums during the masquerade procession of the ireme dancer, a
spectacle rarely seen outside Cuba or Nigeria.
The music of Santeria, the Afro-Cuban religion rooted in the
Yoruba culture, opened the second day. Dancer Félix
"Pupi" Insua performed as several of the orichas (deities
representing forces of nature) including Elegua, the Trickster. As
he feverishly danced around the conference room to the intense
call-and-response singing and drumming of the group, Elegua urged
attendees to get up and move, and in seconds virtually the entire
room was grooving with the Guardian of the Crossroads.
The powerful music of the Kongo-Cuban religion Palo Monte
concluded the unforgettable performance of Omi Odara. Insua greeted
and danced with audience members as he called out to the ancestral
spirits in a mixture of the Kikongo and Spanish languages.
The free event, organized to celebrate the inaugural year of the
African and Black Diaspora Studies Program, was the first of its
kind at DePaul. Attendees included leaders from the various African,
Caribbean, and American communities represented in the program, said
Dr. Ivor Miller, the DePaul professor who organized the event.
"Too often academic discussions of the African ethnic
Diasporas in the Americas are abstract and based on published
sources—much of it created by European observers complicit in the
dynamics of the Transatlantic Slave Trade," Miller said.
"By actually seeing representatives of West African and Cuban
African-derived traditions perform their music, dance, and chants,
the issues at hand become much more accessible."
After the conference, Omi Odara members headed to Rhythm
nightclub for an impromptu rumba with conga drumming that surely
must have pleased Changó, the oricha of thunder who loves to dance.
Omi Odara performs the music of Palo Monte. Photo by Omar Torres.
2005 - April 15-16, World Music Institute, New York University
Noches Cubanas: Chico Alvarez, Gene Golden, Orlando
"Puntilla" Rios, Candido, Roman Diaz, "Pupi", & others.
Skirball Center @ NYU
566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South, NYC
The rich traditions of Afro-Cuban folklore were presented by leading Cuban artists living in
North America. These programs of
pulsating, soul-possessing and vibrant music and dance range from the
secular to the sacred, including the fiery rumba as well as powerful
chants, trance-inducing rhythms and dances associated with the
Yoruba-based religious practices of lucumi. The concerts, under the
direction of Chico Alvarez, featured Orlando "Puntilla"
Rios, Gene Golden, Candido, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros,
Victor "Chino" Trias, Xiomara Rodriguez, Roman
Diaz, "Pupi", Oriente Lopez, and
To hire the group for your concert stage, workshop, club, or
fiesta, call 973 645-0926. It is helpful to speak Spanish on this line; if not,
be patient, and speak slowly.
Roman Diaz with Latin Percussion Ensemble, 2002
See also our Abakua page.
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