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Chaintrosml.jpg (8308 bytes)
Chachá with a bembe he made

Chachá's photo gallery

Tour Plan


Other appearances by members

Previous tours:

Afrocuba's Dos Alas Tour: Fall 1998

1996 Afrocuba US Tour

Chachá initiates musicians into Aña


Matanzas All Stars
~ AfroCuban Traditions ~

Esteban "Chachá" Vega Bacallao - Los Tambores de Chachá - Omo Ochun, Omo Aña.
Daniel Elias Alfonso Herrera, percussion - Los Tambores de Chachá
Ramon "Sandy" Garcia Perez, percussion - Afrocuba de Matanzas
Pedro "Pello" Tapanez, percussion - Afrocuba de Matanzas - Omo Oggun, Tata Nganga, Oriate

Lilian Oviedo, dancer, choreographer, formerly of Afrocuba - Omo Yemaya
Danilito Pérez, dancer, choreographer, formerly of Afrocuba - Omo Elegba, Tata Nganga
Teresita Dome Pérez, dancer, formerly of Afrocuba
Luis Cancino Morales, dancer, singer, percussionist - Afrocuba de Matanzas and Los Tambores de Chachá - Omo Yemaya

Dolores Pérez, singer - Afrocuba de Matanzas - Omo Yemaya
                                 -   Listen to: Caridad (BataRumba)

Juan Garcia - Asesor de Folklore, Conjunto Folklorico Nacional, and ethnologist

Michael Spiro, noted percussionist and educator on faculty at UC Berkeley,  accompanies US tours as Director.

This group is unusual not only for the musical and dance talent, but also for the cultural knowledge that members carry with them and the drive they have to preserve and teach the African traditions of Cuba. All have wide ranging religious and cultural roles in addition to their musical ones.  The Yoruba term Omo followed by an orisha name means a son or daughter of that orisha, one who serves as godfather or godmother to others in the Yoruba culture.  Tata Nganga is a Bantu term meaning community and religious leader, the Nganga being the sacred vessel.

Performances feature traditional material from the Yoruba, Congo, Abakwa, and Arara (Dahomey) traditions as they are practiced today in Cuba. Lecture/demonstrations and workshops focus on the percussion, dance, and songs of these traditions. Juan Garcia's ethnographic lectures cover a number of topics noted below.

Chachá is a legendary figure in Cuban percussion. He is a founding member of los Muñequitos ( he joined just 6 months after they were formed in 1954 and had a major impact on their music). He was already playing in the late 30's and the 40's when he was responsible for a tremendous development of the rhythmic range of the quinto, the lead conga in the rumba rhythm. The quinto was just then being established as an instrument while the rumba moved from the cajones, the boxes it was first played on, to the congas. Today Chachá continues to play actively with los Tambores de Chachá at many major Yoruba ceremonial events in Matanzas. And he strives to impart his rare knowledge of the Tradition to others, as in the case of the Olokun drums.

Juan Garcia has been with the Conjunto Foklorico since its founding and has in-depth knowledge of the history of this culture and music. He is Obá, or head of a Yoruba social unit, to many in Matanzas, where, as master choreographer, he has given a dramatic flair to the dances of both Afrocuba de Matanzas and los Muñequitos,  based on his deep knowledge of the culture. He has been for many years with the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional, where he is Asesor Folklorico, and advises on what is authentically traditional.  His presentations on the cultural context and history of the music and dance as well as Chachá's legendary reputation make this tour something really special for those who have a deep interest, either scholarly or practical. 

But it doesn't stop there: the others are all master percussionists. Pello founded and directed Afrocaribeño and Lukumi Oba, two fokloric groups in Matanzas.  He is a founding member of Afrocuba de Matanzas, where he was responsible for the invention of the batarumba rhythms, rumba played on batá. Daniel Alfonso is a master teacher who is currently training the coming generation, including leading US percussionists such as Michael Spiro and Marc Lamson. Sandy has been compared in knowledge and inventiveness to the young Chachá and has his own group, Yumurinos de Matanzas, which has a CD out under the Magic Music label.  He has toured with Steve Coleman and given numerous workshops.  He is a featured artist in the current issue of Rhythm Music Monthly.

Two dancers are of a caliber to match: Danilito Perez, an Omo Elegba and Tata Nganga, formerly of Afrocuba de Matanzas, has directed groups (Afrocaribeño, Obabi Laye) and choreographed numerous shows.  Lilian Oviedo, an Omo Yemaya, and Teresita Perez, are also both formerly of Afrocuba de Matanzas, and have both given many workshops in the US where they proved to be popular teachers.  Pello, as Omo Oggun, Oriate (Head of a House), and Tata Nganga, and Danilito, as Omo Elegba and Tata Nganga, are especially dedicated to the development of African traditions in Cuba.  Pello is the author of an instructional booklet with percussion sheet music, which we recommend as material for the workshops the group will give.

Michael Spiro is an internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator, known specifically for his work in the Latin music field.  He has performed on hundreds of records, co-produced several instructional videos for Warner Bros. Publications (featuring such renowned artists as David Garibaldi, Changuito, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Ignacio Berroa), and produced seminal recordings in the Latin music genre, including Orquesta Batachanga, Grupo Bata-Ketu, and Grupo Ilu-Aña.  Michael Spiro's web site is at  

All members of this group have repeatedly toured internationally and are experience in giving workshops as well as doing performances. Since many have track records with Afrocuba, see their tours for details on the venues where they have had this experience: 1996 US Tour info and Dos Alas Tour: Fall 1998.  Afrocuba has had many tours prior to these, from Finland to Mexico.

Possible themes for Juan Garcia's presentations:

- Choreographic treatment of folkloric and traditional dances conserved and created in Cuba

- Relationship of dance, song, and percussion in Cuba's folklore

- Religious themes and their participation in spectacle

- "Descomposicion religiosa" (the disintegration of religion) and it relationship to spectacle

Although Cuba today is experiencing a tremendous revival of traditional African religions, there has  been serious difficulties in the transmission of knowledge from the elders to the new generation.

- Values in Cuban traditions and their influence on artistic creation

- Influence of African rhythms in popular music and dance

Interested parties should contact


"Matanzas All-Star" Tour Plan


12 members
Esteban "Chachá" Vega Bacallao, percussion Juan Garcia, ethnologist, choreographer
Daniel Elias Alfonso Herrera, percussion Lilian Oviedo, dancer
Ramon "Sandy" Garcia Perez, percussion Danilito Pérez, dancer
Pedro "Pello" Tapanez, percussion Teresita Dome Pérez, dancer
Michael Spiro, Tour Director Luis Cancino Morales, dancer
Technical Director Dolores Pérez, singer


2 singles, 5 doubles

Hotel location: not isolated, if possible. Can be put up in dorms.

Special food needs

Cubans do not like spicy foods. Cuban food is much appreciated!


Each venue is responsible for local ground transportation. For venue to venue, over 7 hours by ground will be plane, on the ground by bus.

Workshops in Dance, Song, Percussion

  • dance floor for master dance classes
  • all percussion students must bring their own drums (conga, batá if desired)


The tour's staff is able to do the translation for the workshops. For Juan Garcia's lectures, we request that each venue provide a translator.


9 member troup performing: 4 percussionists, 4 dancers, 1 singer

Sound equipment needed on site: a 24 channel mixer, 16 microphones, 5 monitors


While the group does not have its own CDs, many of its members can be heard on Afrocuba de Matanza's CDs.   Check out Raices Africans on for on-line listening and hear Dolores Perez singing to Pello, Sandy, and Luisito's percussion, especially in the first song, Caridad..

Raices Africanas (African Roots)
Grupo Afrocuba de Matanzas

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List Price: $16.97
Our Price: $12.99
Audio CD (August 18, 1998)

Click on the songs below to listen.           Click for pricing & to order ==> Put cursor on image or click for pricing & to order via      
1. Caridad (BataRumba)
2. Ogun (Iyesa)
3. Oshun (Guiro)
4. Chango (Bata)
5. Ananu (Arara)
6. Elegua (Bembe)
7. Palo (Bantu)


8. Pa' Los Mayores
9. Enigue Nigue
10. Aguado Koloya
11. Brikamo
12. Abakua
13. Baila Mi Guaguanco
QB 9013 / CD only

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List Price: $16.97
Our Price: $12.99

A real discovery! Recorded in 1970, this album features 5 tracks by Los Muñequitos with legendary singer Saldiguera, and 4 tracks by the group Folklore Matancero, which later became known as Afrocuba.  The Muñequitos tracks were released as 45s in Cuba, but these recordings have never before been released as an album. 

Click for pricing & to order  ==>  

Contains: Los Muñequitos: Maria La Nieve /   Que Vendes Tu? / Tierra De Hatuey / Oyelos
De Nuevo / La Chismosa Del Solar
Folklore Matancero: Arturo / La Calabaza / Cabiocile /

Other appearances by members

Puerto Rico in April '99 Afrocuba de Matanzas visit with los Hermanos Cepedas
Washington, DC, Apr/May '99 Dolores Perez and Ramon "Sandy" Garcia Perez appear with AfroCuban painter and performance artist Mendive at the Kennedy Center
Ongoing visits to Chachá for intiations into the Yoruba Aña fraternity and percussion workshops in Matanzas.  Described in the article "We’ve Linked the African Chain"

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