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Pello's Photos

Pello's bata sheet music for sale

Contacting Pello

Pedro Pablo "Pello" Tapanez Gonzalez

Pello is a master percussionist steeped in the African traditions of Matanzas as Oriate, Tata Nganga, and Omo Oggun.  He is a founder of Afrocuba de Matanzas and an inventor of the batarumba rhythm, rumba played on batá.  Currently once again in the group, he has formed and directed other groups in his career, such as AfroCaribeño, los Milagrosos, and Lukumi Oba. He is also the author of a nice set of sheet music for batá.

Born June 29, 1942, Pello is the son of Julia Gonzalez Villamil, of the famed Villamil family, and Felix Tapanez Montarbo.  His mother Julia is the daughter of Alfreda Villamil Cardenas, the daughter of Juan Cardenas, a musician from Oyo.

Pello started his percussion career at age 13 (1955) in Los Tambores de Chachá, the legendary quinto and batá player. At that time, he says, the masters were "muy recta" ("straight ahead and just"), with them you would "apprender de verdad", really learn and he had to work hard to learn, making many sacrifices.  His other masters were Carlos Alfonso, the dueño de los tambores de Chachá, and Miguel Asina, as well as Enrique Mesa, Orlando Aguirra, and Rafael Garcia.  Also in the 50's he played with Guaguanco no Poblano, a rumba group from Pueblo Nuevo.

In the 70's he was a founding member of Folklor Matancero, which later became Afrocuba de Matanzas.  Folklor Matancero grew out of a birthday party for him given at his solar in Pueblo Nuevo, the Solar del 97 - they were playing such good rumba that they decided to keep going.

Pello is well into the Matanzas traditions and is an ahijado, or godson, of Chachá.   He is also an oriate, or head of a house, in this case a Congo cabildo he founded, where he has over 100 godchildren of his own.  This cabildo is called Sarabanda Briyumba Congo and counts among its members Danilito Perez and Lilian Oviedo.  The Congo tradition it carries forward comes from the Congo side of the Villamil, who on one side of the family are Yoruba and on the other Congo.  Pello also counts in his spiritual heritage Felipe Carbo, a Matanzas babalawo who in the 50's would go to Brazil to learn from masters there and brought back books on the religion.  On the Yoruba side, Pello is an Omo Oggun. His name in ocha is Oggun Bi, which he received in 1976.  Oggun, the orisha of war and peace, metals and civilization, is the Villamil family orisha at the beginning - the musician babalawo from Oyo who founded the family in Cuba was also an Omo Oggun.  In Nov '98 in Boston, Pello was able to meet the Asipade ("Generalissimo") of Oggun from Oyo, Yorubaland, and conversed with him in Yoruba. They are seen together below.

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Pello's groups:

Afrocaribeño, Matanzas

Founded and directed by Pello in 92-93, then directed by Danilito Perez, this group specialized in folklor Oriental (Tumba Francesa), which Pello learned from Milian Galli, an ahijado of Chachá based in Santiago.   Pello's fellow pupils in this experience were Jesus Alfonso (Muñequitos) and Papi Mesa.  Afrocaribeño also did Congo, Arará, Abakwa, and Yoruba material. They performed Cuban popular music, such as rumba, son, chachacha, mambo, and danzon. These are all african derived music. Rumba, for example, has strong Abakwa influence.

Lukumi Oba, Matanzas

Also founded by Pello, this group specialized in Yoruba, Congo, Arará, and Abakwa material. Pello taught the women in the group batá for shows.

Los Milagrosos

Pello founded this group in '96.  They play in Varadero.

Contacting Pello

Phone: 53.52.92065

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