The first Cuban music video clip

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The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Thomas Altmann » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:21 pm

Hi everybody,

I just discovered this gem, uploaded by Rosa Marquetti:



The clip is from 1932. Fernando Collazo founded the Sexteto/Septeto Cuba in 1930, according to Helio Orovio, and his bongo player was the great Marino González a.k.a. "El Principe". I suppose that he is most likely the bongocero in this video. El Principe Marino was much admired by Mongo Santamaría and Armando Peraza, for example. He also played with the Conjunto Bolero and the Septeto Nacional. It's already hard to find or identify him on audio, also because back then, record companies habitually denied the backing musicians their credits. Here he is on video. You can also see how he tunes his drums over a lamp.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby KING CONGA » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:03 pm

This is excellent! Thank you.
Bongos are very likely to have been made by Mr. Candido Requena.
It's always interesting to see how these are tuned, tuning hardware was without a doubt a God sent, I do however, prefer the Bongo del Monte for Changui.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Chtimulato » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:07 pm

Nice find, Thomas.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Juaort » Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:53 pm

Thanks for sharing Thomas!
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Thomas Altmann » Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:59 pm

Hi,

I found out that Marino can be heard on this record:
https://www.discogs.com/de/Septeto-Naci ... se/6483946 .
He is actually mentioned in the cover text by Odilio Urfé.

Marino played with the Nacional from 1959 to 1971. Presumably he is also on this record from 1965:
https://www.discogs.com/de/Septeto-Naci ... e/10490194 .

The singers on both records are Embale, Bienvenido León and Núñez. They belong to the people who defined the style; it can't get any better. The first record from 1962 is great, and it has Piñeiro's most important numbers on it. It's a must-have. There is a Japanese reissue on the market; but I don't (want to) know how much it costs. Still, you could look for a download opportunity.

On the second record from 1965, Herrera, the trumpet player, was in his 60s, but to my ears he sounds older. Age can be an assh... to trumpeters. He actually played until his 90s, as far as I'm informed. At least he lived that long.
Marino, if we suppose it's him, is very well recorded on the second record, but often not to his favor. It sounds like he didn't wish to play as fast as the faster numbers on the record were, whatever the reason was. Also, his sound articulation could have been more differentiated, at least for my personal taste ... But of course my personal taste is pretty irrelevant, given that Marino was one of the founding fathers of modern bongó style, who played with the leading traditional Cuban son band for no less than 12 years.

Today, with the option of overdubbing and digital editing, I doubt that anybody would leave the trumpet and bongó tracks on the record like that ...

Thomas

P.S.: On one of the tracks of the later record, I believe it was "Qué bonita es Cuba", the clave player switches the direction. I did not examine what the reason might have been. That was a rare incident in the history of this septeto for sure.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Siete Leguas » Sat Feb 27, 2021 10:55 pm

I discovered this other clip on Rosa Marquetti's channel of the American movie "Hell Harbor" from 1929, featuring the Sexteto Habanero. It's allegedly the first appearance of Cuban Son in a film, so those scenes were probably the first time that many people outside Cuba ever saw and heard a bongó.

The young bongosero is Andrés Sotolongo, son of the founding bongosero of the Sexteto Óscar Sotolongo. Although the band is credited as Sextetto (sic) Habanero, they are already seven musicians. Interestingly, there are two "bass" instruments: marimbula AND botija - and no guitar.

The image and sound quality is even worse than in the clip with Fernando Collazo, but well... it's over 90 years old! Enjoy!

Last edited by Siete Leguas on Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Siete Leguas » Sat Feb 27, 2021 10:58 pm

The trumpet player could very well be Félix Chapottín, who played with the Sexteto Habanero between 1928 and 1930, according to Wikipedia.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby jorge » Sun Feb 28, 2021 4:45 pm

Anyone know who the bongocero is on the 1950 recording of La Batidora by Septeto Nacional? My favorite bongo solo ever.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jCk7uEMQU4
Recently covered by Septeto Santiaguera as La Meneadera, big hit but not in the same league artistically.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Chtimulato » Sun Feb 28, 2021 8:34 pm

I typed "Septeto Nacional" and made a (very) quick research.

On this page https://www.montunocubano.com/Tumbao/biogroupes/nacional%20septeto.htm (in french sorry) which I read very quickly, I found either Ramón CASTRO or Marino "El Principe" GONZÁLEZ. But it could also be someone else.

BTW, Siete Leguas, nice video.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Siete Leguas » Sun Feb 28, 2021 9:07 pm

Nice solo! Couldn't it be Agustín Gutiérrez "Manana"? He played bongó with the Nacional in the 50s, as far as I know.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Siete Leguas » Sun Feb 28, 2021 9:10 pm

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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Siete Leguas » Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:39 pm

Agree with Jorge on Septeto Santiaguero's version. Embale's voice is from another planet!

I've been enjoying practicing tumbadoras to this record by Septeto Santiaguero recently, though. Nice old and new tunes with many different rhythms: son, bolero, danzón, guaracha, changüí, guarapachangueo... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpgC2j6ejyg

Way off-topic though!
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Thomas Altmann » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:49 am

Hi Siete Leguas,

thanks for posting. What is interesting about the bongocero's style, is that he is lifting his left hand (and thumb) too quickly, so that the right hand strokes remain open. This may well be the reason why he and some other early bongo players don't have the high pitched "click sound" in the martillo. It is actually what I try to correct in my pupils as "wrong"; the left thumb should be resting on the macho head when the right hand strikes the drum.

I believe that back in those times, hand drum techniques were less standardized than today. Obviously, the great drummers from that era were not great because of accurate technique, but for other reasons. There wasn't such a thing as an "accurate technique", because that was yet to evolve. The martillo was defined by the movement, or the order of strokes, rather than he sound pattern.

Thomas
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Siete Leguas » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:04 pm

Hi Thomas, interesting remark! I read or heard somewhere that the martillo was originally developed (I think by "Manana", precisely) as a way to accompany boleros in a Son ensemble (might have been the Nacional), and the same pattern then began to be played at faster tempos for sones as well. Before that, the bongó in Son used to be played more freely. I don't know how true that is, but if so, it might have been only a few years prior to those clips that the pattern was introduced. So it makes sense that it wasn't standardised yet. I like the groove of that martillo anyway, and I think those repiques would be totally legit by today's standards.

I have noticed that the bongoseros in both clips play the macho on the right and the hembra on the left. I wonder if it's just a coincidence and both of them were lefties, or perhaps it was the common way to play back then, as it is traditionally in changüí, still to these days. Another similarity with changüí is the use of glissando notes (around 4:30 in the "Hell Harbor" clip). Pretty cool effect! It is often used on the bongó de monte.
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Re: The first Cuban music video clip

Postby Thomas Altmann » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:15 am

Hi Siete Leguas,

there is a video on YouTube called Origins of Son Cubano Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro by "Tres Cubano" that tells the story:


The video confirms what you learned about the evolution of bongo playing.

Listening to Manana's story, I get the impression that in the 1920's, the Oriente was still the place to go for studying bongo.

The pre-martillo ad lib style in Havana was certainly influenced by the Changüí or similar Eastern styles of playing, which easily merged with the quinto concept in Havana; that's my hypothesis. Early recordings of the Sexteto Boloña and the Sexteto Habanero from the 1920's with José Manuel Incharte "El Chino", the Sotolongos and also with Manana are fine examples of this style.

The glissando effect goes even further back to Haitian drumming. The connection is obvious. John Santos adverted us to that. You can hear Ti-Roro using it. Oh, and of course Bill Summers did it on the conga with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters in "Butterfly" :wink:

Funny - I didn't even realize that the bongoceros in the clips were holding the drums the other way around ...

Thomas
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