Tag Archives: percussion

Artist Profiles: Alex Acuña

Alex Acuña at the 2015 Folklife Festival. Photo by Josh Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Born in Pativilca, Peru, 100 miles north of Lima, Alejandro Neciosup Acuña, better known as Alex Acuña was born into a musical family that inspired him and helped shape him as a musician. His father and five brothers were all musicians. Alex taught himself how to play the drums from the age of four. By the time Alex turned ten, he was already playing in local bands. As a teenager, he moved to Lima and became one of Peru’s most accomplished session drummers, performing on many recording projects for artists, as well as film and television productions. At 18, he joined the great Perez Prado’s big band. He later played with such diverse greats as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross, until he joined Weather Report in the ’70s.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 1978, he has recorded with countless artists, including Joni Mitchell, Whitney Houston and Chick Corea.

In 2000, Alex Acuña was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Traditional Tropical Latin” category for his album, “Alex Acuña y Su Acuarela de Tambores – Rhythms for a New Millenium.” His South American roots, long-time association with Caribbean genres, and his deep understanding of all genres of contemporary music have made him one of the most accomplished and well-rounded musicians on the scene today.

In 1989 she formed, Los Hijos del Sol, together with Eva Ayllón. The group represents an all-star cast of Peruvian musicians, reunited with the purpose of refreshing and promoting Peruvian music for the world. The musicians came together in 1989 to record a project that draws on traditional Peruvian genres – known popularly as “musica criolla” – developing them in a context of more sophisticated arrangements and unconventional instrumentation. The project lasted for several years, as Peruvian musicians from all corners of the world returned to Peru periodically to perform and record, and created tremendous impact on the music scene in Peru. The original recordings and the subsequent live performances of Los Hijos del Sol established a landmark in the history of Peruvian music.

In 2002, Acuña released Los Hijos del Sol’s debut CD, To My Country. It explores the entire spectrum of genres and sounds from Peru. The work includes traditional Peruvian rhythms such as festejos, valses, landos, huaynos, and even such popular styles as salsa and Latin jazz.


Straight Ahead (Pa’lante) ‎(Discovery Records, 1980)
Another Time, Another Place (Pausa Records, 1984)
Thinking Of You (Invitation, 1990)
The Juggler ‎(Swinging Banana Records, 1995)
Rumbero’s Poetry ‎(Elephant, 1999)
Acuarela De Tambores – Top Percussion (Rhythms For A New Millennium) (DCC Compact Classics, 2000)
Isla Negra ‎(Crecycle Music, 2000)
To My Country (Contemporary Peruvian Music) ‎(Nido, 2002)
Bongó De Van Gogh ‎(Tonga Productions, 2002)
No accent (Nido, 2005)
Brown Street (Intuition Records, 2006)
Jungle City ‎(Alessa Records, 2009)
¡Ritmo! ‎(Clavo Records, 2011)
Barxeta ‎(Losen Records, 2012)


Artist Profiles: Kim So Ra

Kim So Ra

Korean percussionist Kim So Ra has played the hourglass-shaped, two-headed drum known as janggu since she was a child. In high school she became a leading prize-winner at folk festivals and cultural competitions, going on to eventually to achieve her Master of Korean Music degree in 2012. Since then she has been taking groundbreaking steps to modernize perceptions within traditional Korean music.

Her 2013 visit to Chicago to collaborate with musicians of diverse backgrounds was fundamental. She named the project ‘The Modernization and Globalization of the Janggu’, returning the following year for the Janggu Rhythm Connection project.

In Korea, she formed the first all-female traditional arts performance group, Norikkot, as well as the electronic/ traditional fusion band, nuMori. In her performances, she explores new rhythmic concepts with traditional Korean instruments.

Kim was selected as the only Korean solo percussionist to perform at the official showcase of the World Music Expo, WOMEX 2018, and the 2018 Mundial Montreal World Music Summit.


Artist Profiles: Aseana Percussion Unit

Aseana Percussion Unit

This 8-member group of musicians based in Kuala Lumpur uses anything that can make a sound, be it garbage can covers or broomsticks, they will find a rhythm for it.

They were formed in 1998 by Edwin Nathaniel, Shahrin Hamid, Kirubakaran and Philip Robert, and expanded from there.

Rhythm is the easiest way of communication that transcends all barriers. Their regular shows at The Actors’ Studio Bangsar are always presenting new and unexpected ideas to wow the audience.

We just want to play” manager Paul Augustin says. Everything they do is based on rhythm though they sometimes dose it with some melodic instruments. They fuse and re-fuse so many different types of styles that it is hard to know what is coming, going, and when.

They grab anything they can that will serve their purpose and have no time for any kind of snobbery. Brazilian surdo, the Indian tabla and taviel, the Malay kompang and gendang, the Trinidad steel pan, the African jembe, Native American pow-wow drum and a hodgepodge of common household utensils. The group experiments with whatever they lay their hands on.


Colours of Rhythm (Penang-YTL Arts Festival, Dewan Sri Pinang 2002)


Artist Profiles: Souhail Kaspar

Souhail Kaspar

Master percussionist Souhail Kaspar is known for his brilliant technique, scintillating performances and impeccable teaching skills. His musical sensitivity and ability to improvise and embellish the basic rhythmic patterns familiar to Arabic Music, as well as his extensive knowledge of ethnic musical history have made him unique.

Mr. Kaspar was born in Lebanon, and trained at Nadi al-Fonun al-Arabia (conservatory of Arabic Traditional Music) in Aleppo, Syria, where he became proficient in both classical and ethnic rhythmic patterns and techniques and received a Degree in Classical Arabic Performance. In his career, he has traveled extensively throughout the world. His expertise has found him performing with Arabic superstars such as Feiruz, Faiza Ahmed, and working with legendary Egyptian composers such as Farid El Atrash, Sayyed Makowi and Hanni Mehanna, and playing in front of many celebrities and dignitaries as Pope John Paul II, as well as Ronald Reagan.

Additionally, he has an extensive body of recorded work, including credits on the soundtracks for the movies The Prince Of Egypt, The Siege, Sinbad and as a guest percussionist with the cutting edge Kronos Quartet.

Though his primary instrument is the Egyptian drum known as tablah [also spelled tabla]or dumbek, he is also proficient on tar (a large frame drum), large and small tambourines known as mashar and riqq, respectively, as well being an expert in various Persian and Turkish instruments. His skillful presentation and comprehensive teaching technique has led to him performing and conducting master seminars at prestigious institutions such as The Brooklyn Academy of Music, UCLA, as well as a yearly stint at Mendocino Middle Eastern Music Camp, an intensive week-long series of workshops held in Northern California. He often performs (and teaches ) with peers such as renowned oudist John Bilezikjian, multi-faceted musician Simone Shaheen, and prominent ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy, Professor of Ethnomusicology at UCLA.

As a teacher, Mr. Kaspar is gifted, passing on not only skills but academic knowledge of Middle Eastern music to his students, many of them Westerners not previously familiar with the complex patterns of Arabic music.

Currently, Souhail Kaspar lives in Los Angeles and is performing, recording, and teaching both nationally and internationally.


Mystical Legacies, with Ali Jihad Racy (Lyrichord, 1997)
Awzan – Arab Rhythmic Modes (Near East music, 2005)
When The Soul Is Settled: Music Of Iraq (Smithsonian Folkways, 2006)


Artist Profiles: Trilok Gurtu

Trilok Gurtu

A renowned master musician and composer, Trilok Gurtu has been at the forefront of innovative musical collaborations for the past years.

The son of one of India’s most beloved classical singers, Shobha Gurtu, Trilok first picked up the tabla at the age of six. He went on to invent a peerless style, blending contemporary rock and jazz forms with classical Indian techniques, and developing an unorthodox East-West drum kit, with Western drums arranged on the ground, Indian-style, alongside his tablas and percussion instruments.

A four-time winner of the Down Beat Critic’s poll in the Best Percussionist category, Gurtu’s technique is indisputable and his resume speaks for itself: he has performed with a host of the world’s greatest musicians. Don Cherry, Jan Garbarek, Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny, Bill Evans, Angelique Kidjo and Oumou Sangare have guested on his recordings.

Trilok has in turn appeared on albums by John McLaughlin, Pharoah sanders, Nitin Sawhney, Lalo Schifrin, Gilberto Gil and Bill Laswell, Gurtu’s music often finds its way onto the turntables of UK producer/DJs like Talvin Singh and Asian Dub Foundation.On last year’s African Fantasy album, his Blue Thumb debut, Gurtu developed an innovative marriage of African and Indian musical traditions.

On the Beat of Love, Gurtu widens and deepens the interplay between African and Indian Musical forms, achieving an even richer integration of the two by featuring more Indian vocalists and combining vocals from Indian and African artists. “We have the sense of both continents all the way through,” explains Badarou. “Some tracks have the Indian taking the lead and the African backing, some songs in reverse. I hope we achieved a synthesis of both.”

For his latest recording project, Indian-born Gurtu pairs with West African producer Wally Badarou. Gurtu and Badarou drew deep inspiration from Gurtu’s previous Blue Thumb release, African Fantasy, as they traveled to the capitals of Africa and India, gathering rhythms, street songs and musical friends, preparing to record the project.

They assembled the stories and sounds they found with the help of Grammy-winning engineer Matt Howe (Lauryn Hill) and Squeeze’s Chris Difford (who wrote the lyrics for “Ola Bombay” in addition to supervising part of the recording at his Helioscentric studio in East Sussex, England).

Trilok Gurtu

The result is a forward-thinking mix of trans-national world music styles. “We make bridges, not barriers. This is what the world requires…Technique is OK to prove your art, but it’s not everything. Only feelings will reach the people.”

In 2005, The Trilok Gurtu Collection came out. It assembled some of master percussionist Trilok Gurtu’s best tracks from the CMP catalog, where Trilok released albums over a span of 20 years, on this Silva Screen Treasury reissue (SIL-CD-3014 UPC 738572301422). The record came out June 6th, at a reduced price point. The Trilok Gurtu Collection features some of his most memorable collaborations, including the Gurtu/Zawinul Ballad for Two Musicians, and the tribute to his great friend Don Cherry “Cherry Town”. Also featured are saxophonist Jan Garbarek, percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, saxophonist Bill Evans, guitarists Pat Matheney, Ralph Towner and David Gilmore, Indian vocalist Shobha Gurtu, violinist L. Shankar, and his long-time friend, trumpet player Don Cherry.


La Terra (The Earth), with Aktuala (Bla Bla, 1974)
Tappeto Volante (Flying Carpet) with Aktuala (Bla Bla, 1976)
Apo Calypso, with Embryo (1977)
Friends, with Toto Blanke Electric Circus (1979)
Family, with Toto Blanke Electric Circus (1980)
Personal Note, Mark Nauseef with Joachim Kühn, Jan Akkerman, Detlev Beier (1982)
Finale, with Charly Antolini (1983)
Song for Everyone, with L. Shankar (1985)
Usfret (CMP, 1987)
Ecotopia, with Oregon (1987)
45th Parallel, with Oregon (1989)
Live at the Royal Festival Hall, with the John McLaughlin Trio (1990)
Living Magic (1990)
Always, Never and Forever, with Oregon (1991)
Que Alegria, with the John McLaughlin Trio (1992)
Crazy Saints (1993)
Believe (1995)
Bad Habits Die Hard (CMP, 1995)
The Glimpse (1997)
Kathak (1998)
Cor, with Maria João & Mário Laginha (1998)
African Fantasy (2000)
The Beat of Love (2001)
Remembrance (2002)
Miles Gurtu, with Robert Miles (2004)
Broken Rhythms (2004)
Farakala (2006)
Arkeology (2007)
Massical (2009)
Piano Car, with Stefano Ianne (2010)
21 Spices, with Simon Phillips & NDR Big Band (2011)
Spellbound (Sunnyside, 2013)


Artist Profiles: Sivamani


Sivamani, also known as the Prince of Percussion, plays dozens of instruments from drums and kanjira to cymbals, pots and pans ? all in one concert. His unique style combines traditional Indian drumming with Japanese, African, jazz and Latin rhythms.

Sivamani is one of India’s most popular and colorful percussionists known as much for his charisma and showmanship, as his talent.


Golden Krithis Colours (BMG Crescendo, 1994)
Pure Silk (2000)
Drums on Fire (New Earth Records, 2003)
Arima Nambi (2014)
Kanithan (2016)


Artist Profiles: Aja Addy

Aja Addy

Aja Addy was born 1948 in Accra, Ghana. He was an acclaimed Ghanaian master drummer and percussionist. Influenced by his work as a tigari priest, the nephew of Mustapha Tettey Addy combined the power of the Kpanlogo drum with the more relaxed highlife rhythms of Ghana. Aja toured extensively with Reinhard Flatischler’s MegaDrums ensemble.

My father was a drummer“, explained Aja Addy, “so I learned how to drum and to dance from him. He has taught me the songs we play in our concerts. They are from the villages in the Greater Accra region and you’ll hear them at any occasions, when a baby is born, at parties, weddings and funerals All my musicians are Ga, a people of fishermen, hunters, carpenters or masons like me. My family taught me how to work with cement. What kind of job you get depends on the region where you live. For example I lived near the river so I learned how to swim and fish, but when the river carried no water, we had to hunt, so I learned all this, but in different seasons. Once every year we go to Ghana to say hello to my family and to have the ceremonies. I also teach my students there.”

After two successful solo releases, Aja Addy recorded a live album titled Live Refreshment with his band Tsui Anaa (Patience). It was recorded in Bremen, Germany and covered traditional songs and rhythms of the Ga people in Ghana. They are played at ceremonies as well as parties and dance festivities.

Aja Addy died while on a tour in Japan in 2002.


Coreana, with MegaDrums (Intuition, 1987)
Transformation, with MegaDrums (Intuition, 1990)
Power And Patience (Weltwunder, 1992)
The Medicine Man (Weltwunder, 1993)
Live Refreshment (Weltwunder, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Mino Cinelu

Mino Cinelu

Born in Saint-Cloud, France, in 1957, Mino Cinelu played guitar when he was a child, calling it his “first love.” As a youth, he visited his father’s homeland of Martinique and absorbed the island’s chouval bwa music with its unique rhythms. He started playing drums as a teenager, forming his own funk-fusion band. He also picked up percussion and devoured his father’s Afro-Cuban records, which he says led to his interesting playing style.

He lived in England for a year, and eventually moved to the United States of America, where he quickly hooked up with Miles Davis and began his international career. He has since been in high demand from performers of all genres.

In addition to his solo recordings he appeared on numerous albums, including Gazeuse! (1976) with Gong; Imaginary Day (1997) with Pat Metheny Group; We Want Miles (1982), Star People (1983), Decoy (1984) and That’s What Happened: Live in Germany 1987 (DVD, 1987) with Miles Davis; and Sportin’ Life (1985) and This is This! (1986) with Weather Report.

Solo Discography:

World Trio (1995)
Mino Cinelu (2000)
Quest Journey (2002)
California (2006)


Artist Profiles: Chichí Peralta

Chichí Peralta

Chichí Peralta is a talented musician from the Dominican Republic He is a master percussionist and brilliant at fusing tropical rhythms. In his recordings, Peralta combines diverse rhythms and styles like jazz, merengue, guaguancó and even Dominican bachata and vallenato.

The tall Caribbean percussionist was born July 9 of 1966 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His birth name is Pedro René Peralta, but everybody calls him Chichí and he likes to emphasize that the last i should be accented because Chichi plainly written doesn’t sound very good in Spanish.

His musical career began at the age of 4, when he built his first instrument, a tambora. Peralta’s main professional work was as percussionist of the renowned group 4-40, led by Juan Luis Guerra. For eight years, Chichí Peralta performed in front of thousand of people throughout the world.

His first solo CD, Pa’ Otro La’o, was released in 1997. Peralta was in charge of most of the production work. Without a doubt Chichí Peralta has proven to be one of the musicians and producers with a better sense of musical globalization, and on his second solo recording, De Vuelta al Barrio, he was able to perfect sounds, maturing, finding himself, evolving and fusing ‘son’ with jazz, merengue with guaguancó, pop music with African rhythms, bachata with Brazilian rhythms, plena with salsa, vallenato, Arabic rhythms with those of Africa and India.

On De Vuelta al Barrio, Chichí Peralta didn’t waste any time nor effort, spending inexhaustible hours of arduous work doing research, compiling and composing. All this led to a recording with the London Symphony at Abbey Road Studios, in Paris with the choirs of Luz Africa Light, with the special participation of Henri Dikongue, in United States to mix and in his own studio, Sterling Audio, in the Dominican Republic. The main vocals are by Cesar Olarte and Rene Geraldino.

When asked the meaning of Vuelta al Barrio, Chichí indicated: “It is a re-encounter with our roots, making reference to our place, to the place that we left, to our barrio (neighborhood), and without wanting to seem too local, how would the barrio of the Dominican Republic be, or Colombia’s, or Puerto Rico’s, it is rather the barrio of the world. To me, there is only one barrio that is divided by several languages and music has the purpose of uniting it, of intertwining it. Who in their own history in the barrio has not fallen in love?. Who hasn’t seen disappointment? A humorous history or those beautiful memories? The return to the barrio for me is something very emotional, it is a nostalgia of mine, very personal. To me it has been one of the places where I’ve had the best time.”


Pa’ Otro La’o (Caiman Music, 1997)
De Vuelta al Barrio (Caiman Music, 2000)
Más Que Suficiente (Universal Music Latino, 2005)
De Aquel La’o del Río (789 Music, 2009)
De Que Viene, Viene (789 Music, 2012)


Artist Profiles: Orestes Vilató

Orestes Vilató

Orestes Vilató is a remarkable percussionist. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the history of the timbales. He was born May 4, 1944 in Camagüey, Cuba, and moved to New York as a young boy in the 1950s. He gradually refined his natural skills as a musician with a special gift for rhythm.

While living in New York, Orestes was intimately involved with many significant groups, including Belisario López Orchestra, José Fajardo Orchestra, Ray Barretto Orchestra (8 years), Fania All Stars (founding member), Típica 73 (founding member), Los Kimbos (founder-director), Johnny Pacheco, and Cheo Feliciano.

He has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Wynton and Bradford Marsalis, Paco de Lucía, Lionel Hampton, Linda Ronstadt, Israel López, and Cachao. For 9 years (1980-89) Orestes worked with the Carlos Santana band as timbalero and percussionist, participating in several world tours and recording many albums.

Orestes released “Ritmo y Candela” with Patato and Changuito.

Orestes has recorded several movie sound tracks as well including: “Our Latin Thing” (Fania All-Stars), “The Bird Cage,” “Mambo Kings,””Carlito’s Way,””Steal Big, Steal Little,” and “Scalper.”


Hoy y Mañana (Cotique, 1978)
Aguacero No Me Moja (Cotique, 1979)
Ritmo y Candela (Tonga, 1995)
It’s About Time (Rafca Records, 2009)