Tag Archives: percussion

Puerto Rican Percussionist and Batacumbele Founder Ángel “Cachete” Maldonado Dies at 68

Angel “Cachete” Maldonado

Ángel “Cachete” Maldonado, a renowned percussionist and co-founder of the celebrated Afro-Puerto Rican Batacumbele ensemble died on January 10, 2020. He was 68 years old.

Maldonado was born in Barrio Obrero, Santurce, and became a leading Afro-Caribbean percussionist.

He performed with some of the leading Latin jazz, salsa, jazz and Puerto Rican artists, including Carlos Patato Valdés, Pablo Rosario, Ernie Agosto, Larry Harlow, Eddie Palmieri, Louie Ramírez, Conjunto Libre, Típica 73, Machito, Dizzie Guillespie, Gato Barbieri, Freddie Hubbard, Weather Report and Jorge Dalto.

To learn more about Ángel “Cachete” Maldonado, read Les Moncada Chats With Legendary Latin Percussionist and Orchestra Leader Angel “Cachete” Maldonado.


A Marvelous Voyage through Acoustic Global Percussion and Electronics

Tom Teasley – All the World’s a Stage

Tom Teasley – All the World’s a Stage (T2 Music, 2012)

American percussionist and composer Tom Teasley plays an innovative mix of acoustic percussion instruments from various parts of the world along with electronic percussion devices and wind instruments.

The original tracks on All the World’s a Stage take the listener on a world music rhythmic voyage where various traditions are interweaved masterfully: West African, Afro-Cuban, Indian, Middle Eastern and Irish Celtic.

Tom Teasley plays in symphonic orchestras, jazz ensembles and also presents solo percussion performances throughout the world.  

Teasley studed global percussion with several maestros, including Glen Velez, Trichy Sankaran, Yacub Addy and Frank Malabe.

The instruments used on All the World’s a Stage include new creations as well as traditional instruments, including aquasonic, balafon, bodhran, cajon, didgi-harp, riqq, melodica, dumbek (darbuka), Korg wavedrum, Roland HandSonic, MalletKat, and bansuri whistle.

buy All the World’s a Stage


Artist Profiles: Adriano Adewale

Adriano Adewale

Brazilian percussionist and composer Adriano Adewale was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For many years he was known as Adriano Pinto, a colonial name he received at birth. After his visit to Africa (Nigeria and the Benin Republic), searching for his roots, he changed his name to Adriano Adewale Itauna, respectively from the Yoruba-Nigeria and Tupi Guarani-Brazil. Adewale means royal child who come back home and Itauna means black rock.

Music has always been part of Adriano’s life. His father, an aficionado percussionist, used to play drums during carnival, and drumming was also a big feature of family gatherings. Adriano’s maternal grandfather used to play clarinet, his uncle accordion and every weekend they would meet and play ‘Chorinho music’, a style also known as Brazilian Jazz.

Two uncles played a great influence on Adriano’s career; Claudio Silva, who was a virtuoso ‘pandeiro’ player, and Joao Nicanor, a singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor.

While working as an actor, Adriano took piano and percussion lessons, followed by a degree/BA in classical music-percussion at the University of Sao Paulo State. In April 2000, Adriano moved to the UK, quickly establishing himself as a respected percussionist, composer, educator and band leader.

In 2002, Adriano was introduced to Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione and soon became part of the Antonio Forcione Quartet.

 In 2004, Adriano went to Africa (Nigeria-Benin) in search for his roots and also to study music with great master percussion players. The trip deeply changed Adriano’s playing and understanding of his own culture in many aspects.

Upon his return, he went on to study further, this time a Masters course in Music/Performance at SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His first UK band, Sambura, released the album: Cru in 2006.

In 2008, Adriano released his first solo album, the critically acclaimed Sementes (Segue records) produced by Gilad Atmov. It featured the ‘Adriano Adewale Group’, an international line up of musicians, including Australian born double bass player Nathan Riki Thomson, Senegalese Kora player Kadially Kouyate and Brazilian flutist and saxophonist Marcelo Andrade.

In 2012, he released The Vortex Sessions, a collaboration with the leading Brazilian piano player Benjamin Taubkin. This was followed by Raizes (Caboclos Records) in 2014, his second solo album with the ‘Adriano Adewale Group’, produced by Chris Kimsin (Rolling Stones, Jimmy Cliff).

Adewale is also the mentor behind Catapluf’s Musical Journey, a concert that introduces young audiences to Jazz, commissioned by the EFG London Jazz Festival. With one CD released,  Catapluf’s Musical Journey has toured many parts of Europe including Norway, Sweden, France and Scotland.

Adriano’s characteristic sounds come from organic materials, connected to nature. They are made out of wood, clay, metal, skins and the philosophy behind it is the connection with the four classic elements: water, earth, air and fire. Playing percussion is about making music.

Over the years, Adriano has worked as a curator and artistic director. From 2009-2010 Adriano was an artist in residence at the Lakeside Theatre, Colchester. He also curated ‘Festival Brasileiro’, which involved theater, dance, music and fine arts from Brazil, and challenged presiding conceptions of Brazilian culture. As part of the festival, he arranged for and conducted the Essex Youth Jazz Ensembles.

As a composer, Adriano has been commissioned by Bath Music Festival to write a new music piece for the opening of 2011 and 2012’s Bath festivals. He was also a composer/music director of dance-theatre piece Ballroom of Joys and Sorrows, a collaboration with Kate Flatt (original choreographer of Les Miserables). He has composed for dance companies, including Phoenix dance company 2016, with whom he wrote the score for ‘Undivided lovers’, a dance piece based on and celebrating Shakespeare’s 400 anniversary.

Education is part of Adriano’s life. He is often writing new music to collaborate with primary school pupils both singing and playing instruments.

Adriano has performed with leading word musicians such as the great singer Bobby Macferrin, and pianist Joanna McGregor with whom he still works and play as duo, combining classical, jazz and contemporary classical music.

Adriano Adewale with AKA Trio at WOMEX – Photo by Quique Curbelo

In 2018, Adriano formed AKA Trio, together with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita. The trio released an album titled Joy in 2018.


Sementes (2008)
The Vortex Sessions (Adventure Music, 2012)
Raizes (Caboclos Records, 2014)
Joy (Bendigedig , 2018)


Artist Profiles: Guillermo Barrón Ríos

Guillermo Barrón Ríos

Mexican percussionist Guillermo Barrón Ríos has developed his style with different ensembles that cover a wide range of musical genres such as classical music, rock, pop, flamenco, Mexican music, salsa and Latin jazz, among others. He has performed with many international artists: José Feliciano, Luisito Quintero, Charlie Sepúlveda, among others.

Barrón has one Latin jazz musical production under his belt, “¿Cuál es la prisa?” (What’s the rush?), that includes original compositions and arrangements, featuring his main musical influences: Latin-American music, jazz and flamenco. Additionally, he has participated in a great selection of musical recordings, sharing credits with Gilberto Santa Rosa, among many others.

He currently lives in New York City, where he collaborates with different musical projects.


Artist Profiles: Tito De Gracia

Tito De Gracia

Rafael Angel ‘Tito’ De Gracia was born on April 4, 1962 in Villa Palmeras, Santurce, Puerto Rico. He began playing the tumbadoras at 5 years of age and at 12 he was already playing the bongos and the timbales. He also studied the trumpet from 14 to 16 years old. In his early adolescence, he joined the band Los Chiquitines del Son as a percussionist, directed by renowned guitarist Max Torres.

From 1978 to 1980, he played the timbales with the salsa band Maldades, lead by pianist Archie Pereira. Later, from 1980 to 1982, he played the tumbadoras with saxophonist Hector Lopez’s orchestra San Juan, recreating the music of Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez. From 1982 to 1984, Tito continued to play the tumbadoras with the Panamericana orchestra, under the direction of trumpetist Carlos ‘Coamito’ Rodriguez.

In 1984, due to his consistent and brilliant performances, Tito De Gracia, was signed with the company Latin Percussion. From 1985 to 1990, he joined bongo player Roberto Roena’s Apollo Sound orchestra playing the timbales and also singer ‘Cano’ Estremera’s orchestra, in this case first playing the bongos and later the timbales.

From 1990 to 1999, Tito played the timbales with Andy Montañez’s orchestra and from 2000 until today he performs with singer Michael Stuart’s orchestra, where he plays a combination of timbales and drums. From 2002 until today, he has also performed with the band Truco y Zaperoko and with Rumbantela.

Tito De Gracia has recorded and performed with various bands in several music genres, joining great contemporary music figures like Mark Anthony, Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Oscar De León, Luis Enrique, Trina Medina, Ismael Miranda, Andy Montañez, Jerry Rivera, Eddie Santiago, Ricardo Arjona, Chayanne and Franco de Vita, pianist Papo Lucca, flute players Nestor Torres and Dave Valentin and with trumpetist Humberto Ramirez and Tego Calderón. Tito began to perform as group leader in 1996 with his 7 Knights and since 2003, directing his Naoka Jam, with whom he recorded his debut album My Latin Roots (ONC Records).

In 2003, Tito De Gracia performed in Carolina, Puerto Rico (2003) in the kettledrum player’s concert, where he was presented an Official Proclaim and he also performs in the film Habana Nights, filmed in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


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.

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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)