R.I.P. Francisco Aguabella, Afro-Cuban Jazz Great


Francisco Aguabella left Cuba in the 1950's and quickly established himself as a master conguero and bata musician in the American and nascent Afro-Cuban jazz scenes. Noted for his fluidity and energy, he was a sought-after performer who shared the stage with musicians as varied as Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Cachao and Cal Tjader.

He will also be remembered as a caring and dedicated instructor who taught Afro-Cuban drumming to undergraduate and graduate students at UCLA and was honored in the 90's with the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was featured in the documentary "Sworn to the Drum" by Les Blank and there is also a documentary about him in production by Orestes Matacena. Check the clip below from "Sworn to the Drum" where Carlos Santana talks about the man and swears "the walls sweat" when he played. Aguabella passed in his LA home from a cancer-related illness.

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Abel Folgar