Francisco Aguabella

Francisco Aguabella (1925-2010), an Afro-Cuban master drummer, was a multi-faceted musician whose work included folkloric traditions, popular dance groups, jazz, and jazz. Born in Matanzas (Cuban) on October 10, 1925, he died in Los Angeles on May 7, 2010. Aguabella was a Matanzas native. Aguabella was born in Matanzas, Cuba. He showed a natural talent for drumming and was initiated to several Afro-Cuban drumming traditions including bata and iyesa. Aguabella was also raised with rumba. He left Cuba in 1950 to perform in the Shelley Winters film Mambo, which was filmed in Italy. He toured with Katherine Dunham and then came to America where he performed and toured for seven years with Peggy Lee. Francisco Aguabella was one of the few Cuban percussionists to arrive in America during the 1940s and 1950s. Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria were among the notable Cuban percussionists to arrive in the U.S. at that time. Aguabella was a long-standing performer who performed all over the United States, including the White House, in Europe, Australia and South America. Francisco had a long and successful music recording and performing career. His powerful and masterful rhythms delighted many people. Francisco has performed with great jazz musicians such as Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria. Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and Eddie Palmieri. Francisco received numerous awards, including the Durfee Foundation’s Master Musikians Fellowship and the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was also recognized by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. He appears in the documentary “Sworn to the Drum”, by Les Blank, as well as in “Aguabella,” which is currently being produced by Orestes Matacena (The Mask, Bitter Sugar). His ensemble has appeared on several television programs, including the Orlando Jones Show (FX). He was also a member the Jorge Santana Latin-rock band Malo in the 1970s. Francisco was an internationally recognized master conguero, bata artist and a caring instructor. He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1992. Aguabella was a member of the faculty at the annual Explorations in afrocuban dance and drum workshop hosted in Arcata by the Humboldt State University Office of Extended Education. Afro-Cuban drumming was taught to undergraduate and graduate students at University of California Los Angeles. Aguabella, a victim of cancer, died in Los Angeles on the 7th of May 2010. From Wikipedia

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