The Cuban King of the Congas
“There is no percussionist in the world who doesn’t follow me” “Tata Güines”
Federico Aristides Soto Alejo known as “Tata Güines” born on 30th June 1930 was one of the most remarkable Cuban percussionist in the history of Afro Cuban music who specialised in playing the “Tumbadora” conga drums originally brought to Cuba by African slaves.
Known for developing an impeccable technique of drawing a great range of sounds from the patch with both his finger nails and hands his style was greatly imitated. His work on the congas took him to the United States where he brought Cuban music to the spotlight playing alongside the jazz greats Dizzie Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis along with Cuba’s finest musicians including Benny More , pianist Chano Pozo, Bebo Valdés, bass player Cachao Lopez and trumpeter Jesús Alemañy. He internationalised the traditional Afro Cuban Guaguanco, Columbia and creole Bembe , making him a pioneering legend amongst jazz musicians and a celebrity in the musical world in an amazing career that spanned six decades,
Tata Güines died at the age of 77 and towards the end of his life he remained a magical and inspirational performer collaborating with artists including Chori, Changuito, Valdés the young Spanish flamenco star Diego El Cigala where he produced delicate conga piece for the Grammy-winning track Lágrimas Negras.
Today his son “Tata Güines” Junior continues with his father's legacy taking his father's technique around the world in specialist workshops and holding Cuba's most important musical tribute in honour of his father CubaRumba the “Tata Güines” annualmemorial festival.
Tata Güines Memorial CUBARUMBA Festival
Havana, Cuba, 2021
In a country that is bursting with rhythms, where percussion is a highly respected religious art form, to be regarded as a national figure of Cuba and to be known as the “King of The Conga” is truly a great accomplishment for a musician. Today Tata Güines’ son, Arturo Soto Martinez, commemorates his father’s legacy each year with the “Festival Internacional Cubarumba”.
The contagious flavour of the Rumba has swept through seas of people and as well as providing unforgettable moments to many it is the perfect opportunity for tourists to gain an insight into Cuban idiosyncrasy and traditions. It is for this reason that the Rumba is considered intangible cultural heritage for Cuba and for humanity. The Cubarumba festival aims to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of Cuba for future generations and promote the origins and roots of Cuban national identity.
Taking place in the heart of Havana’s UNESCO heritage site, the festival features traditional Cuban music, percussion and dance workshops, culturally inclusive performances bringing together communities, tourists and people of all walks of life in one extremely artistic and cultural musical celebration.
Salsomanos UK are honoured to act as a UK participant in the festival.