Güines, Tata [Federico Arístides Soto]
- Mario Rey
[Federico Arístides Soto]
(b Güines, Cuba, June 30, 1930; d Havana, Cuba, Feb 4, 2008). Cuban drum virtuoso known as the “King of Congas.” As a child growing up in the poor town that inspired his stage name, Güines practiced on makeshift drums assembled from food containers. He began his musical career as a bassist in local dance bands, subsequently moving to Havana to become a professional percussionist. In 1952 he joined Fajardo y Sus Estrellas and toured internationally. Güines relocated to New York City in 1957 to perform jazz with Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. His arresting drumming style, inimitable fingernail technique, and virtuoso use of multiple congas caught the attention of the jazz community, securing him center stage performances at the Palladium, Birdland, and the Waldorf Astoria.
Despite his success in the United States, racial segregation and his support for the communist Revolution precipitated his return to Cuba, where he founded the jazz ensemble Los Amigos. Although his popularity waned after the Revolution, the acclaimed Estrellas del Areito recording sessions (...