Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Miguel Anga Diaz
Director: Dan Thress
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational
The Past, Present and Future of Conga Playing with the Grammy winning Cuban Percussionist of The Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Irakere, Danilo Perez, Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Orlando Cachito Lopez, Ruben Gonzales, Ibrahim Fer... more »
A grab bag of ideas from a master player
M. Palmieri | 01/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those not familiar with his work, Anga was (I feel sorry saying "was") a very adroit conga player who often performed with more than the traditional two drums, to give his grooves a more melodic aspect. He was also capable of playing very fast licks, sometimes using Changuito's "mano secreta" double stroke technique. If you have heard Giovanni Hidalgo, you have a general idea of the "school" of congueros that Anga came from.
How you feel about this video will depend on your skill level and interest. A beginning conga player (or non-conga player) could watch this for pleasure, but might be a little overwhelmed. Anga plays his own five drum variations of the basic tumbao and guaguanco patterns, but he never explains the underlying strokes or patterns --that's not the video's intent.
Intermediate and advanced players have a grab bag of licks to check out, some explained and some not, plus a couple new groove ideas -- the pilon and batumbata (sp?) conga rhythms played against other percussion and a hiphop drumset beat -- all played by Anga, overdubbing to become three players. There is also a thought-provoking duet with a dj in a drum&bass style, with some nice doubletime grooving by Anga.
The one audience that may be a little frustrated are people who prefer the folkloric style of Cuban percussion, past & present, eg the Munequitos, Conjunto Folklorico, etc. Although Anga plays one well-known bata rhythm in passing, he does not really play rumba or other traditional Afro-cuban styles in their more sophisticated forms, preferring -- in this video, at least -- to take fairly simple rhythms like tumbao and the old-fashioned style of guaguanco, and elaborate on them with more notes and faster licks. This is not a criticism, just a matter of aesthetic choice.
Speaking as a musician who does not play much conga anymore, I most enjoyed the conga-turntable duet -- a very interesting musical statement.
If you are a conguero with some fluency on the instrument, you will probably find something here to provoke or challenge you, assuming you like the Hidalgo-Changuito style of playing.