TO SING, TO DRUM, TO DANCE -
CANTAR, TAMBOR, BAILAR
The Voice And The Drum...
The Story And The Rhythm...
The Heart And Soul Of Music In Any Culture...
The first musical instruments were born of a human need to participate with the nature of
life. The birds sing, the rivers flow, sound was our first realization of and innate connection to
the expression of life. All musical instruments are our attempt at reflecting and imitating the
sound made by God's gift, the voice. From the cadence of our heartbeat to the longer cycles
of the seasons and the ages we are immersed in rhythm.
I met Gloria in a small Mayan village in the Mexican Caribbean. She had recently moved from
her home in the heart of Havana Vieja (Old Havana), Cuba. Love of music became our bond.
We performed in an incredible variety of venues, from Cancun to Tulum, from Jazz clubs to
beach parties and festivals. As a duo our sound was unique and intimate. With up thirty
international drummers backing us, it was electrifying! Almost every day Gloria would say,
"You must come to Cuba with me!". Gloria began to unfold the tale of the musical legacy of
Gloria's father Nino Rivera, composer, arranger and tres player extraordinaire, literally
invented the big-band Afro-Cuban sound. A revolutionary innovator, Nino and the
members of Mongo Santa Maria's band, began combining the sacred instruments of
Yoruba in ways that were traditionally taboo. Gloria's mother, Elisa Portal, was a
renowned singer as well. Her parents were both decorated national musical heroes.
In 1980 Nino Rivera won the coveted Cultura Cubana Award, which was presented to
him in person by Presidente Fidel Castro (Gloria was there too!). Arturo Sandoval,
Iraquere, Sergio Vitier, Los Van Van and many other Cuban musical greats were also
honored that day. Nino was also a founding father of the Buena Vista Social Club - the
"Cuban Rat-Pack". When Ry Cooder was assembling the cast for the Buena Vista
Social Club movie soundtrack, the boys were so heartbroken at the late Nino's absence,
they decided that as a tres player and amigo he was irreplaceable. Hence no tres player
was hired for the sessions.
Nothing could have prepared me for the whirlwind tour Gloria took me on in Havana.
We saw sixteen bands in ten days! Remarkably, all the stars (who tour constantly)
were all in town at the same time! We visited Tata Guines in his home near Gloria's.
We jammed with Changuito, Chu Cho Valdes and family at the Havana Jazz club
Zorra Y el Cuervo (The Fox and the Bull). (A couple years later Gloria and I worked
at Roots Jazz Club in Cancun with Chu Cho Valdes Jr. (Chu Chito). I was welcomed
and featured with Sergio Pereda's band, Los Jovenes Classicos Del Son entertaining
men in white suits smoking cigars and the most beautiful women on the planet in a
classic Spanish palace courtyard! I remember I was playing a tune with the band when
all the musicians except the drummers left the stage. I was surprised to realize that all
the other drummers were leaving too, leaving the Minnesota North-Woods drummer -
fisherman holding an Arabic drum and the groove. The eyes of the audience got very
wide and a lot of heads were scratched until they realized that I was playing their own
music on an instrument they had never seen before. They all jumped up and danced!
We also saw Manolito Simonet, Tata Guines and made a guest appearance on the
Cuban MTV takeoff Contacto. The thing that struck me in the end was that I had seen
sixteen bands, all Cuban, who were so different in style and arrangement you would
never know that were from the same country. This was the essence of Cuban music,
an innovative, constantly evolving melting pot of musical creativity fueled by possibly
the most energetic, enigmatic people in the world.
So Gloria, like her father, was not content to play only the traditional styles and tunes.
She had every intent of creating her vision. With my background as a world fusion player
I knew that this was going to be very interesting. She suggested that we record a CD
combining Mediterranean percussion with songs composed by her father, mother and
friends mixed with Yoruban Orishas (chants). We intentionally made the arrangements
sparse and ambient to present Gloria's voice and the songs themselves with the intimacy
and beauty of the island of Cuba itself.
Soon after Cuba, I was fortunate to find a beautiful private lake in the Boundary Waters
near the Minnesota/Canada border where I could build my dream recording studio.
This proved to be a perfect environment for the creative process with no pressure on the
artist/fisherman. The wind and solar powered, studio is miles from "civilization" in a pristine
but sometimes bear-inhabited wilderness. Listen deeply for the sound of the wind and
water in this recording, this gift from Gloria and me. Can you hear it?
-Robin Adnan Anders
1. Drume Negrita - A Cuban Lullaby
2. Yemaya - A sacred Orisha
3. Havana - Gloria's Friend Sylvia's composition
(Sylvia Acea Ramos)
4. Guaguanco for the Saints - Original Trance Journey
(Robin Anders and Gloria Rivera)
5. Ogun - The Ogun Orisha
6. Dance of the Dead - A powerful tribute to our ancestors.
(Robin Anders and Gloria Rivera)
7. Mi Corrazon Baila Mambo - My Heart Dances the Mambo
(A traditional song made famous by Gloria's mother Elisa Portal)
8. El Jamaiquino - The Jamaican Man
(Written by Gloria's father Nino Rivera)
TO SING, TO DRUM, TO DANCE - CANTAR, TAMBOR, BAILAR
Gloria La Nina Rivera - Vocals, Claves, Chequere
Robin Adnan Anders - Vocals, Arabic Tabla, Congas, Macedonian Tupan, Djembe, Muzhar, Riqq, Trap Set, Frame Drums, Claves, Chequere, Bongos, Pakistani Bushorn, Broken Glass etc....
Recorded at Darbuki Island North Studios, Minnesota USA
Engineered and Produced by Robin Adnan Anders
Mastered by Doug Wild
C. 2002 Darbuki King Records
All Rights Reserved
Photos by Mike Barich and
Layout and Design by Michael Sullivan and Drew Miller
Thanks to: Nino Rivera, Elisa Portal, Iramis Arnaldo, Francesco and Francisco, Marta Valdes, Rafael Paneca, Pedro Sanchez, Lazaro Abdul, Chu Cho Valdes Jr., Manolito Simonet, Rene Thompson, Damian Rodrigues, Wallace E. Hill and Andrea Craig-Hill, Victor Valens and his 1959 Cuban Cafe (Minneapolis), Vince and Lori Welnick, Bob and Angela Brown, Christian Beck, Paco de Lucia and all our friends, family and lovers of Cuban music.
Dedicated to Gloria's Family as an offering to Yemaya.