Adjunct Assistant Professor
Afro-Cuban Music Ensemble
Born in Matanzas, Cuba, Francisco Aguabella is master of the Yoruba-derived bata drums and rumba form as well as contemporary traditions including Cuban son, salsa, and Latin jazz. He has recorded and/or performed with leading international musical artists such as Tito Puente, Cachao, Eddie Palimieri, Dizzie Gillespie, Cal Tjader, Lionel Hampton, and Celia Cruz. Aguabella has received a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and is the subject of a documentary film by Les Blank, Sworn to the Drum.
Francisco is one of the first eschelon of drummers who came to America and are responsible for all drummes that came after them," says Latin percussionist John Santos in the movie "Sworn To The Drum". "He is one of the strongholds of our music and has always kept the commitment to our Cuban rhythm. He plays with everybody but always maintains our rhythm, that’s very important," adds Isreal "Cachao" Lopez.
Chano Pozo is widely acknowledged as the first Cuban drummer to make a mark in the American music scene. Directly following him were Patato Valdez, Candido, Mongo Santamaria and Francisco Aguabella. As a master of the Bata (talking drum) Aguabella immediately impressed many. He was hired early on by Dizzy Gillespie and during his career has played and recorded with Peggy Lee, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Malo and Carlos Santana.