Rafael Monteagudo (Drummer/Percussionist) arrived in the US in 2000 from Havana, Cuba. His areas of focus include jazz, funk, fusion, Latin Jazz, and Afro-Cuban. He plays drumset, timbales, congas, bata, and bongos. It was the thriving musical environment that he came from that inspired him to play drums at the young age of eight. He grew up in a neighborhood in Havana that has produced some of the most famous Cuban musicians. The musical traditions in Havana are rich in both popular and folkloric music. It was through sharing the strong African traditions that are inherent in Cuban culture that Rafael gained such a wide range of styles.
Rafael continued his studies at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) and later at Felix Varela Conservatory in Havana. While in Cuba, Mr. Monteagudo had the opportunity to work with some of the best-known Cuban jazz and folkloric groups, including Calle 42, Eddy Mesa, jazz quartet Carisma and the Conjunto Folklorico of the Univeristy of Havana to name a few. He also performed at various prestigious festivals such as the Havana Jazz Festival and Cuba Disco.
Since Rafeal has been in the US, he has performed in such venues as Lincoln Center, Central Park Summer Stage, The Jazz Galery, Joe's Pub, BANF, Blues Alley, the Smithsonian Institute, Kennedy Center, Aspen Jazz Festival, Key May Jazz Festival, the Rochester Jazz Festival, the Caramoor Jazz Festival, the Sedona Jazz Festival on the Rocks, Artscape, the Painted Bride Art Center, and the Cherry Blossom Festival. He has toured with the Washington Ballet, Yosvany Terry, Walter Bell, Carlos Delpino, Chuchito Valdez, and the Pedrito Martinez Project among others. He has played with Michele Rosewoman, Desmond Child for his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Lou Volpe, Bill Summer/Hombres Calientes, Yosvany Terry, Alfredo De La Fe, Yerba Buena, and Marlon Simon/Nagual Spirits, among others. He has also worked with various production groups, such as GALA Hispanic Theater, the In Series, and the youth of Soul y Sol. He recently played for the new Musical Cuba Libre with music and Lyrics by Desmond Child and Davitt Sigerson.
Rafael was instrumental in starting Future Connection, a collective Jazz trio with drums, bass, and piano. The trio has been working together for the past year. They had their premiere performance at the International Society of Bassists Convention in 2009. They are fervently working on their first CD of all original music that will be released in 2011.
Mr. Monteagudo has taught regularly at the Latin American Folk Institute in Maryland as well as offers master percussion seminars at universities and music schools. He has given workshops at Coppin State University, University of Richmond, the Levine School of Music, Loyola College, George Mason University, the Baltimore International Rhythm and Drumming Society, and the International Scholars Conference in Washington, DC. He has also taught workshops with Yosvany Terry's band at BANF in Canada as well as in Jamaica and Drummers Collective in New York with Pedro Martinez. Rafael’s percussion workshops include drum set techniques, applying Afro—Cuban rhythms to jazz, hand drums, and the various styles of Afro-Cuban music.
Rafael has just released his first instructional DVD “Clave in Modern Drumset Playing”. This is the first in a series of videos that incorporates many of the African and Afro-Cuban rhythms, including those played on congas and batas that he grew up with. The unique twist that Rafael adds is how to play these rhythms on the drum set. This allows drummers to gain interdependence in playing using a new method that can bring excitement to their practice.
Rafael has also accompanied dance classes for Robert Battle, Hunter College, Marymount Manhattan College, and the Royal Academy of Dance Summer Intensive. He has also worked with and composed music for B3W Dance and Alafia Afro-Cuban Dance Ensemble and has also worked with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble and Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance.
Rafael was featured in Modern Drummer in October 2004. He uses and is endorsed by Sabian cymbals and Kaman Music/Toca Percussion.
Review of Clave in Modern Drumset Playing by Brian Campbell in the Baltimore at Home Newspaper
Clave in Modern Drumset Playing: An Instructional Video for Drummers
I am no stranger to instructional drum videos and DVDs. Being a drummer myself, and because I am completely self taught, I have watched a few just to see if I was missing anything. I have never seen one as specific and focused as Rafael Monteagudo’s Clave in Modern Drumset Playing.
Clave is a percussion instrument that traditionally was made of wood, but nowadays they are also made of fiberglass or plastics due to the longer durability of these materials. When struck they produce a bright clicking noise. Claves are sometimes hollow and carved in the middle to amplify the sound.
Monteagudo moves past the normal beginner drumming BS and straight into the art or playing clave. Clave was something I took up for a few years playing, and let me tell you, it is not easy to incorporate into your regular playing. Monteagudo very clearly and concisely shows on this DVD just how and when to incorporate it into normal play. He breaks down just how and where to insert clave playing in certain scenarios, different time signatures and different musical styles in separate sections of his DVD. As a drummer, I can tell you, the way he lays out the DVD and lays out the different uses through different situations; it is very easy to follow along.
This video breaks down how to play clave independently with the snare, then with the bass drum, next the cowbell, and finally the tom drums, with exercises for each throughout. The video also trains the drummer to gain interdependence in their playing, which can be applied to all style of music.
Besides the instructions, it is worth noting that Monteagudo as a drummer is extremely talented and very well versed in the different styles he uses on his DVD. He has a fantastic playing record and his resume and list of accomplishments reads like a grocery list.
The sound of the DVD itself is great. Usually what you get from drumming instructional videos is sound that is too loud once the entire kit is used, as the cymbals tend to drown out the majority of the other sounds. But, throughout the entire DVD you can clearly hear where Monteagudo is using his clave, and you can hear each stroke of the kit he makes.
As a critic, and a drummer, I would recommend this DVD to all drummers out there who are looking for that missing sound to their play, or if you’re interested in taking up clave, then this is the definitive instructional DVD for you.