In August 2000 I, Nolan Warden, was lucky enough to travel to Cuba to study folkloric Afro-Cuban music. On my first day there I stumbled upon a Santeria ceremony in a house in Havana. I met one of the bata drummers there, Lekiam Aguilar, and he invited me to another type of ceremony that he was going to play at. I'm glad I accepted because what I encountered was something I had never even heard about before. I began to learn about a type of music and ceremony that is rarely known outside of Cuba. I also met a number of great musicians and people from a group called Grupo Cuero y Cajon.
Grupo Cuero y Cajon is a group of Cuban musicians who perform regularly at religious festivities in and around the area of Marianao (a "suburb" of Havana). The players are from a neighborhood in Marianao called Pogolotti which, on any given day, could have numerous religious or semi-religious "actividades" going on. The group plays folkloric Afro-Cuban music based, in part, on traditional rhythms from the Bantu people of Africa. The songs that accompany these rhythms are usually called "Plegarias" or "Espirituales" (Spirituals)
and are often used in ceremonies to honor deceased ancestors (Egun). Although much of the group's repertoire is traditional, their musical knowledge, instrumentation, and personal style all contribute to a very unique sound.
I decided I couldn't leave Cuba before I had something to study and to help me remember this great group. So, I asked them if it would be okay for me to record some of what they do. They agreed, on condition that I help them sell the recording when I returned to the States. I told them that I would be more than happy to introduce others to this music--Nolan Warden, producer.