EARLIEST KNOWN COMMERCIAL RECORDINGS
OF FOLKLORIC RUMBA
As an avid record collector there is nothing like the thrill of finding
rare recordings of importance. I was very lucky to find an album containing
all of the rare 1947-48 SMC 78s from the Ritmo Afro-Cubano series in nearly
mint condition. When I played some of the more obscure tracks over the telephone
for my friend David Peñalosa we realized their significance in the
history of rumba recordings. Here is how David summed this up in his forthcoming
book Rumba Quinto due out in September of 2010 from Bembe Books.
David Penalosa, unlockingclave.com
In 1947-48 SMC released four 78 RPM phonorecords of their Ritmo Afro-Cubano
series that contain the earliest known audio documentation of folkloric
rumba. Two of the records (sides 1 through 4) were recorded under the name
Chano Pozo y su Ritmo de Tambores. The personnel are Chano Pozo, Carlos
Vidal, José Mangual, Kiki Rodríguez (Arsenio’s brother
and conguero) and the vocalist Miguelito Valdés. Luciano “Chano”
Pozo Gonzales (1915 – 1948) was a conguero and prolific composer,
best known for his historical Latin jazz collaborations with be-bop pioneer
Dizzy Gillespie. The four record sides consist of three rumbas and an abakuá.
The term folkloric should be qualified here in regards to the Pozo tracks.
To be sure, these are not band adaptations of rumba; the tracks consist
of voice and percussion only. On the other hand, this is not a full rumba
ensemble; it’s just six guys with a conga and a set of bongos. The
quinto and bonkó parts are played on the bongos (most likely by Pozo
and Mangual). It is also noteworthy that the tempos are significantly faster
than the guaguancós recorded in the mid-50s. The fast tempos could
reflect the influence of the cabaret, as Chano performed cabaret-style rumbas
at the Tropicana and other venues.
The other two 78s (sides 5 though 8) are under the name Vidal Bolado y su
Ritmo de Tambores. Vidal Bolado is the conguero better known as Carlos Vidal.
The four Vidal sides consist of a guaguancó, a columbia, an abakuá
and a bembé. The guaguancó and columbia tracks are probably
the earliest commercial recordings of authentic folkloric rumba. At the
time of this writing, the personnel for this date are unknown and none of
the four tracks have been re-released on CD.