Los Muñequitos de Matanzas – Ito Iban Echu (Sacred Yoruba Music of Cuba music) (1996)

FrontCover1Calling African Spirits Long Distance, from Cuba:

This music was created to appease, praise, enchant, or request help from the deities, known as orishas, of the African Yoruba tradition. As Yoruba beliefs have evolved in Cuba, the entreaties have been set to unique rhythms, and are dependent on the tones produced by specific drums (the bata drum, played by hand, figures prominently).

That’s what happens on Ito Iban Echu, an electrifying set of musical offerings to the orishas by Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. The group was founded in 1952, and became one of the island nation’s most important preservers of not just traditional folklore, but rumba and Afro-Cuban dance music. The CD’s title comes from a phonetic Spanish interpretation of a Yoruba phrase meaning “It came out well”—it’s often spoken when a babalu, or diviner, finishes consulting with an oracle. But it’s a fitting description of these live tracks, which exude a deep sense of mission.

The drums guide everything—the pace of the chants, the intensity of the singing, the rough “structure” of the pieces. A set of bata drums has six heads, each of a different size; the resulting pitches are thought to speak directly to the orishas. As rendered by the veteran group, the chants become hypnotic cycles of declaration, affirmation, and elaboration. Among the most intense are “Chango eyeleo,” for the flamboyant deity of thunder and lighting, and “Yemaya (seco),” for the water goddess who governs motherhood and fertility. All of the chants affirm something crucial about life—or the afterlife. With deep passion Los Muñequitos show how simple phrases can become a conduit for communication with the spirit world. (by Tom Moon)

I Include a study guide about Los Muñequitos de Matanzas for more informations.

Los Muñequitos de Matanzas

(Past and present members of the group include (in alphabetical order): Iván Alfonso, Freddy Jesús Alfonso Borges, Israel Berriel González, Israel Berriel Jiménez “Toto,” Luis Cancino, Baldomero Ricardo Cané Gómez, Pedrito Currubia, Agustín Díaz Cano, Eddy Espinosa, Victoriano Espinosa “Titi,” Ronald González, Reyniel López González, José Andro Mella, Rafael Navarro Pujada “Niño,” Luis Deyvis Oduardo Ramos, Jaime Oña Ramos, Facundo Pelladito, Ana Pérez Herrera, Yuniscleyvis Ramos, Bárbaro Ramos Aldazábal, Diosdado Enier Ramos Aldazábal “Figurín,” Esther Yamile Ramos Aldazábal, Vivian Ramos Aldazábal, Diosdado Ramos Cruz, Alberto Romero Díaz, Ernesto Torriente “Chambelona,” Leonel Torriente, and Ricardo Yorca “Chacho.”)

01. Eleggua 3.16
02. Ogun Arere 5.51
03. Obatala 1.42
04. Babalu Ayé 4.49
05. Ochún 4.01
06. Yeye Ochun 4.10
07. Yemaya 2.53
08. Yemaya Olordo 4.45
09. Agayu 2.52
10. Chango Eyeleo 3.58
11. Dada 2.21
12. Oyá 2.59
13. Oyá 4.51
14. Eleggua 4.16