Bata identifies both the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba people and the culture and style of drumming, singing, and dancing associated with it. This book recounts the life story of Carlos Aldama, one of the masters of the bata drum, and through that story traces the history of bata culture as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then to the United States. For the enslaved Yoruba, bata rhythms helped sustain the religious and cultural practices of a people that had been torn from its roots. Aldama, as guardian of Afro-Cuban music and as a Santeria priest, maintains the link with this tradition forged through his mentor Jesus Perez (Oba Ilu), who was himself the connection to the preserved oral heritage of the older generation. By sharing his stories, Aldama and his student Umi Vaughan bring to light the techniques and principles of bata in all its aspects and document the tensions of maintaining a tradition between generations and worlds, old and new. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.
Carlos Aldama is omo Ana (sworn to the drum) and a priest of Chango in the Santeria religion. Born in Havana, he was a founding member of Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, studying under its original musical director, Jesus Perez (Oba Ilu), and later serving as musical director himself. He has worked with the National Symphony of Cuba, playwright Roberto Blanco, and Karl Marx Theatre director Alex Valdez, and has performed with Adalberto Alvarez y su Son, Lazaro Ros and Olorun, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Umi Vaughan is also omo Ana and is a priest of Ochun in the Santeria religion. He is an artist and anthropologist who explores dance, creates photographs and performances, and publishes about African Diaspora culture. He is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, and author of Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance: Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba. To learn more visit UmiArt.com