All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Tatá Güines

Tatá Güines Tatá Güines

Tatá Güines, like many musical veterans who started playing professionally in the 1940s and 50s, a golden age for Cuban music, he found international fame in the 1990s at the end of the cold war, when some Cubans were allowed to travel.

Most recent of his long career trajectory, Güines had played on “Lágrimas Negras” the 2003 flamenco-Cuban disc that saw émigré Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés and Spanish vocalist El Cigala win two Latin and five Spanish Grammies. Güines and Valdés' musical friendship dated back to the 1950s, when in a group with bassist Israel “Cachao” López they recorded what became Cachao's “Descargas” and Valdés' “Sabor de Cuba” albums.

Although Güines was known as “el rey de los tambores” (king of the drums) a title that referenced his following of the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion, which speaks to its Orisha deities through drums, he began by playing the bongos. He loved to tell how he made his first pair out of empty chorizo sausage and condensed milk tins.

Born Federico Aristides Soto Alejo into a musical family in Güines, east Havana, he began playing bongos and acoustic bass with the Ases del Ritmo in 1943, then with his uncle Dionisio Martinez's dance band and the family Orquesta Estrellas Nacientes. Like most Cuban musicians of his generation, he was self-taught, learning the congas by watching older players. With Chano Pozo as his inspiration, he was determined to create his own style of conga playing, teaching himself by night while working as a shoemaker by day.

Read more






Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.

Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers
CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more
Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads
Specializing in music, movies and video games
Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.