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Francisco Aguabella: H2O

A few years ago documentarian Les Blank profiled this legendary conga drummer in his film Sworn to Drum. A drum priest of Santeria, it highlighted Aguabella’s spiritual connection and knowledge of Afro-Cuban folkloric rhythms that brought him to the attention of American dance diva Katherine Dunham in the 1950s and he joined her troupe. Leaving in 1959, he landed in New York City where he joined Tito Puente’s band for a minute before relocating to Oakland, Calif., where he became an important part of the West Coast jazz scene as well as touring with pop stars like Peggy Lee.

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