One of the most important Cuban percussionists of the past half-century, Francisco Aguabella has had a diverse and productive career. Born in Cuba in 1925, he started on the Bata drum when he was 10, gradually learning the other percussion instruments. Dropping out of school when he was 12, Aguabella worked with his father on the docks while playing music at night. A few years later he was a fulltime musician, moving to Havana and working at increasingly high-profile jobs. In 1953 Katherine Dunham hired him to play percussion for her dancers. He spent four years in Italy working with Dunham’s shows and appearing in the 1954 film Mambo. In 1957 Aguabella moved to the United States, working with Tito Puente.
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