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This is the real deal, direct from Matanzas. Check 'em out at

"Kabiosile presents live recordings of Afro Cuban folkloric music from Cuba’s most dynamic African spiritual tradition: Santeria (also known as Lucumi or la Regla de Ocha)."


Learn to Play the Bata Drums Matanzas-Style
El Lenguaje del Tambor: Bata Rhythms and Techniques from Matanzas, Cuba

2 DVDs, 5 hours total, all regions 
This comprehensive 2 disc DVD package offers more than 5 hours of demonstrations, tutorials, and interviews about how to play the Afro Cuban bata drums. In Spanish with English subtitles.

The film features Master of Afro Cuban Percussion Daniel Alfonso Herrera, the most sought after percussion instructor in Matanzas, Cuba. His clean, disciplined technique and clear, detailed explanations of the intricacies of Matanzas style bata drumming are invaluable for both the novice and experienced drummer.

An extract from this set on YouTube shows an interview with the famed Esteban "Chachá" Vega Bacallao conducted by Juan Garcia, former director of the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional.

Fuerza del Tambor

This DVD documents the Afro Cuban folkloric ritual music of the Santeria religion as played in Matanzas, Cuba, the region considered to be la fuente (the source) of the Afro Cuban religions in Cuba.

Eight selections from authentic public drumming celebrations illustrate Afro Cuban folkloric music as it is played in the religious (vs. tourist) environment.

In addition to the traditional Lucumi bata drums, the DVD also includes rare footage of the unique Lucumi Bembe Macagua drums and an unusual segment of Palo Mayombe songs accompanied by Aña.

The 90-minute DVD includes:

  • Interviews with Alfredo Calvo, Elder of the Egwado branch of Santeria
  • Drumming demonstrations of the Palo toques and the Bembe Macagua drums
  • Lyric subtitles are included for all the songs.
  • Interviews are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Vamos al Tambor

The DVD is 90 minutes long and includes two separate presentations, both of which were filmed live in Matanzas, Cuba.

“Three Changos” gives you an intimate view of the presentation of three Iyawos (new initiates of the Santeria religion) to the sacred bata drums and the community.

The presentation is done Matanzas-style and includes a complete oru cantado (cycle of songs) to all the Orishas.

The segment culminates in a powerful call to the Orisha Chango to witness the crowning and presentation of the new kings.

“Aña” shares the relatively rare presentation of newly consecrated bata drums (Aña, pronounced an-yá) and drummers (Omo Aña) to the drums that gave them birth and to the community.

Bata y Bembe de Matanzas

The CD includes a complete oru cantado (sung cycle of songs) for all the Orishas, as sung and played during a presentation to the sacred drums in Matanzas, Cuba.

In most cases, several songs are sung for each Orisha.

The cycle culminates in a powerful rendition of a classic song for the warrior Orisha Chango.

The CD also includes two tracks of the sacred Lucumi Bembe Macagua drums, a unique set of drums only heard in Matanzas, played together with the bata drums and then alone.



Alfredo Calvo: La Fuerza del Tambor: Bata, Bembe y Güiro en Matanzas, Cuba (DVD)
On CD Baby

Kabiosile’e new DVD, “La Fuerza del Tambor,” offers a rare look inside the Matanzas Afro Cuban religious community and captures a piece of history that is in danger of being lost. It features public religious celebrations, drumming demonstrations, and interviews with elders of the Lucumí Santeria and Palo Mayombe traditions. The DVD includes never-before-seen footage of a unique set of Lucumi bembe drums, called Bembe Macagua, and a rare sequence of Palo Mayombe songs played with bata drums. It also includes more traditional examples of the power of the drums to communicate with the African deities known as Orishas. The film was recorded live in the home of Alfredo Calvo, widely regarded as the most knowledgeable Santero and Palero in Matanzas.

In addition to the eight segments of live public drumming celebrations and the two drumming demonstrations, Calvo and several other respected members of the Matanzas Afro Cuban community are interviewed on such topics as the relationship between Palo and the sacred bata drums and the birth of the Bembe Macagua drums.

One of the DVD’s most valuable features is subtitles for all of the Lucumí and Palo songs, many of which are no longer sung anywhere in Cuba except Matanzas. Interviews are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Alfredo Calvo Prado is a priest of Agayu with more than 60 years of Ocha. He is an Elder of the Egwado branch of the Santeria religion, of which his godmother, Fermina Gomez (Ocha Bi), is considered the founder. Affectionately known as El Gallo (the Rooster) for his strong, distinctive singing voice, he is one of the most talented and knowledgeable apóns (lead singers) in Matanzas. He is the owner of the Aña Oba Tola bata drums heard on all of Kabiosile’s recordings, and is an accomplished drummer in his own right. Alfredo is a highly sought-after Oriate (the high priest of the Santeria religion who is in charge of all rituals) and diviner with the dilogún (the cowry shells that serve as the mouth of the Orishas).

Alfredo is also tata or high priest of Palo Mayombe. Many people come to him for readings with the chavalongo (shells used for divination in the Palo religion) and initiations. His enormous prenda sits alongside those of his grandfather and great uncle, both slaves from the Congo who brought the secrets of their prendas with them from Africa. Alfredo is also Násaco, the highest level of initiation in the all-male Abakua society derived from the traditions of the Caravali tribe.

Reynier Urrutia, a young drummer and singer, commented during an interview on the DVD about teaching the next generation: “There are still elders who say, “I don’t teach anyone, it’s all going with me.” Compadre, no, that’s wrong. Because if you take everything with you, no one will know…the religion will be lost.”

“La Fuerza del Tambor” is the third disc produced and distributed by Kabiosile, an organization dedicated to the preservation and sharing of Afro Cuban folkloric music traditions.


Kabiosile continues to generate our respect and further interest. Here they offer a direct, honest insiders perspective of how practitioners in Cuba elicit the attention of the orishas. Both the picture and sound are of high quality, which is helpful to appreciate the subtleties of the sacred batá drums. Ceremonies, in the form of cantos, güiro or bembé, are interspersed with concise question and answer segments (filmed separately and nicely edited) featuring some of the percussionists. It's a smart format that creates a context for each musical segment. For the initiated or novice, this excellent quality DVD is Highly Recommended. (BP, 2006-06-06) --


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