London’s Afro Cuban Night and Travels with Percussion

The first Tuesday of every month sees London’s Afro Cuban Music Night, run by musicians Vicky Jassey and David Pattman of Bombo Arts. I’ve written several posts about this night, but not since last summer so I thought I’d update with some pictures I’ve taken in the last few months.  The evening consists of two sets; the first is traditional Afro Cuban music and song played on bata drums and the second half is a rumba session, played on congas and cajon amongst other instruments. It’s a very relaxed and informal night  and everyone is encouraged to play, sing, dance or just listen.


Akiko and Carlos dancing rumba:

Ines Loubet Franco playing bata:

The image below was taken at last month’s session, during the rumba section of the night. Yosvani Diaz of Rumberos de Cuba, visiting from Cuba, can be seen leaping into action:

Below, Yosvani leading a song in the rumba section. I like this picture as I think the green lights convey some of the energy of the music.


Each month has its surprises with guests bringing their own flavour and experience to the mix. Below, Antoine Miniconi, French-born and living in Mexico, is on bata:

In the picture below, Betty Rojas, visiting from France, is playing conga:

I realised I’d met Betty some 10 years before in Paris. The late great Cachao was playing at the New Morning jazz club, and we were both there at the gig. The percussionist Richie Flores was on that gig. Here is a picture of Cachao “duelling” with Richie Flores that I took at their concert in the Barbican nearly 10 years ago:

More recently, in May 2016,  I was privileged to attend another incredible gig in New York. It was Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive Revisited, celebrating 45 years of this iconic 1971 Latin Funk album. This was a free daytime concert at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. It was great to see one of my favourite percussionists and old friend Jose Claussell in action. Here are a couple of shots I took:

Jose Clausell on percussion, Little Johnny on conga, & Camilo Molina playing bata. I think the singer is Kelli Sae.

New York is also now home to another of my favourite percussionists, Cuban musician Pedrito Martinez. Here he is with his band playing in a great small club called Subrosa in 2015:

Band member Jhair Sala, born in Peru but raised in New York:

And back to Britain; here’s a “vintage” picture I took and have since scanned of Jose Claussell during a visit to London many years ago. It was at a supermarket and we were on a mission to get his favourite British biscuits, Maryland Cookies:


The Afro Cuban Music Night  takes place the 1st Tuesday of every month at Tipsy, 20 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XN. Next session this coming Tuesday, 7 February, 2017

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