francisco aguabella

About Francisco Aguabella

Francisco Aguabella's extensive music career spans more than six decades earning him a most well-deserved title of "Legendary Conguero" and "Master of the Bata drum."

He first left Cuba in the 1950's to perform with Katherine Dunham in the Shelley Winters movie "Mambo" (1954) filmed in Italy. After touring with Katherine Dunham he came to the United States and performed and toured with Peggy Lee for the next seven years. He has performed all over the world: Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and the United States, including a special appearance at the White House. Francisco has enjoyed an extensive music performing and recording career and has delighted many audiences with his masterful and powerful rhythms.

There are many great artists that Francisco performed and recorded with such as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Frank Sinatra, Perez Prado, Eddie Palmieri, Cachao, Lalo Schifrin, Cal Tjader, Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson, Poncho Sanchez, Bebo Valdes, and numerous others. Francisco's love of music transcends genres as he has also performed and recorded with Rock legends Carlos Santana, Three Dog Night, Paul Simon, and the Doors.

Multiple awards and honors have been presented to Francisco during his career including the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Durfee Foundation's Master Musicians' Fellowship, and recognition by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. He is featured in the documentary, "Sworn to the Drum" by filmmaker Les Blank, and is featured in a documentary, "Aguabella," currently in production, directed by actor/filmmaker Orestes Matacena (The Mask, Bitter Sugar). He has also appeared with his Latin Jazz Ensemble on television programs including the Orlando Jones Show.

A widely recognized master conguero and bata artist and a caring and knowledgeable instructor, Francisco has led his own Latin Jazz Ensemble for over a decade. He has also been invited to perform as a featured conguero with various groups such as the Conga Kings, which has been home to Giovanni Hidalgo, Candido Camero and Patato Valdez. Francisco has endorsed Pearl Drums since 2004 and taught Afro Cuban drumming at UCLA under the Department of Ethnomusicology.

Francisco's passion and fire on the conga drums have always been absolutely contagious. Every performance, especially his solos, draws the listener in, resulting in a spiritual and most stirring experience. He is an artist whose music and spiritual connection to the drums will continue to inspire both musicians and listeners worldwide.

-Orna Rachovitsky-