Pancho Quinto

Decades: 1990s 2000s


Francisco Hernández Mora, Cuba. Tellingly, percussionist extraordinaire Pancho Quinto’s most widely available release is entitled Rumba Sin Fronteras (Rumba Without Frontiers). He offers an unconventional take on his home country’s most exuberant music, fusing rumba with rhythmic and harmonic elements from other Afro-Cuban and African-American traditions including jazz and hip-hop.

Quinto’s music career was started with performances in traditional religious ceremonies, earning the rank of omo ana or master/consecrated drummer, which is one who has been initiated to play the ritual drums. During the 50s, he performed in carnival groups and played rumbas, notably appearing with Celia Cruz. Nevertheless, despite his musical talent (and seemingly owing to the political climate in Cuba), Quinto worked on Havana’s docks, an experience that appears to have had a profound influence on his music making methodologies. In...

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