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MOZAMBIQUE The Manny Oquendo Touch
The mozambique is a popular style that was developed in Cuba by Pello 'El Afrokan' in the early 1960s. This carnival style rhythm, originally performed with numerous drums, was greatly influenced by another important Afro-Cuban carnival style; the conga de comparsa.

The rhythms presented here are examples of the style adapted by the New York bands who popularised the rhythm in the late 1960s, and in particular the band led by Eddie Palmieri which featured the great Manny Oquendo on timbales. According to noted bassist Andy Gonzalez (WKCR-FM interview, 1995) “Manny had a great deal to do with popularising the mozambique. The actual pattern has become the repertoire for almost every timbal player, a standard rhythm that Manny synthesised from a bunch of parts played in a big ensemble of drummers. To this day you ask any drummer or timbalero to play mozambique, and he or she will play the beat that Manny came up with. It's too bad he didn't patent it!.”   

In Manny Oquendo's mozambique style for timbales, the right hand plays a cha cha bell (small high pitched bell), while the left hand with a stick plays muffled and open tones on the low drum. The conga part presented here is one of the most popular parts employed in this style. The clave pattern is the one that provides the foundation in Afro-Cuban styles. The patterns — son clave and rumba clave  — can be approached two ways.  In the 3-2 direction often referred to as the 'forward clave' and in the 2-3 direction referred to as 'reverse clave'. In the example presented here the claves play the rumba clave style. The rhythms are written in 2-3 clave.

conga key:    O= Open Tone    S= Open Slap
timbal key:    RH= cowbell    LH= low drum (with stick)    O= Open Tone    M= Muffled Tone




Some excellent resources featuring Manny Oquendo and the mozambique rhythm include:
Eddie Palmieri 
Mambo Con Conga Is Mozambique (Tico SLP-CD-1126) 
Molasses (Tico SLP-CD-1148)

Cal Tjader 
Bamboleate (Charly CD 194) 
El Sonido Nuevo (Verve 314 519 812-2)

Manny Oquendo 
Manny Oquendo On Timbales (Alchemy Pictures - Video)

© Alex Pertout. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission from the author. This article was first published in Drumscene magazine.

© Alex Pertout. All Rights Reserved.