In I think it was 1948 or 49, I heard Dizzy Gillespie's big band live. At that time Chano Pozo was in the group playing conga and singing. I naturally spoke to him in Spanish and asked him why he was playing in this group. I asked because he was already a famous Cuban musician and a well known composer there. He full name was Luciano Pozo Gonzalez, Dizzy took the diminutive of Luciano, Chano, and that's how he was known. He performed an exotic role in the group playng conga solo and singing in Spanish and Yoruba, in short playing a part that Dizzy needed. He said that he was in the band because they paid him well. I asked him about his composition, Manteca and what it meant beyond basically meaning lard. He said that it was named for a drummer in Cuba.

Years later I met a Cuban woman who had studied with Manteca in Cuba. He once told her when she was trying to play timbales, " Tu tienes siete gachupines sentado en el hombro!" Sometime in the 60's I think I picked up an Lp titled, Ritmo, Sabor, Manteca, a set of mostly timbales solos with some rhythm accompaniment.

Although Dizzy's Manteca is historically well established as one of the classic of 40's Jazz, rarely is mention made of Manteca, the original inspiration for the piece. The famous drummer, Manteca's full name is José Rivera Chávez. I happily thought with certainty that the Lp I had in my collection was by the one and the same Manteca. It turns out however, that in the 50's or 60's another timbalero appeared who took the name Manteca to himself. His name is Lazaro Plá.

Dspite my dissappointment at not having a recording of the original Manteca, this record by the 2nd Manteca is an excellent example of long drawn out timbal solos and so worth sharing here.




1. Rumbón en la casa Cando

2. Afro Funky

3. Sabor a mantecado

4. Abacua

5. Son Montuno

6. Cosas de Manteca

7. Gozando Timbal



Robert Garfias