Tata Guines

Biography

Tata Guines was the rhythmic heart of so many songs he sometimes seemed ubiquitous. Guines was born Aristides Soto Alejo in Guines, Cuba in 1930. By the 1940s he was playing bass and percussion in whatever local band would have him, while supplementing his meager income by working as a shoemaker by day. In the 1950s he made his way to the United States, where he quickly hooked up with many of the major artists of the day, including Josephine Baker, Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. Despite the putative success, Guines was disgusted by his experiences of racial segregation in the U.S., and he returned to Cuba after the revolution. (He became a financial supporter of the new regime, using his foreign earnings to make sizable donations to the state.) In his long career, Guines released just a handful of solo albums, but he played on innumerable works by major artists like Cachao, Jesus Alemany's Cubanismo! and Maraca, among many others. In the last years of his life, he appeared on several Grammy-nominated albums, including Bebo y Cigala's Lagrimas Negras, Jane Bunnett's Cuban Odyssey, and La Rumba Soy Yo. He also appeared on some Latin pop and world music albums, notably Cesaria Evora's Cafe Atlantico and Alejandro Sanz's El Tren de los Momentos. In February, 2008, Guines died of kidney failure. He was 77 years old.
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