Re: Phil Maturano here!
Great post there and great suggestions. We had Los Muñequitos out here a couple of years back and spawned a folkloric Afro-Cuban group out of that experience. We learned a bunch of Orisha songs and rhythms from John Amira, and had a Djembe Fola from Guinea out here during that whole time, which opened a bunch of doors for our small drum community. All of that exposure to the connection between Ifa religion and Cuba really helped me approach it with a lot of respect. It's taken me a long time to appreciate the music in a secular sense and we always had a hard time straddling that line. A couple of guys didn't want to bring the Bata into bars, so we really kept that more to ourselves.
The biggest thing that came out of that experience for my playing was respecting the boundlessness of the African concept. There is no one for those guys, and everything is completely open within the context of specific rhythms. 4/4 6/8 etc... That just didn't exist to them, it was completely limitless.
Also I worked out of that book "Timbafunk", by Michael Spiro etc... and was wondering if you might give us a brief description in your own words on the Timba concept.
Also, Milton Cardona's album "Cambucha" has some great Bata, Bembe, Orisha stuff in it for anyone who hasn't heard it.
Okay sorry that was a rambler...