"There is no more vehement nor energetic spirit than Shàngó. When a devotee is mounted by the spirit of Shàngó, he charges three times, head leaning, spinning like a ram, towards the drums. Then he opens his eyes to abnormal width and sticks out his tongue, to symbolize a fiery belch of flames, and raises his thunder-axe on high and clamps his other hand upon his scrotum."

- Fernando Ortiz, Los Bailes y el Teatro de los Negros en el Folklore de Cuba (Havana, 1951, p. 235)

Arsenio Rodríguez was born Ignacio Loyola Rodríguez Scull on 31 August 1913 in the village of Güira de Macurijes in Matanzas (Some sources say 30 August 1911 but he himself had written to the registrar to correct his birth certificate). His family was of Congolese descent, his grandfather having been brought to Cuba as a slave. He was the fourth of 17 kids in a poor family who worked the sugarcane fields. Arsenio studied traditional drumming and percussion. At age 7 he was kicked in the head by a horse which caused the loss of his eyesight. He started writing songs in 1928; in the 30s he moved to Havana to seek work as a musician. In 1937 Casino de la Playa's singer Miguelito Valdés recorded two of his songs: "Bruca manigüá," (TCD003) and "Ben acá tomá." Casino de la Playa recorded four more Arsenio compositions in 1938: "Yo son macuá," [MLN55004] "Fufuñando," [MLN55004] "Yo soy gangá," and "Se va el caramelero." [MLN55004] This last track is also collected on TCD037, and Rodríguez can be heard for the first time on record, playing tres as guest soloist. Valdés and his pianist Anselmo Sacasas moved to the USA in 1940 and were hugely influential, perhaps most notably on Desi Arnaz who modeled his style on Valdés, even adapting his trademark song "Babalu."

From his guest spot with this big band, Rodríguez had the idea of turning the typical sextet into a conjunto by adding a second trumpet and a piano. Later he added a third trumpet and a tumbadora (a big conga drum). In 1940 he made his first recordings under his own name: "El pirulero no vuelve mas," (referring back to his hit "Se va el caramelero") and "Yo 'tá enamorá." This number is described as an afro: an early example of the roots-based music Arsenio introduced to Cuban music from his deep love and study of his Congolese heritage. In 1942 he had a massive hit with "Como traiga la yuca" which the public rebaptised "Dile a Catalina" from the first line.

Arsenio moved to Miami but (not surprisingly) didn't like it; then to New York where he was more at home, and he continued to record sporadically though his groups lacked the cohesion of his conjunto in Havana. The original band broke into two with Chappotín leading one group and the rhythm section regrouping as Conjunto Modelo [TCD-059]. Arsenio was never to return home, and died in obscurity on 30 December 1970 of pneumonia, in Los Angeles, California.

There are out of print albums and many 78s not included in this list, but my aim is to help buyers avoid duplicating material in their collection, so I have focussed on CD reissues. The essential discs are the Tumbao Classics series for the Cuban material. The New York period is well served and some of the TICO reissues (those that are not plagued with bad sound) are also crucial. P-VINE in Japan does a great job of remastering many of the originals.

The CD tracks are listed according to title / style / composer / year recorded & Tumbao catalogue number for duplicates.

Orquesta Casino de la Playa MEMORIES OF CUBA (1937-44)

label: TUMBAO TCD 003
Bruca Manigüá (AR son-pregon 1937 -- an atmospheric big-band arrangement)

Orquesta Casino de la Playa con Miguelito Valdes ADIOS AFRICA

label: TUMBAO TCD 037
Adios Africa (AR son-montuno 1939?)
Como le gusta el chismecito a caridad (AR son-montuno 1939?)
Se va el caramelero (AR son-pregon 1938)
-- Arsenio gets a namecheck for his tres solo on this track: his debut recording

Casino de la Playa canta Miguelito Valdés RUMBA RUMBERO

label: Musica Latina Nostalgia MLN55004
Sound: poor
track 4: Se va el caramelero (AR 1938)
track 11: Fufuñando (AR 1938)
track 18: Yo son macuá (AR 1938)


label: Cubanacan CUCD 1703 1997 published in Colombia, distributed in Puerto Rico
Sound: generally poor, taken from 78s; recorded 1940-8
Liner notes: excellent (Spanish)
The song "Dame un besito" is called a "diablo," one of the Congolese rhythms Arsenio was trying out, but is often credited as the birth of the mambo. The fully evolved 1942 sound of the conjunto cooking along with great interplay is clear on Mercedes Valdés' "Quién sera mi amor?" But it's all here from rootsy percussion on "Todos seguimos la conga" to smoking piano solos by Frias on "El Pirulero no vuelve más" and "Sin te querer" to blasting trumpet by Chappotín on his own number, "Oye como dice."

1. Oye como dice (Félix Chappotín guaracha 1942)
2. El Pirulero no vuelve más (AR pregón 1940)
3. Yo 'tá namorá (AR afro 1940)
4. Corazon de hielo (AR bolero 1941)
5. Todos seguimos la conga (AR 1941)
6. Yo tuve la culpa (AR bolero)
7. No hace ná la mujer (Bienvenido Guiterrez guaracha 1941)
8. Sin tu querer (Pablo Cairo bolero-son 1943)
9. Sandunguera (Luis Piedra+ M Guerra guaracha 1942)
10. Quién será mi amor? (Mercedes Valdés bolero-son 1942 )
11. Quién ama no traiciona (AR bolero-son)
12. No hay yaya sin guayacán (AR son montuno)
13. Los tres Juanes (Bienvenido Guiterrez bolero 1948)
14. Orgullo inútil (Rosendo Ruiz, Jr bolero)
15. Dame un besito (AR son montuno)
16. Finaliza un amor (Raul Diaz bolero)
17. El palo tiene curujey (Pascual Bueno Griñán son montuno)
18. Flor de canela (AR bolero)
19. Por tu bien (Luis Martinez Griñán bolero)
20. Qué susto (AR bolero)

Arsenio seated in the midst of his band in the 1940s.
His brother "Quiqui" sits next to him; on the front right
sits Marcelino Guerra and at the front left "Kako."
Nilo Alfonso, bass (1942) replaced by Lázaro Prieto
Israel Rodríguez "Quiqui", tumbadora (Arsenio's brother)
Miguelito Cuni, vocals & maracas
Pedro Luis Sarracent, vocals and clave
Marcelino Guerra, coro and guitar (ex-Septeto Nacionál de Ignacio Piñeiro)
Antonio Suárez "Papa Kila", bongo
Ruben Calzado, first trumpet
Benitin Bustillo, second trumpet
Adolfito, piano (replaced by Lino Frias)
Arsenio Rodríguez, musical director, tres
personnel changes: Oscar Velasco "Florecita" trumpet
Ruben Gonzalez, piano
Lili Martinez Griñán, piano (1946)
Chappotín, trumpet (1949)
Jacinto Scull, vocals
Alfredo Armenteros "Chocolate", trumpet (1950)

Arsenio's first release under his own name

Between 12 September 1940 and 1 July 1958 Arsenio and his conjunto cut 134 sides for Victor. At least sixty-four 78 RPM discs were released. According to my count only 38 of the songs have been reissued on LP or CD.

Among early recordings on 78 not reissued on CD or LP:
Columbia 30789 (CU 120) Llora timbero (AR)
Columbia 30795 (CU 121) El dulcero de Güines (AR)
Columbia 30794 (CU122) Si volvieras (LF)
Columbia 30790 (CU123) Triste soledad (G. García)
While you are looking for these treasures, be sure to watch out for a copy of Victor V 23-6840, recorded 21 June 1955. It's Harold Arlen's evergreen "Sobre el arco iris (Somewhere over the rainbow)"! See below.


Sound: varied; Liner notes: excellent (2 booklets in Spanish/English)
This is it! The definitive collection of Early Arsenio. See my review on Cuba4 page.

Disc One 1940-4

El Pirulero no vuelve más (Debut recording: 12 Sept 1940) CUCD1703
Yo tá namorá CUCD1703
Corazón de hielo CUCD1703
Yo tuve la culpa CUCD1703
No hace ná la mujer CUCD1703
Todos seguimos la conga CUCD1703
Sediento de amor
Como traigo la yuca HQCD64
Con un solo pie HQCD64
Intranquilidad HQCD64
Sin tu querer CUCD1703
Sandunguera CUCD1703
¡So caballo!
Triste lucha
ñaña seré
A buscar camarón
Pilla con pilla
Oye como dice CUCD1703
Camina a trabajá, aragán
¿Quién será mi amor? CUCD1703
Quien ama no traiciona CUCD1703
Mi chinita me botó
Oye mi consejo
Estás equivocada

Disc Two 1944-6

Mujeres, enamórenme (6 July 1944)
Yo no como corazón de chivo
Tú no eres culpable
Mi Guane
Nadie más que tú
Deuda TCD043
No hay yaya sin guayacán CUCD1703
Ya lo verás
Canta, montero TCD 031
El último amor
Chicharronero TCD 031
Una experiencia más
Dame un cachito pa' huelé TCD 031
El reloj de Pastora TCD 031
Cero guapos en Yateras
Cangrejo fue a estudiar TCD 031
Tengo que olvidarte
Celos de mujer
Juventud Amaliana TCD 031
Semilla de caña brava TCD 031
¿Por qué la trajiste?

Disc Three 1947-9

Mi convicción (10 Jan 1947) TCD 043
Adivínalo TCD 031
Soy el terror
Lo dicen todas
La vida es un sueño TCD 031
El tabernero TCD 043
El Cerro tiene la llave TCD 031
Te esperaré
No vuelvo a Morón
Esa china tiene coimbre TCD 031
Soy tu destino TCD 043
Sacando candela
A Puerto Rico
No toque el guao
Me siento muy solo TCD 043
A Belén le toca ahora TCD 031
Los tres Juanitos CUCD1703
Luna al amanecer
Dame un besito CUCD1703
Orgullo inútil CUCD1703
Lo que dice usted TCD 031
No me llores más TCD 043
En su partir TCD 043
Pueblo Nuevo se pasó TCD 043
Feliz viaje

Disc Four 1949-50

Llévatelo todo TCD 043
Mírame más
Flor del fango
Qué cosas tendrán las mujeres
Me boté de guaño TCD 031
Es mejor olvidarte
El palo tiene Curujey CUCD1703
Finaliza un amor CUCD1703
Los sitios aceré
Sagrado amor
Flor de canela CUCD1703
Dundumbanza TCD 043
Pero yo no sé
Juventud de Colón
Por tu bien CUCD1703
No puedo comer vistagacha TCD 043
Kila, Quique y Chocolate TCD 031
Vuelvo a la vida TCD 043
El rumbón de Luyanó TCD 043
Recuerda aquella noche
El rincón caliente TCD 031
Qué susto CUCD1703
La sandunga del son
Con reciprocidad

Disc Five 1950-1

Ten valor
Con un amor se borra otro amor TCD 043
Juventud de Cayo Hueso TCD 031
Todo terminó
Ta Benito TCD 043
Aquí como allá TCD 031
Te mantengo y no quieres
Cree lo que tú quieras
El que no tiene no vale
Quizás con los años
Me dijo que sí y le dije que no
Falso desprecio
Caminante y laborí
Jamás te perdonaré
Tu faz morena
Amores de verano
Te contaré
Amor en cenizas
Mira ... cuidadito
A Graciela
Mira que soy chambelón

Disc Six 1951-6

Pobre mi Cuba TCD 043
Guaraní TCD 043
Ya se fue
Amor a mi patria
Injusta duda
Mi conuco
Mambo abacuá (New York 16 March 1955)
Mi primer cariño
Acerca el oído
Mambo en la cueva
Me estoy comiendo un cable (NYC 21 June 1955)
Cuba cha-cha-cha
Sobre el arco iris
Lo sabía (Havana, 16 April 1956)
Que negra p'acelerá
Titi, tu kundungo quiere papá
Ayaca de maíz
Graciela, tú lo sabes
Triste lucha
Dame tu yoyo má Belén
Contigo no soy feliz
Casera mire que caña
Adiós roncona
Con flores del matadero

not found:
Me quedé sin ti

con Arsenio Rodríguez y su conjunto 1946-50

label: Tumbao Cuban Classics TCD 031 1993
Sound: generally great
Liner notes: bilingual (average)
Recorded in Havana, 1946-50. You can share the excitement that electrified Cuba in the late 40s on these grooves: sparkling piano from Lili, strong vocals from Arsenio's cousin, René Scull, blasting trumpet counterpoint from Chocolate and Carmelo, and of course masterfully understated solos from Arsenio on tres. The essentials are on this disc. On the classic bolero, "La Vida es un sueño" (composed by Arsenio after he was told by a New York eye specialist that he would never see again), they strive for a big band sound, even adding a glockenspiel solo (Lili?).

1. Dame un cachito pa'huelé (son montuno) AR 1946
2. Chicharronero (son montuno) Luis Martinez 1946
3. Semilla De Caña Brava (son montuno) Luis Martinez 1946
4. Juventud Amaliana (son montuno) AR 1946
5. El Reloj de pastora (son montuno) TCD017 AR 1946
6. Canta, Montero (bolero son) AR 1946
7. Cangrejo fue a estudiar (son montuno) AR 1946
8. Adivínalo 1947 (guaguancó) J.L. Forest 1947
9. Lo que dice usted 1948 (son montuno) Jesus Guerra 1948
10. La Vida es un sueño (bolero) AR 1948
11. El Cerro tiene la llave (guaracha) F Noa 1948
12. Esa China tiene coimbre (son montuno) AR 1948
13. A Belén le toca ahora (guaguancó) AR 1948
14. Me Boté de guaño 1949 (son montuno) A. Armenteros
15. Aquí como allá 1950 (afro-son) AR
16. El Rincon caliente (son montuno) AR 1950
17. Juventud de cayo hueso (guaguancó) AR 1950
18. Kila, Quique y Chocolate (son montuno) AR 1950

Musicians include:

Carmelo Alvarez, trumpet
Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, trumpet
René Scull, vocals
Arsenio Rodríguez, tres
Antolin "Papa Kila" Suárez, bongos
Felix Chappotín, trumpet
Carlos Ramirez, guitar & coro
Felix Alfonso, conga
Lázaro Prieto, bass
Luis "Lili" Martinez, piano
Estella Rodríguez (?), vocals on "Aquí como allá"


(PCD1402 Japan 1990 recorded 1946-50)
1 Dame Un Cachito Pa' Huele; comp: A. Rodriguez-Scull
2 Chicharronero; comp: Luis Martínez
3 El Reloj De Pastora; comp: Rodriguez-Scull
4 Cangrejo Fue A Estudiar; comp: A. Rodriguez-Scull
5 Tengo Que Olvidarte; comp: Jacinto Scull
6 Juventud Amaliana; comp: A. Rodriguez
7 La Vida Es Un Sueño; comp: A. Rodriguez
8 El Cerro Tiene La Llave; comp: Fernando Noa
9 El Tabernero; comp: Rafael Ortiz
10 Me Siento Muy Solo; comp: A. Rodriguez
11 A Belen Le Toca Ahora; comp: A. Rodriguez
12 Lo Que Dice Usted; comp: Jesus Guerra
13 No Me Llores Mas; comp: Luis Martinez Grinan
14 En Su Partir; comp: Jacinto Scull
15 Pueblo Nuevo Se Paso; comp: Luis Martinez Grinan
16 Llevatelo Todo; comp: Luis Martinez Grinan
17 Me Bote De Guano; comp: Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros
18 Los Sitios Hacere; comp: Silvio A. Pino
19 Sagrado Amor; comp: Lazaro Prieto
20 Dundunbanza; comp: A. Rodriguez
21 No Puedo Gomer Vistagacha; comp: A. Rodriguez
22 Kila, Quique Y Chocolate; comp: A. Rodriguez
23 Vuelvo A La Vida; comp: A. Rodriguez
24 El Rumbon De Luyano; comp: Lazaro Prieto
25 Juventud De Cayo Hueso; comp: A. Rodriguez

El Sentimiento de Arsenio
(RCA Victor/Carino DBMI-5802 1974)

Contains 10 tracks from 78s [RCA/P-Vine PCD-1402 1990] 1 No me llores mas (son montuno)
2 No puedo comer vistagacha (son montuno)
3 Dundunbanza (guaguanco)
4 Me siento muy solo (bolero)
5 Lo que dice usted (son montuno)
6 Llevatelo todo (son montuno)
7 Me bote de guaño (son montuno)
8 Vuelvo a la vida (bolero)
9 Kila, Quique y Chocolate (son montuno)
10 La vida es un sueño (bolero)

Note: album with same title and different tracks (& a green cover instead of blue) available for download


(Rice Records UK)
1. Yo 'tá namorá (on Oye como dice...)
2. Corazon de hielo (on Oye como dice...)
3. Oye como dice (on Oye como dice...)
4. El palo tiene curujey (on Oye como dice...)
5. Flor de canela (on Oye como dice...)
6. Dame un cachito pa'huele (TCD-031)
7. El Reloj de pastora (TCD-031)
8. Canta Montero (TCD-031)
9. Juventud Amaliana (TCD-031)
10. Me siento muy solo (TCD-043)
11. Tocoloro (TCD-017)
12. Apurrunenme mujeres (TCD-017)
13. la Vida es un sueño (TCD-031)
14. A Belen le toca ahora (TCD-031)
15. No me llores mas (TCD-043)
16. Pueblo Nuevo se paso (TCD-043)
17. Kila, Quique y Chocolate (TCD-031)
18. Vuelvo a la vida (TCD-043)
19. Ta benito eh (TCD-043)
20. Pobre mi Cuba (TCD-043)
21. La Gente del Bronx (TCD-022)
22. Los guapos en yatera/ la Yuca de Catilina/ El Reloj de Pastora (TCD-017)


Label: Tumbao TCD-043 1994
Sound: fair/good
Liner notes: Max Salazar (English/Spanish)
More essentials, recorded in Cuba, 1946-51, with at least four classics: "Dundunbanza," "No me llores mas," "El tabernero," and "Los sitios hacere."

Dundunbanza (guaguancó) AR 1949
No Me Llores Mas (son montuno) Luis Martinez Griñán 1949
Tengo Que Olvidarte (bolero son) Jacinto Scull 1946
Llevatelo Todo (Son montuno) Luis Martinez Griñán 1949
Vuelvo A La Vida (bolero) AR 1950
Pueblo Nuevo Se Paso (guaguancó) Luis Martinez Griñán 1949
El Tabernero (bolero) Rafael Ortiz 1948
No Puedo Comer Vistagacha (son montuno) AR 1950
Me Siento Muy Solo (bolero) AR 1948
Ta Benito eh (afro) AR 1950
Soy Tu Destino (bolero) Isolina Carillo 1948
Los Sitios Hacere (guaguancó) Silvio A. Pino 1949
Mi Conviccion (bolero) Luis Martinez Griñán 1947
Deuda (bolero-son) Luis Marqueti 1946
El Rumbon De Luyano (guaguancó) Lázaro Prieto 1950
En su partir (bolero) Jacinto Scull 1949
Guaragui (son montuno) AR 1951
Pobre mi Cuba (lamento guajiro) AR 1951
Con un amor se borra otro amor (son montuno) AR 1950

Musicians include:
Felix Chappotín, trumpet
Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, trumpet
Carmelo Alvarez, trumpet
Arsenio Rodríguez, tres
Luis "Lili" Martinez, piano
Carlos Ramirez, guitar & coro
Lázaro Prieto, bass
Felix Alfonso, conga
Antolin Suárez (Papa Kila), bongos
René Scull, vocal
Estela Rodríguez, vocal on "Ta benito, eh"

also Arsenio Rodriguez y su Conjunto, 1947-1948: El Ciego Maravilloso

(Cubanitas CUB-903 1976)
Salsoul CD (1996):
1. Semilla De caña Brava TCD-031
2. Adivínalo TCD-031
3. Aquí como allá TCD-031
4. Mi conviccion TCD-043
5. Canta, Montero TCD-031
6. Esa China tiene coimbre TCD-031
7. Ta Benito eh TCD-043
8. El Rincon caliente TCD-031
9. Soy tu destino TCD-043
10. Deuda TCD-043


(RCA 1992) also Carino DBMi-5803

1. Los Sitios Hacere TCD043
2. Sagrado Amor (also on Los Barrios de Habana)
3. El Rumbon De Luyano TCD043
4. Juventud De Cayo Hueso TCD031
5. En Su Partir TCD017
6. Juventud Amaliana TCD031
7. Pueblo Nuevo De Paso TCD043
8. A Belen Le Toca Ahora TCD031
9. El Cerro Tiene La Llave TCD031
10. El Tabernero TCD043


Musica Latina 55006 1999
Reissue of 46-50 sides, all tracks available on Tumbao reissues. A good selection for those who want one shot of early Arsenio.

1. Chicharronero TCD031
2. Juventad Amaliana TCD031
3. Dame Un Cachito Pa'Huele TCD031
4. Semilla de Caña Brava TCD031
5. El Reloj de Pastora (son montuno) TCD017
6. Canta Montero (bolero son) TCD031
7. Cangrejo Fue a Estudiar (son montuno) TCD031
8. Adivínalo (guaguancó) TCD031
9. Tumba Palo Cucuye TCD017
10. Apurrunenme Mujeres TCD017
11. Tintorera Ya Llego TCD017
12. Yo No Engano a Las Nenas TCD017
13. Tocoloro TCD017
14. Monte Adentro TCD017
15. Lo Que Dice Usted (son montuno) TCD031
16. La Vida es un sueño (bolero) TCD031
17. El Cerro Tiene la Llave (guaracha) TCD031
18. Esa China Tiene Coimbre (son montuno) TCD031
19. Belén le Toca Ahora (guaguancó) TCD031


Orfeon Records (issued 2003); other than the opening cut, most available elsewhere
1. Los Barrios de la Habana
2. Cerro tiene la llave (guaracha) TCD031
3. Juventud de cayo hueso (guaguancó) TCD031
4. Rumbon de Luyano TCD043
5. Belen le toca (guaguancó) TCD031
6. los Sitios asere TCD043
7. Pueblo nuevo TCD017
8. la Vida es un sueño TCD031
9. Tabernero TCD043
10. De una manera espantosa
11. Amor sagrado (also on Todos los barrios)
12. Blanca paloma (also on Sabrosa y caliente)


Chano Pozo & Arsenio Rodríguez with Machito & His Orchestra
Label: Tumbao TCD 017
Sound: OK
Liner notes: OK
The transitional disc that includes Arsenio's first experience of New York as well as his last Havana recordings.

In 1947 Arsenio visited New York to consult eye specialist Dr Ramon Castroviejo & hooked up with his old pal Chano Pozo, an astounding conguero. His story was even more tragic than Arsenio's but he enjoyed a brief moment of glory, performing in New York with Machito's orchestra. He played at Carnegie Hall in Dizzy Gillespie's famous "Afro-Cuban suite," bringing the conga to jazz for the first time. He was shot in a Harlem bar on 2 December 1948. He cut four Afro-Cuban drumming sides on the Coda label and recorded with a small splinter group of Machito's band that included young Puerto Rican vocalist Tito Rodríguez. Arsenio was guest on tres, and also contributed original tunes to the session.*

Tracks 7 to 12 were recorded in La Habana February and July 1948. They are the last recordings of the Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez that feature "Lili" Martinez on piano, Carlos Ramirez (guitar & coro), Rafael Corbacho (1st trumpet), Felix Chappotín and Ruben Calzado (trumpets), Felix Alonso (conga), Lázaro Prieto (bass), and Antolin Suárez (bongos). Chappotín formed one band and the rest of the group (the rhythm section) reformed as Conjunto Modelo.

Tracks 13 to 16 were recordings made in New York with his new conjunto after Arsenio relocated in the US. He brought cousin René Scull with him.
1. Serende Pozo 1947 Chano Pozo y su conjunto con el mago del tres (Arsenio Rodríguez)
2. Seven Seven Pozo 1947 Chano Pozo y su conjunto con el mago del tres (Arsenio Rodríguez)
3. Rumba En Swing Pozo 1947 Machito's orchestra with singer Tito Rodríguez
4. Porque Tu Sufres Pozo 1947 Machito's orchestra with singer Tito Rodríguez
5. Cometelo To' Pozo 1947 Machito's orchestra with singer Tito Rodríguez
6. Paso En Tampa AR 1947 Machito's orchestra with singer Tito Rodríguez
7. Tumba palo cucuye AR 1948 Havana Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
8. Apurrunenme mujeres AR 1948 Havana Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
9. Tintorera ya llego AR 1948 Havana Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
10. Yo no engano a las nenas AR 1948 Havana Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
11. Tocoloro AR 1948 Havana Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
12. Monte adentro AR 1948 Havana Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
13. Cumayé/ Semilla de caña brava/ So caballo AR 1953 NYC
14. Los Guapos en yatera/ La Yuca de Catalina/ El Reloj de pastora AR 1953 NYC
15. No vuelvo a moron/ Las Tres Marias/ Apurrunenme mujeres AR 1953 NYC
16. Que caña/ Mi China me boto/ Cangrejo fue a estudiar AR 1953 NYC
*Note: Another scorching 1947 son montuno by Chano Pozo y su Conjunto con el Mago del Tres (Arsenio Rodríguez) "Sácale brillo as piso Teresa," composed by Arsenio, is found in the Chano Pozo box set EL TAMBOR DE CUBA (TCD307) Disc 2 track 26. The box also includes the first six tracks from this set. Detailed liner notes.
also tracks 13 to 16 (medley of 12 tracks) a reissue of

Estrellas del Ritmo

Pro-Arte presente Montunos Cubanos (Cuban Off-Beat) The Music of Arsenio Rodriguez
Label: SMC-508 10" (credited to "Estrellas del Ritmo" because of RCA contract) near left: green cover reissue

also Arsenio Rodriguez: Legends of Afro-Cuban Music

SMC Pro-Arte SMC-1152 (Arsenio & Chano Pozo) brown cover discoteca selecta

also ARSENIO Rodríguez con su conjunto y Chano Pozo, Machito & Orchestra

(Musica Latina Nostalgia MLN 55019):
all available on two Tumbao issues.
1. Serende TCD017
2. Seven Seven TCD017
3. Rumba En Swing TCD017
4. Porque Tu Sufres TCD017
5. Cometelo To' TCD017
6. Paso En Tampa TCD017
7. El Tabernero TCD043
8. Me Siento Muy Solo TCD043
9. Dundunbanza TCD043
10. No Me Llores Mas TCD043
11. Tengo Que Olvidarte TCD043
12. Pueblo Nuevo Se Paso TCD043
13. Llevatelo Todo TCD043
14. Los Sitios Hacere TCD043
15. Soy Tu Destino TCD043
16. Mi conviccion TCD043
17. Deuda TCD043
18. En Su Partir TCD017


(recorded NYC, 1952 for Peer International label)
CD (Seeco 9352) Reissued 1998
sound: Good
liner notes: Spanish, brief
Smooth, almost bland offering, with the exception of "El Dolorcito De Mi China" & "Cambia el paso" which still have the fire of early Arsenio, and they do wake up for the last cut which has wild piano.

Si me voy (Bolero) Israel Rodríguez
No quiero (Son Capetilio) Israel Rodríguez
Besarte qui siera (Bolero Ritmico) Arsenio Rodríguez Scull
Se Formo el bochinche (Son Montuno) Israel Rodríguez
Solo fué un sueño (Bolero) Felipe Goyco "Don Felo"
El dolorcito de mi china (Son Capetillo) Israel Rodríguez
Hipocresia (Bolero) Israel Rodríguez
Cambia el paso (Son Capetillo) Israel Rodríguez
Vive en el recuerdo (Bolero) Arsenio Rodríguez Scull
Juegame limpio (Son Capetillo) Arsenio Rodríguez Scull

Musicians include:
Arsenio Rodríguez, tres
René Scull, vocals
Israel Rodríguez, tumbadora
Manolo, vocals
Candido Antomattei, vocals
Olano, vocals
René Hernández, piano
Mario Cora, trumpet
Lázaro Prieto, bass

reissued in 1958 as

Exitos de Arsenio Rodríguez y su conjunto

Label: Seeco/Tropical TRLP-5005; reissue on CD: SCCD-7352 (1998).
with the addition of two tracks:
Se ama una vez AR
Ya voló

also SONEROS vol 2: La tradicion de Cuba

label: Edenways CD EDE-1053 1997
Liner Notes: French, history of "El Son"
Sound: not as good as on the preceding SEECO rerelease
1. Se Formo El Bochinche
2. El Dolorsito De Mi China
3. Solo Fue Un sueño
4. Besarte Quisiera
5. Cambia El Paso
[tracks 6-14 by Bimbi]


label: Tumbao TCD-022 1992
Sound: thin
Liner notes: thinner
More great sides, recorded in New York City, 1953, originally on TICO label. All composed by Arsenio. Vocals by René Scull and Cándido Antomattei, with (probably) René Hernández on piano, Lázaro Prieto on bass and Israel Rodríguez on conga. "Swing y son" quotes Glenn Miller's "In the mood" -- still a hit almost a decade after it was recorded. Worth having all 16 tracks as opposed to the ten on Tico's EL GIGANTE reissue.

Esclavo triste
La Gente del Bronx
Meta y guaguancó
Pa que Gocen
Esas no
Como Se Goza en el Barrio
Yo Soy Chambelon
Arpegio por Arsenio
Oiga mi guaguancó
Se Va La Comparsa
Swing y Son
Maye Santa
Oye Mi Cantar
Ahora Carpetillo

First 8 tracks taken from


green check cover [left]
Label: TICO 135 10"



1. La Gente del Bronx
2. Jaguey
3. Como Se Goza en el Barrio
4. Meta y guaguancó
5. Mulence
6. Swing y Song
7. Yo Soy Chambelon
8. Arpegio por Arsenio
9. Maye Santa
10. Oiga Mi guaguancó
11. Mulence [bonus track]
12. Oiga mi guaguancó [bonus track]

Note: the two bonus tracks are performed by Ismael Miranda from Arsenio tribute albums, all others are found on TCD022. Even the cover is a rip-off of the artwork for Tumbao's DUNDUNBANZA. However, Tico was the original issuer of this album.


Arsenio Rodríguez: Legends Of Cuban Music

(NC 5032), Released 2001
Another compilation drawn from the four main Tumbao releases, covering many classics.
El Reloj De Pastora (son montuno) TCD017 or ALP-1337
Juventud Amaliana TCD031
Dame Un Cachito Pa'huele TCD031
Canta Montero (bolero son) TCD031
Cangrejo fue a estudiar (son montuno) TCD031
Pueblo nuevo se paso TCD017
Dundumbanza TCD-043
No me llores mas TCD-043
Llevatelo todo TCD-043
Vuelvo a la Vida TCD-043
La Gente del Bronx TCD-022
Yo soy chambelon TCD-022
Arpegio por Arsenio TCD-022
Mulence TCD-022
Maye Santa TCD-022
Chicharronero TCD-031
Adivínalo (guaguancó) TCD031
El Cerro tiene la llave (guaracha) TCD031
Meta y guaguancó TCD-022
Oiga mi guaguancó TCD-022
Como se goza en el barrio TCD-022

Cuban Classics Vol. XIII: Arsenio Rodríguez, Chano Pozo, Estrellas Juveniles

Label: CD (WS Latino 4218), Released 2001;
Sound: Good
Liner notes: None
The four tracks by Arsenio were recorded 2 April 53 and are not collected elsewhere. They are all great, and Chappotín and Lili are outstanding. "Pobre Chinito" is cartoon Chinoiserie. Vocals are credited to Manolo Morales, Candido Antomattei and Olano. Terrible sound on the Chano Pozo sides.
Que Me Mande La Niña - Arsenio Rodríguez
Pimienta - Arsenio Rodríguez
Pobre Chinita - Arsenio Rodríguez
Baila Simón - Arsenio Rodríguez
Pin Pin - Chano Pozo
Tu Gallo María - Chano Pozo
Tierra Colora - Chano Pozo
Ave María Morena - Chano Pozo
Nadie Más Que Tú - Estrellas Juveniles
Como Aprieta Mi Chiquita - Estrellas Juveniles
Juntemos Nuestras Vidas - Estrellas Juveniles
El Viandero Rico - Estrellas Juveniles


Incredibly scarce 10-inch album. According to a comment on discogs:
"This record is literally impossible to find, if someone is interested in the music on it, more than in the record itself, there is a great quality compilation by Grosso Records pressed from original Seeco master. Only song missing on that record is "Se Formó El Bochinche" which can be found on Tropical record Exitos De Arsenio Rodriguez Y Su Conjunto" See also 1952 SEECO album above for some of the same material recorded in 1952.

A1 Cambia El Paso (Israel Rodriguez)
A2 Se Formo El Bochinche (Israel Rodriguez)
A3 Baila Simon (Israel Rodriguez)
A4 Pimienta (Israel Rodriguez)
B1 No Quiero (Israel Rodriguez)
B2 Que Me Mando La Nina (Israel Rodriguez)
B3 Pobre Chinito (Israel Rodriguez)
B4 Juegame Limpio (Arsenio Rodriguez)


(ANTILLA CD-586) also P-Vine PCD-2141
Sound: Very bad sound on the CD, as on the original vinyl. A shame considering the strength of the material.
Liner notes: None
Outstanding tracks: "Blanca paloma" and "Mami me gusto" written (like most of the album) by Lucia Martinez.
1. Carraguao Alante (L. Martinez)
2. Hay Fuego en el 23 (L. Martinez)
3. Buenavista en Guaguancó (Lucia Martinez)
4. Devuelveme la Ilusion (L. Martinez)
5. Adorenla Como a Marti (AR)
6. Homenaje Esta Hablando Bien (AR)
7. Blanca Paloma (Lucia Martinez)
8. Mami Me Gusto (Lucia Martinez)
9. Que Feliz Yo Fuera (AR)
10. Besame Aqui (AR)
11. Fonda de Bienvenido (B.J. Gutierrez)
12. Recuerda Bien (Lucia Martinez)

some duplicated on

Arsenio Rodríguez

Label: Discmedi Records/ ARTEX Canada CD-066 1993
Notes: good notes in Spanish by Zola Gomez García
Sound: Mostly good
The extraneous material, particularly by Irakere, is unnecessary but helps demonstrate the breadth of Arsenio's influence.
1. Preludio a Catalina (Performed by CHUCHO VALDES)
2. Dile a Catalina (Performed by IRAKERE)
3. Buenavista en guaguancó (ANTILLA CD-586)
4. Fiesta en el solar (Primitivo)
5. Juventud Amaliana TCD031
6. Recuerda bien (ANTILLA CD-586)
7. De una manera espantosa (Performed by IRAKERE)
8. Frutas del caney (Ansonia HGCD1337)
9. Blanca paloma (ANTILLA CD-586)
10. Que feliz yo fuera (ANTILLA CD-586)
11. Besame aqui (ANTILLA CD-586)
12. Mami me gusto (ANTILLA CD-586)
13. Hachero pa' un palo (Performed by MANGARE)

also Boogaloo con los Tres Grandes

Label: LP Puchito MLP-609 (Antilla 609)
Includes the orquestas of Arsenio, Chappotín & Melodias del 40.
The Arsenio tracks are
Carraguao alante
Blanca Paloma
Mami me gusto

also "Carraguao Alante" on

Habana Club: A Cuban Jam Session

Sabu Martinez

Label: Blue Note LP 1561 1957. Reissued by Toshiba-EMI in their series of Blue Note facsimiles in the 1990s.
(CD: Blue Note 22665) Reissued 2000
Sound: Great
Liner notes: Detailed, in English by Hsio Wen Shih
An almost purely traditional Afro-Cuban album with Arsenio cutting loose on "Rhapsodia del maravilloso." There are many legends about this album. One is that Sabu (who had played with Diz, Bird, Monk and others) was asked to do a Latin jazz date but none of the "jazz" musicians showed so they went ahead and did a roots album with the rhythm section of Arsenio's band: his bassist Evaristo Baro and his wife Sarah and Willie Capo who also sang with Arsenio, along with Arsenio's brothers Caesar and Quique on congas. The only other person at the date, Mosquito, knew Sabu and Arsenio through the Miguelito Valdés connection. Another story has it that Blue Note deleted the album early on because of poor sales and it disappeared, one copy changing hands for $300 at one point.
Side A:
El Cumbanchero
Billumba-Palo Congo
Side B:
Rhapsodia del maravilloso
Aggo Elegua
Tribilin cantore
"Sabu" L. Martinez, conga, bongo and vocals
Arsenio Rodríguez, conga, tres, and vocal
Raul "Caesar" Travieso, conga and vocal
Israel Moises "Quique" Travieso, conga
Ray "Mosquito" Romero, conga
Evaristo Baro, bass
Willie Capo, vocal
Sarah Baro, vocal

CUMBANCHANDO con Arsenio (Fiesta en Harlem)

side A:
1. Son Pachanga (pachanga)/ Emilio Dolores (plena)
2. La Vida es un sueño (bolero)
3. Luis Cora (Son montuno)/ Yo naci del Africa (guaracha)
4. Corriendo fortuna (rumba)
side B:
5. Cumbancha mama (son pachanga)/ La Tina de Maria Elena (merengue)
6. Habla corazon (bolero)
7. Cruel destino (son)/Lo dicen todas (son montuno)
8. Guaguancó en el remeneo (rumba guaguancó)
Arsenio Rodríguez, tres, vocal, quinto
Jackson, bass
Rosalia Montalvo, vocals on the boleros
Sabu Martinez, Raul, Pedrito, Sufron, Berrios and Israel Moises "Quique" Travieso, congas and percussion

Note: a poorly remastered bootleg CD comes up regularly on EBay. Remastered downloads available on line with 12 tracks


Orig: ROOST LP2261 1963; Reissued: Blues Interactions (Japan) PCD-4729 1995; also TICO 1407
Produced by Teddy Reig
Sound: excellent
Liner notes: English/Spanish/Japanese by Pancho Cristal (fanciful, non-specific)
A brilliant album from beginning to end. Arsenio in top form with Monguito on lead vocals (in his US debut). There's a burst of flamenco on "Coplas De España" and plenty of fiery playing, but sit back for the breathtakingly beautiful and spare "Fiesta En El Solar." All compositions by Arsenio except "Lo Que Dice Justi" by Justi Barreto.
La Pasion
Me Engañastes Juana
Lo Que Dice Justi
Rumba Guajira
Coplas De España
Que Mala Suerte
Fiesta en el Solar
Me Equivoque Contigo
A Gozar Mujeres
No Lo Niegues
El Lema del guaguancó
Guaguancó de Puerta De Tierra

QUINDEMBO Arsenio and his Afro Magic
aka Arsenio Rodriguez y su Magia: La Musica Afro Cubana

label: Epic BN26072 (CBS/Caliente CLT-7049; 1973)


Label: Sony Tropical (CDL-81534) 1995
Liner notes: Spanish/English
Sound: Decent
On this outing Arsenio has two saxes to create a smooth counterpoint to his brittle explorations on "Bruca manigüá." All compositions by AR. With acoustic bass, congas and percussion, it is a very spare album, and Arsenio sings scat in his pidgin African style. Parts might even remind you of Ethiopian jazz!
1. Canto Abacoa
2. Bruca manigüá
3. Baila Simbale
4. Hun Hun
5. Oracion Lucumi
6. Compay Cimarron
7. Teenagers Bailan Changui
8. Albanciosa
9. Torongombe Ya Cayo
10. Yimbila
11. Mona
12. Quindembo Hot


Label: TICO RSLP 1092 CD: 1999
producer: George Goldner
total time: 27 mins
Sound: Good
Liner notes: worthless
Turning his back on the attempts to have a hit, Arsenio returns to Afro-Cuban ritual and calls on Chango, God of Thunder.

1. Que Te Parece Juana
2. Chango Pachanga
3. Toma Cognac
4. Tu Estas en el Swing Mami
5. Pachanga Time
6. Sacale Brillo Al Piso
7. Que Mal es Querer
8. Te Vuelve en Dengue
9. Un Cachito Pa Mi
10. Parece Bobo
11. Porfiando El Gallo Muere


Label: Ansonia (ALP-1337) vol 1*
El Reloj De Pastora (son montuno)
No Importa La Distancia
Yambu En Serenata
Comprendo Que Sufres
Linda Cubana
Hachero Pa' Un Palo
El Divorcio
Frutas Del Caney
Santa Cecilia
Sabor De Pachanga
Errante Y Bohemio
Pucho Marquez

volume 2

cantan: Marcelino Guerra - Ceron - Berrios
Label: Ansonia (SALP-1418) reissue: 1999; also Bomba BOM-3001
Necesito Una Mujer Cocinera (son montuno)
Quién Soy (cha cha chá)
Papa Upa (son montuno)
Maldita Droga (bolero)
Jugando Al Silo (montuno boogaloo)
Cuba Llora (lamento guajiro)
Sueltala (son montuno)
Lo Que Le Paso A Luisita (guaguancó)
La Realidad (cha cha chá)
Quiero Mucho A Mi Suegra (son montuno)
No He Visto A Caridad (son montuno)
Adios Carmelina (montuno oriental)

*CD Reissue: both albums compiled on Ansonia HGCD1337 -- a poorly remastered CD from a dropped needle. I have the vinyl of vol 2 and it is much more dynamic, if scratchy.

also Recuerdos De Arsenio

Reissue of Ansonia ALP-1337 (vol 1); also found on Ansonia HGCD1337

also 24 Exitos Originales

(Edenways) reissue of both

Arsenio Rodríguez And the Afro-Cubano Sound of Now

Label: BANG LP 216 (1966) Canada also SONY JAPAN CD
also EMI/Odeon MT-1152
(also Atlantic)

Side one:
Hang on Sloopy
La Yuca
Baila Con Migo
Manisero y Marta
Que No Llegue La Noche y La Pared
La Bamba
Side two:
Tres Marias
Cielito Lindo
Para Baila El Montuno
El Elemento Del Bronx
Vaya P'al Monte

Candido Antomattei
Candido con Arsenio Rodríguez y Estrellas

CD (Faisan 512), Reissued 1995
Sound: poor
A showcase for Candido who sang coro and played guitar with Arsenio since his Havana days. Recorded in Puerto Rico, New York & Havana. Arsenio is not on all tracks.

"Bruca manigüá," AR (TCD003)
La Tumba Brava by Lili Martinez Grinan
Hay Fuego En El 23 AR (Sabroso y caliente)
Anabacoa by J. Ramirez (TCD-031)
Sigue Asi Tu Destino by R. Seijo
Tumba Y Bongo AR
No Se Si Ahora by Candido
El Lechoncito by Candido

Musicians include:
Arsenio Rodríguez, Tres
René Hernández, Piano
Adalberto Santiago, Vocal
Yayo "El Indio," Vocal
Miguelito Quintana, Vocal
Guito Kotright, Vocal
Manolo Morales, Vocal
German Llobrat, Vocal
Juancito Torres, Trompeta
Chocolate Armenteros, Trompeta
A. Camacho, Trompeta
Tomas Rodríguez, Trompeta
Polito Huerta, Bass
Jose "Buyu" Mangual, Bongoes
Martin Quiñones, Conga
Patato Valdés, Conga
Luis Quevedo, Piano
Tito García, Tres
Manolin Goicuria, Tres
Candido Antomattei, Vocal


Label: Verve V/V6-5037
Producers: Teddy Reid & Pete Spargo
sound: Excellent
Liner notes: Detailed discussion of Santeria and the Yoruba Lucumi cult, but including this statement: "The sound accompanying a number of these songs, like an old out-of-tune piano is not a piano at all, but the Tres Guitar played skillfully by the master musician, Arsenio Rodriguez." On "Nuestro barrio," Totico quotes "Los sitios hacere" but Arsenio is a bit tentative and it is almost like he is being coaxed into soloing. On "Agua de la caer" Arsenio quotes Miguel Matamoros' "El Huerfanito."

Mas que nada
Ya yo e
Ingrato corazon
Que linda va
Nuestro barrio
Side Two:
Agua que la caer
En el callejon
Caridad malda
Rezo abacua
Dilo como yo

Carlos "Patato" Valdés, conga, percussion
Eugenio "Totico" Arango, Vocal
Arsenio Rodríguez, Tres
Israel "Cachao" Lopez, Bass
Papaito, Sticks
Francisco "Panchin" Valdez, Sticks
Hector Cadavieco, Vocal
Mario Cadavieco, Vocal
Juan "Curba" Dreke, Vocal
Tony Mayari, Vocal
Virgilio Marti, Vocal


producer: Pancho Cristal
Label: TICO SLP 1175 1998
Sound: good
Liner notes: worthless
His final release. Consistently great. Apart from the occasional lapses into rock and roll, Arsenio had a pure sound which, sadly for him, was 20 years ahead of Latin music in general. After his death Larry Harlow, Ismael Miranda, Fania All-stars and others did tribute albums, but nothing compares to the originals.

1. Mi Corazon No Tiene Quién lo llore
2. Menos Que Cenizas
3. Esto Es Yambu
4. Pasion Extraña
5. Ven Mi Mora
6. Kiko Medina
7. Daddy Give Me Candy
8. Orgullesida
9. La Verdad
10. Quiéndembo Jazz

There is also a Japanese double CD set of "Arsenio Dice" and "La Pachanga." (P-VINE PCD2707)


Mano a Mano - Arsenio y Arcaño

(LP: Cariño DBMI 5800)

A1 Tengo Que Olvidarte
A2 Dame Un Cachito Pa' Huele'
A3 Chicharronero
A4 El Reloj De Pastora
A5 Cangrejo Fue A Estudiar
B1 Arriba La Invasion
B2 Ritmo Alegre
B3 Los Chicos Buenos
B4 Atomo Musical
B5 Jovenes De La Defensa

Released in 1974. Contains 5 numbers from each (Arsenio on Side A), taken from RCA 78s. Also EGREM 1993. The Arsenio tracks are all available on Tumbao releases.

(2013 by TheFeelinClub)

1 Mambo en la Cueva (Mambo) by Conjunto Arsenio Rodríguez
2 Semilla de Caña Brava (Son Montuno) by René Scull
3 Deuda (Bolero) by René Scull
4 No Toque el Güao (Son Montuno) by Conjunto Arsenio Rodríguez
5 Amores de Verano (Guaguancó) by Miguelito Cuni
6 Te Contaré (Bolero) by Conjunto Arsenio Rodríguez
7 Présteme el Cubo (Son Capetillo) by Sara
8 Qué Habrá Pasado (Bolero) by Conjunto Arsenio Rodríguez
9 Tití Tu Kundungo Quiere Papa (Cha Cha Chá) by Estela Rodríguez
10 Qué Cosa Tendrán las Mujeres (Out Take) (Son Montuno) by René Scull
11 Acerca el Oído (Bolero) by Conjunto Arsenio Rodríguez
12 Baila Simón (Son Montuno) by Conjunto Arsenio Rodríguez
13 Por Tu Bien (Bolero) by René Scull
14 La Vida Es un Sueño (Bolero) by René Scull
15 Timbilla (Rumba de Cajón) by René Scull
16 Yo No Engaño a las Nenas (Son Montuno) by René Scull

1951 recordings reissued in public domain


(MSCD7068) Spanish reissue


Further listening:

"Tres señores del son Miguelito Cuni - Felix Chappotín - Luis Martinez Griñán (Lili)" EGREM Cuba 1992

Cuni con Chappotín sus estrellas "Musicalidad en sepia" Orig: Maype; CD reissue: P-Vine Japan PCD2229 1990

Chappotín y su conjunto "Coleccion de diamante vol 2" (DC Productions, France DC 9202 CD)

Conjunto Modelo (canta Miguelito Cuni) "Guaguancó en la Habana" Tumbao TCD-059 (recorded in Havana 1953-4)

Orquesta Sierra Maestra "Dundunbanza" (World Circuit WCD041 1994) Fabulous tribute to Arsenio album

Sources: Ortiz quote (epigraph) quoted in Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit
Detailed discographies, including 78s, on website
Liner notes to OYE COMO DICE... by "C.D."
Additions and corrections welcome: contact(at-sign)muzikifan(dot)com
Original content of this page Copyright 2006-21 by Alastair Johnston
Last update 15 August 2021