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Date or Sequence
Narrative including Bands &
Personnel and Musical Influences

In late 1959, I moved to Berkeley for my second year of college at UCB (University of California, Berkeley). Cal Tjader was based in S.F. and his appearance on a UCB recruiting 45 r.p.m. record greatly influenced my decision to go to UCB. Within a few months, I began to play congas (I used my tunable Tom Wofford conga and the "electrically heated" conga my buddy had made for me in H.S.) in a "real" Latin band "Los Locos del Ritmo" usually known as "Los Locos". The band played a couple of years (sometimes, in the early days, for beer and peanuts!) at several bars (Nods, Northgate Cafe, La Vals) and fraternity/sorority and private parties in Berkeley, Oakland, S.F. (Circulo Pan-Americano where I ate my first empanadas!), and the east county (Lafayette Inn, see poster). Los Locos never rehearsed! No charts, it was always a jam session led by whatever the the band suggested and piano played. Within a year of starting with Los Locos, I got my second tunable Tom Wofford conga to replace the "electrically heated" conga.

Me on 1960/12/00
(would have been after Christmas) leaving
for Berkeley, CA from home (El Segundo, CA)).

2000/04/26: while reading Steven Loza's "Tito Puente and the Making of Latin Music", I was reminded of some of the tunes we played in the groups Los Locos, The Latin Jazz Quintet, Guy Hoffman's Latins, and Cesar's Men in addition to the recordings below: Anna (a baion), Que sera mi china (Que sera), Oye como va, Mambo diablo, Cuban Fantasy, Manteca, Night in Tunisia, Tea for Two, El Latigo, El Cumbanchero, Tumbando caña, and more to be added as I recall them.

1999/02/00: Cesar just reminded me that we also played at Zack's in Sausalito quite a bit.

The original Los Locos were the ones who gave me my Latin nickname, "Califa", not meaning "from California" as many Latinos seem to think but referring to a ruler in the old Middle East, a Calif or Kalif, you know one of those guys with a harem! Based upon the fact that I had two young ladies renting a room from me; one of the ladies was Juanita Oribello (see 1964/05/30 below). I drove to and from the jobs (even to Pierre's, see below) on my Vespa motor scooter with my two congas in duffle bags tied over the "Vespa bubbles", rain or shine, and once with Delmar Neely (see LJQ below) and his upright bass as passengers; the bass peg sat in the back rack with Delmar's belt like a lasso around the neck! See above photos.

Los Locos: Cesar Ascarrunz (Bolivia), leader, piano, vocals; Jaime "Flaco" Lizarraga (Peru), started out using a gut-bucket for bass and later switched to bass, vocals; Guy Hoffmann (Peru), timbales, vocals; yours truly (Ft. Wayne, Indiana), congas, vocals(ha!); sometimes Rudi Petschek (Argentina), bongos, vocals (Rudi had been the original conga player for Los Locos but when I started to play he switched to bongos); Tito Boas (Peru), quiro, vocals; and, occasionally, other Latin friends on maracas, vocals, etc. All were from South America except for me!

Posters for Los Locos were done by Joyce Zavaleta (una gringa).

L-R: ?, trumpet; Guy Hoffman, timbales; Jaime 'Flaco' Lizzarraga; Rudi Petschek, bongos; Cesar Ascarrunz, piano; Dennis 'Califa' Reed, congas;

2008/12/00: I received a couple of phone calls from Joyce who has been living in Africa for about 30 years! We discussed the "good" old days.

 Influencial LPs:
  • George Shearing - several LPs
  • Machito Jazz with Flip + Bird - Machito (the 10" LP is rare but I found a reissued CD in 1998 with some of the tunes, my preferred version is on the LP)
  • "Mambos" - Charlie Palmieri
  • "The Heart of Cuba" - Orquestra Nuevo Ritmo 
  • "Mambo Mucho Mambo" - Machito, Xavier Cugat, Belmonte (for some reason, "Fred's Mambo Samba", a kind of corny tune, really turned me on and I could hardly wait to play timbales because of this tune!)

+++LP (scratchy poor quality) dated 04/61 (contacted Rudi Petschek 1998/06/02, and two days later, I received two reel-to-reel tapes (quality good, volume low!) and the negatives for the photos of Celia Cruz (see 1970/00/02 below)). I plan on taking the reel-to-reels to a studio to see if they can make me a stronger copy.


Anecdote: Just before Los Locos began to work at Pierre's, we were required to join the Musicians Union. I remember the proficiency test: I was very nervous that I might not pass, i.e., be good enough to be a "professional" musician; I carried my congas to the test room and set them up (sweating bullets the whole time). An old man came into the room and sat down. He looked at me and said "What are those things?" I knew I had it made! I played a few patterns, paid my admission fee, and got my card!

The whole time I was in the Union (6 or 7 years, at least), I only got one job based upon someone finding my name in the Musicians Directory!

The leader had found my nickname "Califa" under congas. He asked me to attend a one time rehearsal for a nation-wide telethon. When I got there he appeared shocked, it was a black telethon, and the whole band was black. I was not what he had expected with a name like "Califa" but I rehearsed a few tunes and got the job!


During this time, I also played congas with the "Latin Jazz Quintet", around S.F., Berkeley, Sausalito (Bridgeway Inn?), and Oakland. The band (all black except for me!) played Tjader and Shearing style Latin jazz plus some more authentic Latin including Puente, Rene Touzet, etc., tunes. One of the more interesting jobs was at a "Black and Tan Ball" in S.F. I was probably one of two or three white folks in a crowd of 2000-3000 people! And there I was playing congas! The folks up front were having a good time and enjoyed what I was doing but when I needed a pit stop at the back of the hall, where no one could see me playing, the band insisted on accompanying me for my safety!

One night on the way to a job, at my suggestion, based upon what I had heard on "Bucabu" by Machito (see above for audio links for two versions), we did a very nice vocal only version of one of our tunes which was very tasty and this was before Vocal Sampling!

Latin Jazz Quintet + One (L-R: Joyce Zavaleta sitting in on bongos, Califa (congas), Carol Vorhes (piano), Ulysses "Sonny" Crockett (vibes), Delmar Neely (bass), ? (timbales not seen). Probably at a fraternity in Berkeley.

Delmar Neely, early 1960s - photo received from Zeno (Myron Ort) on 2011/05/30

Anecdote: Several years later, when I got my first drum set, I ran into James Levy and asked him for a few pointers. He took me "under his wing" for a while showing me a few licks, taking me to some of his Whispers jobs and even got me (on congas) on a recording sessions with the Whispers! Later when I asked him why he had spent the time helping me with drums, he replied that he and several of his black friends (who later became very good conga players) used to stand outside of the Northgate and watch me play and that is how they got started with Latin music, congas, and timbales! He said he was just paying back what he owed!

Latin Jazz Quintet: "Sonny" Ulysses Crockett, leader and vibes; Carol Vorhes? (a guy), piano; Delmar Neely, upright bass; James Levy, timbales; yours truly, congas.

Carol had a very interesting style of playing which was heavily influenced by church music. He later quit the band to play at his church! What a loss for us, what a gain for his church! We had several other piano players but none of them ever really could take Carol's place!

James later played drums with the Whispers and toured the "chittlin' circuit"). The last I heard (1992?), he was playing drums with jazz organist Jimmy Smith. 2000/01/08: I am still trying to find James.

 Influencial LPs:
  • "Palo Congo" - Sabu Martinez (originally quite rare because Blue Note pulled it from distribution a few weeks after its release because they thought it was not "jazz" according to their "standards"). 1999: I finally got a Japanese reissue CD.
  • "Cuban Jazz" - +Walfredo de Los Reyes
  • "More Drums On Fire" includes "Artistry in Rhythm" and "Trieste" featuring Armando Peraza with some of the finest jazz conga/bongo drumming I have ever heard. In 1999, I sent Armando a cassette of the LP at his request and he called me and we talked and reminisced for about half an hour.
  • "Seeco Sampler of Latin Rhythms"

***I have a 1961 Vinyl LP of the LJQ which was cut in the recording studio by a hot needle (the quality is poor but, at least, I have it!).


Los Locos got a 6 night a week job at Lucky Pierre's, a club at Broadway and Columbus in S.F. Although there were several Latin clubs around S.F., our group was probably the first Latin group to play a full time (6 nights a week) regular job at a non-Latin club on Broadway. We packed the place all 6 nights a week! Flaco started on bass but soon he was replaced by several "real" bass players, first a cousin of Pete Escovedo, followed by Willie Colon (PR from Hawaii) (Willie was playing congas with Benny Velarde in 1992) and then we got Harold Martin. Harold and I became good friends and he became my compadre when my son was born). Still no rehearsing and no charts.

Cesar left Los Locos and started another group across the street at the El Cid.

1999/02/14: after 30 years, in a phone conversation with Cesar, I finally found out why he left Pierre's...the owners were cheating him on taxes ).

I think Los Locos and Guy Hoffmann's Latins really started something because, soon after that we started at Pierre's, many Latin groups suddenly popped up almost everywhere in S.F. and especially in the clubs on Broadway!

Cesar Ascarrunz (photo from Rudi Petschek 20010601)

Guy Hoffman (photo from Rudi Petschek 20010601)

Sometime just before or during the Pierre's job, I began to switch to playing the tumbao using HTSTHTOO LLRRLLRR.

Harold Martin (PR from Hawaii), bass; one of my best and closest friends for many years up until I left Latin music and started playing with the Poor Boys of Hawaii. I made contact with and visited Harold again in 1991 and gave him a copy of the 1962 tape.

Los Locos also played frequently at Circulo Pan-Americano (a South American Social Club) in the Mission District of S.F.

 Influencial LPs:
  • "Soul of Cuba" - Gloria Matancera
  • "Canta" - Celia Cruz
  • "West Side Beat" - Tito Rodriguez
  • "Latinsville!" Victor Feldman This is a very tasty album and includes Armando, Mongo, and Willie Bobo.
1961/04/03 Married to Ruth S. Schlank aka Ruth S. O'Neil
1961/00/00 Interest in tropical fish; had about a 20 foot wall with 2 levels of tanks.

After Cesar left the group, the group was renamed "Guy Hoffman's Latins) and we stayed at Pierres. We got an "older" pro (older to us kids!), Carlos Federico (from Panama) whose real name was Carlos Federico Smart (1930-1996), to play piano. Armando Peraza who knew Carlos (Carlos wrote some tunes for Shearing with whom Armando was playing at that time) used to come and sit in with Los Locos and Guy Hoffman's Latins whenever he was in town! Again Guy Hoffmann's Latins had no charts and never rehearsed, we just let the piano start and the rest of the band jumped in!

It is me playing my original Tom Wofford congas: notice the Tom Wofford TW brand above the handle.

L-R: Guy Hoffmann, Tito Boas, Califa, Harold Martin, Carlos Federico.

Carlos Federico (Panama), piano; IMHO he would have been one of the best and best known world-wide and not just in the San Francisco Bay Area except for personal problems; he influenced and taught many of the current "big time" S.F. Latin musicians including Pete Escovedo and Rebeca Mauleón.

photo probably 1954/5: Carlos Federico, piano; Beny Velarde, timbales; others unknown.

1962 reel-to-reel tape (very good home recording done by Larry Kay at Rudi's home in Berkeley) of Guy Hoffman's Latins (I was not able to copy the tape to a cassette until 1991); pretty good quality; includes Rudi Petschek, bongos; Jaime "Flaco" Lizarraga, guiro:

  • Abaniquito contains a decent conga solo IMHO. smiley face
  • Chevere
  • Coco_Seco the conga pattern is a mixture of patterns including basic tumbao, some of a similar pattern to that used in Preparen Candela, and a "reverse" guaguancó pattern which I had not heard anyone use until Celia Cruz' "Gua Gua" in 1997 in which the pattern is used for the entire tune.
  • Guajira_de_Salon
  • La_Bola
  • Malagueña
  • Poinciana
  • Preparen_Candela the conga pattern is possibly what Carlos later (1991) described as a precursor to the Mozambique; I suspect that I had been listening to some comparsa LPs.
    • 1998/07/11 as I listen to the pattern, I do not recall hearing it any where else and I don't recall playing it again, since I begin the tune with a fairly straight tumbao, and then switch into the weird pattern, I think that was just a "discovery of the day", i.e., something I just felt.
    • 1999/11/07 - Victor Rendón listened to it and also says it sounds like a mozambique a la Pello El Afrokan! I mentioned to Victor that I was probably in a transition from a self taught RLRLRLRL to the LLRRLLRR conga tumbao, so this might well be a transitional combination of some kind.
    • 2000/01/29 - Bobby Sanabria and Chembo both say it sounds a bit like an early mozambique!
    • 2001/06/08 - I just found something on the internet that says Pello El Afrokan introduced the mozambique rhythm in 1963. If this is true, my "discovery of the day" preceded Pello!
  • Tengo_un_Chivo the conga (me) plays one of the fastest "caballo" beats I had ever heard until the new fast merengues of the 80s-90s.

+++There may be a tape of Carlos with Pete Escovedo playing at the Oakland Moose Hall! I am trying to find a copy. There may also be a video with Carlos.


After the year or so at Pierre's, Guy went back to Peru and I was designated the leader (leader in name only!) for the last two weeks of the job (sweating every night, until the whole band arrived and was able to play, convinced me that I never wanted to be a leader again!). I guess I had my own band "Combo Califa".

The Latin craze lasted until the "twist" and topless dancing took over Broadway a couple of years later.

After Pierre's, I worked various jobs with Carlos (including some with the young Pete Escovedo (Sheila E's father)! I do not know personally Sheila or even if she was born at that time!)

2011/03/05: Mary had this photo of Carlos...probably taken sometime in the 80s.

Carlos was found deceased on October 1, 1996.

from Federico Memorial Sextet

Tribute To A Mambo King!

Written by Ronaldo Oregano

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Carlos Federico

Jazz at Pearl's will host a CD release party for The Carlos Federico Memorial Album, a glowing tribute album to mambo legend Carlos Federico on December 22nd and 23rd with shows at 8pm & 10pm. A steller cast of Carlos Federico alumni will celebrate his legacy for two nights. The Carlos Federico Memorial Sextet includes Teddy Strong (congas), Nerio DeGracia (vibes), David Belove (bass), David Frazier (bongo) and other special surprise guests. Chuy Varela, Music Director at KCSM Jazz 91, will be the MC for both evenings.

Panamanian-American pianist Carlos Federico lit up the Bay Area in the 1950s with a mambo quintet that had dancers spinning. His compositions were recorded by George Shearing, Malo, Chepito Areas, Ritmo 74 and others. As an educator, he started the community Salsa Workshops at the Mission Cultural Center, Eastbay center for the Performing Arts, Merritt College and many other spots where he taught students the art of Salsa and Latin Jazz. He passed away ten years ago without ever recording an album of himself playing his own music. The Carlos Federico Memorial Album is a Descarga Latin jam session recorded at the old KPFA studios in Berkeley in late 1985. It stands as testament to an unsung Bay Area Latin music pioneer.

Carlos Federico Smart was born on Dec.12, 1930 in Colon, Panama. The son of a doctor, he came to the Bay Area in the late 1940s to study medicine at U.C. Berkeley. Growing up in Panama his family had a piano that he naturally gravitated towards. As a teen, he became captivated by the sounds of Afro-Cuban music and starting picking things out. Piano players like Noro Morales, Pedro Justiz “Peruchín” and Perez Prado, served as early influences.

Into the 1950s, as San Francisco’s North Beach became a cultural mecca of the Beat generation and bongo fever struck, Carlos Federico and his Panamanians fueled a golden age of Latin music and dance playing around the Bay Area. The initiation of the Sunday afternoon "Mambo Sessions" at the Gold Room of the California Hotel in Oakland is what uplifted the band. The original quintet consisted of various musicians but prominently featured vibist Lionel Samuels, bassist Lou Gottlieb, drummer Ricardo Lewis, and timbaleros Willie Vargas or Bayard “Benny” Velarde.

Television appearances on the Del Courtney Show helped the group garner a large loyal following. Federico and his pals had already grooving with their small group Afro-Cuban jazz thing for some time when Cal Tjader rose to prominence. In fact, Tjader grabbed players from Federico’s band for his 1954 album, Modern Mambo Quintet. Musically, Carlos matured greatly in the 1950s thanks to his friendship with percussion great Armando Peraza, who he considered to be his first teacher.

It was through Armando that Federico encountered jazz great George Shearing, who asked to hear his compositions. Impressed, Shearing recorded his “Mambo Caribe” and "Rondo” on his Capitol LP, Latin Lace. It was also around this time that Federico brought a 17-year-old named Pedro “Pete” Escovedo into his band to play timbales.

As the 60's began, Federico tired of the rigors of leading a band and joined the Escovedo Brothers Band (Pete, Coke, Phil) as pianist. The Escovedo's energy was an inspiration, and Federico would later tell stories of a heyday when Pete and Coke would jump on the stage at Sweet's Ballroom in Oakland and start jamming with Tito Puente.

[dmreed: see above for more history...Carlos with Guy Hoffman's Latins at Lucky Pierre's at Broadway and Columbus]

From 1969 on, after Santana made their powerhouse debut at Woodstock, Latin Rock ruled the Bay Area. Federico’s contribution to this youthful movement includes collaborations with the group Malo and with Chepito Areas, who played timbales in Santana.

In 1974, Federico was recruited to be musical director of RITMO 74, one of the first real Salsa bands in the region. Federico helped organize and enrich the band. They worked hard in rehearsals and established a high musical standard that had them opening for The Fania All Stars and other out of town acts. The only document of this group is a 45-RPM single on Palo Monte Records with "Tu Problema," a tune that features Federico on a smoking solo. This group would only last a couple of years, when Federico fell on hard times and battled alcoholism.

During 1980s, Federico regained his focus and began his journey into teaching. Students like Rebeca Mauleón and Karl Perrazzo were led down a musical path that became their career and passion. In his last years, Federico played with a wide variety of bands and never discriminated as to their level of ability. Whether they were up-and-coming or established veterans, Federico always did what he could to further their music.

At the time of his passing, Federico was about to start recording what would have been his first album under his own name. It never happened there is really nothing out there showing the wonderful piano playing and musical ideas of Carlos Federico. Now, a decade later, we finally have a document of his music, passion and skill.

Jazz at Pearl's will host a CD release party for The Carlos Federico Memorial Album, a glowing tribute album to mambo legend Carlos Federico on December 22nd and 23rd with shows at 8pm & 10pm. Jazz at Pearls is located at 256 Columbus Ave., San Francisco - 415.291-8255.

Another early picture of Carlos Federico with Lalo Reyes on bass (date unknown maybe late 50s?)
 Influencial LPs:
  • Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, George Shearing - many LPs
  • "Goza Mi Son Montuno"
  • "Exitos del Clave De Oro" - Cuarto Son Ritmo De Oro
  • "Los Mejores Musicos De Cuba"
  • "The Incendiary Piano of Peruchín" - Peruchín
  • "guaguancó Afro-Cubano" El Vive Bien con el Grupo Folklorico de Alberto Záyas
  • "Descargas", "Cuban Music in Jam Session", "Jam Session with Feeling" Cachao 
  • "Cuban Jam Session" - Julio Gutierrez

Armando came to my home in Berkeley at least once for dinner. I picked him up in S.F. and drove him to Berkeley as he did not have a car. We listened to jazz, rock, and, if I recall correctly, classical music! My congas were in the corner but I did not ask him for instruction, after all, he was a dinner guest in my home! Armando Peraza! What a thrill for me!


I also did a couple of stints in S.F. with Benny Velarde's group at the old Copacabana (later the Tropicoro) at the east end of the Broadway Tunnel in S.F. Benny asked me to play congas with him after Cliff "El Chino" Andersen left the band. We also played the after-hours joint Coffee Dons on Saturday nights for a while). While with Benny, I met and was especially privileged to work with older experienced professional musicians: Wally Chilcott piano (probably one of the best piano players in Panama about the time before he came to the U.S.) and Lalo Reyes (he was so good that whenever Rene Touzet came to S.F., Rene picked him up as a sideman).

After a few months, Cliff wanted to come back and Benny let me go. Although I was disappointed, it was all right with me as Cliff was a more experienced player.

Benny Velarde (Panama), leader, timbales and vocal; Wally Chilcott (Panama); Lionel Samuels, vibes; Lalo Reyes (Mexican-American), bass; Califa, congas.

+++excerpt from Bennys album with Cliff "El Chino" Anderson on congas?


Somewhere around this time, I also played congas for a San Francisco off Broadway production of Truman Capotes musical "House of Flowers". There were just two musicians, a piano player and myself. The piano player was a math T.A. at UCB and had gotten the job for me. We worked in body makeup and costumes and sat/played on the side of the stage.

Anecdote: The piano player also played intermission music and frequently played classical pieces. One night I suggested that I might play along with him on some classical pieces, he looked surprised, but I suggested some Mozart, he started, I joined in, and it worked great! This was several years before Deodato's "Thus Spake Zarathrustra"!

1999/08/04: I just remembered that I used the octagon conga with the light inside for this job so it must have occurred shortly after the Pierre's job!

+++photos somewhere!


I also played congas for a modern dance class. Several different time signatures were used, i.e., whatever count the instructor counted, I just played something that would fit.


While playing at Pierre's, I was approached by a couple and asked if I would like to tour with them. She was a belly dancer and they wanted me to play dumbek which they said they would teach me to play. I said I would be willing to try playing dumbek. On my first visit to their home, when I arrived he was sitting in a chair reading a newspaper and she said she would be right back. She changed into one of the skimpiest costumes I had ever seen! She showed me a couple of basic dumbek techniques, sang a pattern, and I started playing. She was dancing/wriggling/gyrating not two feet from me. What a show for a young man (ME!). Her husband never looked up from his paper. After several rehearsals, they said the tour had not panned out and that was that! But it was indeed an interesting experience.


While playing at Pierre's, Armando Peraza would frequently sit in with the band playing bongos. One night when Armando was sitting in, Rudi Petschek brought in his home-made aluminium bongos, Armando loved them and called them Los Bongos Atomicos.

2016/07/25: At my request, Rudi sent me pictures of Los Bongos Atomicos so I could share them with the members of the bongo group on Facebook:

1962/00/00 Divorced from Ruth S Reed (Schlank).

In 1962, I began what was to become a life-time career as a computer programmer/analyst with the Univ. of Calif., first at the Berkeley campus, then at the Office of the UC President (Berkeley), and finally at the Univ. of Calif., San Diego (see 1978).

Up to this time, my income had been basically all from playing music.

2000/01/08: I just remembered that after the Pierre's job ended, I applied for unemployment benefits; they said I could not get such benefits because I was a student and would not be able to play any music jobs during the day, to which I replied that I would take any job music job during the day; they capitulated and I think I got 13 or 26 weeks of unemployment insurance and an extension of several weeks until the next music job started.


The new Los Locos then got a job at in San Jose at Maria's Club for about a year. Several excellent San Jose musicians used to sit in on a regular basis including Jesse Burciaga on saxes. With the new Los Locos, Maria's club was one of, if not, the most popular clubs in San Jose. Again, no charts and no rehearsals.

One night at Maria's Club while we were playing a tune, probably a guaracha or mambo, in walks an entire Mariachi band playing loud as they could, trumpets, guitars, guitaroon, violins; we stopped playing and Jim rushed out to his car, got his viola, tuned it up, and started playing with the Mariachis although he had never played that kind of music. He sounded like he had been playing with them for years! Jim also played bass with the Four Amigos for a while. He later quit playing music, joined a religious order, and moved to England. I lost contact with him for many years but sometime around 1991?, I located him in Utah! My son, James Dennis Reed, was named after James Barstad.

New Los Locos: same personnel as Guy Hoffman's Latins except that Casto Ascarrunz (Cesar's brother) played timbales and Jim Barstad (another gringo and my other best friend during the 60s), Jim was a schooled viola player who picked up Latin bass like he had done it all his life! Guillermo Ascarrunz played maracas and sang. Ted Rivera (PR) was the featured singer.

L-R: Jim Barstad, Guillermo Ascarrunz, Casto Ascarrunz.

In 1962, at Maria's Club, I met my wife, Maria (not associated with the club!) and we went together for about two years. Mary is PR and she introduced me to PR food and culture. (see 1991 below).

Mary 1960

I met or was "discovered by" several Latin band leaders while at Maria's (more on this later). Ted Rivera also introduced me to Bobby Zamora, a San Jose band leader, with whom I later played many jobs.

Bobby Zamora Band: Bobby Zamora was the leader and there I met several musicians with whom I would later play including Sal Caudillo and Mike Hermosillo (Mike with Ted later formed Sonora Marianao).Ted and Mike were some of my best friends and, as of 1991, we keep in touch.

2002/08/21: I still talk with Mike occasionally and see Ted a couple of times a year.


One of my most rewarding experiences was teaching a retarded boy to play basic congas. His enthusiasm and dedication was remarkable. I think his parents had seen me play in S.F. and asked if I would teach their son.


Cliff left Benny again and Benny asked me to return. I reminded him what had happened before and that I was working with another band. He said if I came back, it would be permanent. I said OK. Wouldn't you know it, after a few months, Cliff wanted to come back and Benny gave me notice! Armando Peraza, who often would sit in with Benny, was so mad at Benny for the way he had treated me that Armando offered to teach me timbales, saying that he would teach me to play better than Benny! For whatever reasons, Armando and I never did get together for the timbale lessons but I still appreciate his concern and his offer!


I also worked again for a year or more with Cesar's Men in San Jose at the Cesar's El Patio. The El Patio was probably the most popular club in San Jose at this time. Cesar's Men never rehearsed! No charts and no rehearsals.

Cesar's Men: Cesar, leader, club co-owner, piano; ? started and later Harold Martin, bass; Guy Hoffman and, later, Willy Vargas (PR and well known in S.F. and L.A.), timbales and vocal, and yours truly again, congas; Joe Sorci (Italian-American), flute and saxes. Casto, also co-owner of the club (?), started with the band but I don't know what he played nor do I remember why he left (possibly business disagreements with Cesar regarding the club?)

El Patio Opening Announcement (1964/05/21)[L-R: ? (bass player before Harold), Califa, Guy, Cesar, Casto.

L-R: Cesar, Joe Sorci, Califa.

Moderate quality 1964 cassette of Cesar's Men with Ted Rivera (PR) and Joe Guillen (Mexican) sitting in on featured vocals. If I remember correctly, the recording was done with two mikes lying on the carpet on each side of the stage. Vocalists are shown in parenthesis:

20010115: Listening to some of the tunes, e.g., Moliendo Cafe, I suspect that I was not feeling too well that evening, i.e., the &3 beats of some of the tunes seems to be a bit late which was not characteristic of my playing back in those days when I was usually playing "on top of the beat"!



Married Elisa Andrade in 1965 and divorced a few years later.

Consuelo Holt
Esperanza (Hope) ?
Reina ?

And sometime during the El Patio job, I began a relationship with a woman, Rachel B. It was very serious on my part and when it ended, I felt like half of me was missing and I recalled the concept of a soul-mate and began investigating that concept. I will develop a Spiritual Quest page(s) as I have time and recall the details.


I played bongos on a recording with the Dick Oxtot Trio. I got the job through Juanita who was renting a room from me.

Dick Oxtot Trio: Dick Oxtot, leader, bass, vocal; Juanita Oribello(?), guitar, vocal; Tim Small, guitar, vocal; Califa, bongos.

+++45 sized LP


My son James Dennis Reed was born!


I bought my first drum set (a black Ludwig jazz cocktail set). After quite a search, I found a drum teacher (Jack ?)who would teach me the basic rhythms for swing, waltz, polka, mambo, etc., on the drum set using all four limbs without forcing me to learn the rudiments, etc. He had been a Las Vegas show drummer for many years. I took lessons for a couple of months or so in which he showed me a variety of basic rhythms.

Anecdote: We often had a lesson which lasted twice as long as his other students and frequently took a snack/coffee break in the middle of the lesson and discussed music in general and drumming in particular. It was interesting when I got to the lesson early and heard other students, they could do rudiments but when he asked them to play time followed by a rudimental lick, followed by time, they played the time, did the lick but did not come back in time. When I tried the same thing, I would play time, usually fouled up the lick, but I came back in time!

Anecdote: When the teacher showed me the mambo, it really was a full sound and driving, but I stopped him and told him he was not doing it right! He asked me to show him what I meant, so I sat down saying I could only show him the hands, not the legs. I played the bell pattern and the 2 and 4& on the snare and tom. He tried it and messed it up. He asked me to do it again. He tried it, messed it up again, so  I showed him again. This time he did it right! He said he had been trying to get that pattern/feel for many years!


A few months after I got my first drum set, I got my first drum job (a Latvian - not Latin - trio with piano, sax and drums). A friend of mine, Scott Gilbert, was quitting the group and he recommended me! A tough job for a beginning drummer without a bass (hard to coordinate the bass drum without help)! The band played Viennese waltzes, German polkas, marches, Polonaises, etc. I played every waltz as a "jazz" waltz, every polka as a "Mexican" polka, faked marches, etc.

Anecdote: After my first job with the band, a older couple came up to the stage and told the band leader that they really liked the new drummer and that they thought he was better than the previous drummer. I think that what they noticed was that I played very straight time (that is all I could do!) and my friend had probably played with a lot of fills so as to not get too bored. 

Anecdote: I went to see a Shelly Mann concert and on a break, I explained to him that I was new to drums but that I was already playing drums in several good bands. I asked him what was the best way to learn to play drums quickly and he said "you're doing it!" which I took to mean that actual band playing was the quickest way to learn to play. I later wished I had also taken basic drum lessons including rudiments. frowney face


Wally and Lalo left Benny's group and started a trio (I was playing somewhere else at the time) and asked me to play drums/congas with them! (remember, I had just recently gotten my first set of drums so I was a real beginner but I could keep time!). The trio worked for about 6 to 9 months in a Broadway club about half a block up from the Broadway Oakland Bay Bridge exit (all kinds of music including paso dobles for a Flamenco dancer and strip music for a topless dancer. The club then folded and our last paycheck was all the booze and glassware we could carry out of the club. What a great musical experience and on-the-job training for a beginning drummer!

Anecdote: One night Wally said some of his South American friends who played on a cruise ship were coming in to see him and the group. He mentioned that the drummer was one of the best Brazilian drummers. I was looking forward to having the drummer sit in so I could watch. We were playing a tune and Wally suddenly stopped and said play a samba because they had arrived! I just about froze in my tracks but began to play my version of a samba (single bass drum kick and brushes playing a samba-mambo cascara pattern on the snare with an occasional lick on a tom). I was totally embarrassed. But when the samba finished (I wanted to just crawl away), his friends came up to say hello and the drummer inquired about me and told Wally that I was the first American he had heard who played the samba with the right feeling (I know my technique was non-existent but I guess I had the right feeling)!

Anecdote: One night right just after the bass had finished tuning to the piano, I sitting behind them, pulled out a kazoo from my trap case and I said "Give me an E" and automatically Wally without thinking about it,  played an E, I blew an E on the kazoo which totally busted them up and we could hardly play the first tune, all of us laughing so much!

Trio: Wally Chilcott (Panamanian), piano; Lalo Reyes (Mexican-American), bass; yours truly (un gringo), drums, congas.

+++A 45 on Golden State Records backing Rick Cortez who sang two of his original tunes "Thunderbird" and "Chant of Cecilia" Wally arranged and played piano, Lalo was on bass, we had a drummer (Eddie Valencia?) and a sax (?); I played congas and percussion overdubs.


I played congas with the Becho Gloria Orchestra on a fairly regular basis usually in San Jose at the Rainbow Ballroom.

Becho Gloria (Mexican-American), leader, arranger, piano; and many of the same musicians who sat in with Los Locos and who later played with Sonora Marianao (see below) played with Becho.

+++still trying to get tapes of Becho's groups.


My dad passed away in the afternoon at about 3pm.

While the family was trying to contact me that night, I was sitting back stage at a burlesque show (my dad would have approved!) in S.F. watching the drummer. I do not recall the drummer's name but he was an older Black man probably in his 50s. He was an extremely smooth player. If I recall correctly, he also took me to his home where I met his wife and had dinner. I think I hung out with him for a short time until I started the next music job.


I principally worked in San Jose with Sonora Marianao at Arturo's Quiet Village. Sonora Marianao used a lot of charts (few percussion charts) and rehearsed frequently.

Sonora Marianao: Mike Hermosillo (Mexican-American), co-leader, trumpet, valve trombone, fluegel horn, arranger, composer; Ted Rivera (PR), co-leader, vocals; other personnel varied and included: Frank Mecina?, trumpet; Jesse Burrciaga, saxes, flute; Johnny Olachea/Marty Olachea (sometimes flute and vibes)/others, piano; Harold Martin/Mike Olachea (sometimes guitar) /Pete Flores/Sal Caudillo /others, bass; Sal also played timbales and drums but Ronnie Eridia (Mexican-American) was the main timbale player (very tasty and a real clock!); yours truly, congas (occasionally bongos if a conga player sat in) and later drums when appropriate and, when Ronnie left, I played timbales (my first or second timbale job!).

Ted Rivera 1970

Anecdote: One night an elderly couple was celebrating their anniversary (50th?) and requested Anniversary Waltz. Mike said that we had no charts and it was a waltz so we could not do it. I told Mike to wait and suggested to him that we do it as a mambo. He asked how so I softly played a tumbao and sang the melodic line for him. He said OK and the band did a jam of the tune. The couple danced to it half time, beaming from ear to ear. After the tune finished, they thanked us profoundly.

Along the same line, in 1968, as I had been messing around with Scarborough Fair on the guitar, I suggested to Mike that the band might do it as a cha cha chá, he said it was a waltz and couldn't be done. I insisted that it could and he said to write it down which he knew I could not do and which shut me up quickly. Within the week, Brazil '66 hit the airwaves with a hit, you guessed it: Scarborough Fair as a cha cha chá! At the next job I mentioned it to Mike and he just shrugged and said he had been wrong.

I have some 1965? and 1968-69? moderate quality cassettes of Sonora Marianao.

1965? Sonora Marianao recording live at Arturo's Quiet Village, San Jose, Calif. Featuring Augie Dones (PR) sitting in on vocal for some jam tunes:

  • Evil_Ways a jam with Augie singing and in which I play what I call an Afro-Cha (for lack of a better term) and I kept feeling 6/8 and kept trying to get the band to shift from 4/4 to 6/8; about 3/4 of the way through the tune, in frustration, I just "dug in" and kept the 6/8 going, and finally the piano, then bass, and last the timbales picked it up; and, after a bit, we brought it back to 4/4 TOGETHER!
  • Sonny_Boy a jam where Augie sings and Califa takes a fairly nice conga solito - 20010603, I just noticed how much cleaner my playing was compared to the earlier recordings, cleaner and more taste IMHO. Trumpet solos by Mike and Pete Messina; piano solo Johnny Olachea.

+++Trinis party tapes ?

Anecdote: The band also played opposite Lobo's (Lobo of "Lobo y Melon") group when they came to San Jose; we had a going away party when their job was done; we played almost constantly, tune after tune, and the musicians simply easing onto an instrument and the former player moving to another instrument or getting something to eat or drink. When listening to tapes of the party several years later, it was impossible to tell who was playing except for certain distinctive licks! What a ball! I think I have some copies of that party's tapes, fair quality. The party tape may include my only recorded timbale playing which is too bad because at least one of the bass players was not to strong or had been drinking so, when I took a solo, I also had to keep time for the group!

1998/07/15: I just discovered that some other tapes have samples of my timbale playing!

Several well known musicians who used to sit in with Sonora Marianao: Tommy Harrell (now a well known N.Y. jazz trumpet player) used to sit in occasionally, Jose "Chepito" Areas, one of Carlos Santana's first timbaleros, used to come to Arturo's and sit in whenever he was in town, and the same for Steve Jordan (squeeze box player).


Teddie? sushi!


Sometime, late 60s or early 70s, I worked with Blachy Gutieriez (PR) and his quartet for about a year at a small PR club on 3rd Street in S.F. Blachy played traditional PR and other Latin music. Harold Martin got me the conga job when Blachy needed a new conguero by convincing him to try me out even though I was not PR. I was not really familiar with plenas, bombas, and other traditional rhythms but I managed to "fake" it well enough for Blachy and for the crowds! No charts and few rehearsals. I also later played timbales for Blachy.

Anecdote: One night while we were playing, in walks one of the red-headed Nicaraguan brothers (Sergio or Lee Pastora) I had known and learned with in my High School days and with whom I had had no contact for about 10 years! He sat in on congas (I probably played bongos).

Blachy Gutieriez (PR), leader, vocals, tres/quattro/guitar; Harold Martin, bass; Wayne ? (PR), timbales; me again, congas; when Wayne left, I switched to timbales (first or second timbale job); I think Nelson Ramirez (PR) may have played congas and maybe Willie Colon (a local S.F. musician, a PR from Hawaii) also came in to play congas.

2000/01/08: I remember the dime pinball machine at the club which (although illegal) would pay cash for points. I remember getting to the job early so I could play that machine! I think I made a few bucks on that machine!