Friday, July 23, 2010

"Los que saben ... saber" - Jay Bereck and Matthew Smith


Jay Bereck and Matthew Smith are in my opinion, the only two Master drum makers that are currently making traditionally styled "Cuban" percussion instruments in the U.S.A. that literally have "Soul" in them.
The "Soul" of both Jay and Matt go into every "organic" wood drum they make.
Drums made of fiberglass and plastic are absolutely "soulless".


Their drums do not look like they belong in a circus,
nor do they look like: "novelty salt and pepper shakers"




These are photos of Jay Bereck and Matthew Smith.
The very definition of Master "Artists-Artisanos"
"Los que saben ... saber"

Jay Bereck - "Skin On Skin"®
Made in the U.S. not cheaply made
on an assembly line in Thailand.

1986 - Brooklyn, N.Y.
I took this photo of Jay Bereck in his workshop with his drums around him. The drum in the middle in front was made by Natalio "Junior" Tirado, it had been stained black by Junior, I had Jay refinish the drum to show the natural grain of the Mahogany.

1994 - Brooklyn, N.Y.
I took this photo of Jay Bereck in his workshop
with four of his Oak drums around him.
The small drum in the front was a 8½ inch
'Requinto' I asked him to make for me.

Oak 8½ inch 'Requinto'
with plain black oxidized bands.

1994 - Brooklyn, N.Y.
At Jays workshop, picking out skins to buy.
This was when the quality of skins were much better than the
"overly processed" skins that are currently available.
No two skins looked alike.

Jay Bereck's "Skin On Skin"® Oak tumbadoras.
With thin "clean looking" brushed steel bands.
Photo: Juan in California

Jay Bereck's "Skin On Skin"® Oak tumbadora.
With thin "clean looking" brushed steel bands.

Jay Bereck's "Skin On Skin"® Oak tumbadora.
With thin "clean looking" brushed steel bands.
Photo: James in California

Jay Bereck's clean looking "V"
Photo: James in California

Jay Bereck "Skin On Skin"® tumbadoras.
"Economy line" made of Cherry wood with
plain black oxidized hardware.

Jay Berecks "Skin On Skin"® Oak bongoes
Photo: Dario, Miami

Jay Berecks "Skin On Skin"® Walnut bongoes
Photo: Dario, Miami

Jay Berecks "Skin On Skin"® Batá drums


Matthew Smith - "Ritmo"®
Made in the U.S. not cheaply made
on an assembly line in Thailand.

Hecho de Walnut, Matt Smith - "Ritmo"®


Matt Smith - Tumbadoras de Oak

Matt Smith - Tumbadoras de Mahogany - "Ritmo"®

Marca "Ritmo"® por Matt Smith

Marca "Ritmo"® por Matt Smith

Marca "Ritmo"® por Matt Smith

Marca "Ritmo"® por Matt Smith

Matt Smith's "V"


Matt Smith's bongoes - "Ritmo"®
Tres variedades de madera.

Matt Smith's bongoes - "Ritmo"®

Matt Smith's Mahogany bongoes - "Ritmo"®
Photo: Dario, Miami

Matt Smith and Jay Bereck
both made of Oak, the one on the right is mine.
"Que viva la memoria del gran Gonzalo Vergara "
Y el gran Natalio Tirado Ruiz a.k.a. "Junior"

8 comments:

Bongos not bombs said...

Have you heard of or seen Resoltion Drums? I have a set of them that I enjoy as much as my Skin on Skins. Made by Ralph Flores in the same tradition as his father Tom who made Valjes.

Fidels Eyeglasses said...

Yes, I know the Flores history, with much respect.
If I was on tour somewhere and the venue supplied Resolution drums I'd play them. But would not take one home with me if offered to me free.
Visually they are anything but aesthetically pleasing to my eye.
They are too Valje-ish for me.

I prefer, respect and enjoy a more classic Cuban shape and hardware.
Now most people know that while I have my own personal opinions, likes, dislikes, I never tell anyone what they should like or not like, buy or not buy.
It's all a matter of personal taste.
If someone wants to buy a drum that looks like it came from a "Jetson's cartoon".... that's up to them.

It's noteworthy to understand that's what is available and popular on the East coast of the U.S. is different than what is available and popular on the West coast of the U.S.

Europe is a different story, with so called "new designs" so far off base
that a drum made of rubber, plastic and synthetic non organic materiel is the accepted norm.

I prefer my instruments not made on an assembly line in Thailand by workers just putting "parts together" and paid shamefully substandard wages.

Look at Jays and Matthews work..
that can't be beat even if someone uses the "rarest and most exotic woods" from Hawaii... or odd looking "stainless steel" in Canada.

Bongos not bombs said...

Well said Mark. I consider myself very fortunate to own what I consider are the best examples of drums from the East and West coasts.

Fidels Eyeglasses said...

Yes, you have a nice mix/variety.
But I notice you don't have any non wood
drums as in "Jetsons Fiberglass" specials. LoL

Rumba Instruments said...

Thanks Mark, I like to mix it up a little.

Yeah no fiberglass for me. Except at my rehearsal space, the bandleader has a set of fiberglass Patatos. I use them for convenience, never for gigs! They sound dead and lifeless compared to my others.

jrmaxxbongo said...

Hey Mark,

It's time for accolades. I really dig your work on this site. The music is outstanding and the focus articles are very cool and informative. Everyone in my social circle and family thinks so as well. These two master artisans are to go down in history including Cali of JCR that has made me several drums and refurbished several Jr congas for my brother. Artisans like these keep our music sounding pure and culturally authentic.

I remember listening to Papi Calavieco and Marcelino Valdes as a 7yr old kid with standout sound that called my attention to sound from great instruments.
Thanks for these articles.

I currently have a Music Radio Spot on the web called RumbaJazz Spot at http://www.rumbajazzspot.com Please include me as a friend on your site and tell your followers.

Much respect!
Will Alvarez Jr

Fidels Eyeglasses said...

Thanks Will, thanks for the accolades, it's a labor of love for me and a lot of fun discovering things along the way.

Papi Calavieco and Marcelino Valdés were excellent drummers.. and I go to Cali (JCR) when I need metal repaired, Cali is a great guy.

I gave you an add.
rumbajazzspot.com

thanks for the shout out.
Regards,
Mark

CongaDR said...

Hello my brother!

This is my set of Black Walnut that the Maestro Matt Smith is working on in the pictures above.. Im so stoked to have this set, and play them almost every single day since I received them. I feel blessed!

Tony
http://congadr.blogspot.com

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