Sources and Bibliography

Cuba Canta

Encyclopedic Discography of Cuban Music

Cristóbal Díaz-Ayala

In numerous cases we refer to the collection deposited in the Fundación Musicalia (FM), the institution housing my collection that spans a hundred years of all types of musical reproduction (cylinder, 78s, 45s, LPs, eight-track tapes, cassettes, CDs and video), books, magazines, newspaper clippings, interview transcriptions, photos, and other materials, totaling over 100,000 items. In June 2001, my wife and I donated the collection to Florida International University in Miami, Florida. We are in the process of creating a computer database before physically sending the entire collection to FIU, which should take about three years, although parts will be sent in stages during this period.

In this Discography we have tried to follow, whenever possible, the useful suggestions provided by distinguished discographers in the Forum on discographies as established by the ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections) and published to date in the following issues of their journal, the ARSC Journal, Vol. 28, No. 2, 1997, pp. 198-208; Volume 29, No. 2, 1998, pp. 208-212; Volume 30, No. 2, 1999, pp. 151-156; and Volume 31, No. 2, 2000, pp. 276-281.

Precisely one of the recommendations made by these experts is the need for an introductory essay, explaining the sources used in putting together the discography, so that its users can augment, reaffirm or comment on its contents. This essay applies equally to the first volume of that discography, which covers the acoustic recordings from 1898 to 1925.

The majority of the sources used are originals or copies that can be found in the Fundación Musicalia collection. In cases where that is not so, we will mention the original source used.

Synopsis of the Sources

  1. Sources for Performer Biographies: Generally these are mentioned at the end of each biography. There are source works that have been extensively used, such as my previous works, or the encyclopedias of Popular Music published by Oxford, Penguin, the Grove New Dictionary of Jazz, and others; or collections of newspaper clippings, magazines, and other written sources, all available at FM. These sources are included in alphabetical order in the Bibliography located at the end of this work, and are easy to locate.
  2. Photos of Performers: Basically, these have been taken from the photographic archives of FM, or directly from the sources previously mentioned. The source of each and every photograph is not identified.
  3. Photos from Record Companies or Record Covers: Unless otherwise indicated, these are from materials found in the FM archive.
  4. The Discography Itself:
  1. Primary Sources: The recordings themselves and their covers.
    1. 78rpm Records. As is known, this category comprises records that don't exactly run at this speed, but approximately so, especially during the beginnings of the recording industry before the speed was regularized. A great percentage of these 78s, or black shellac, as they were known (though some of Columbia's were blue), that are included in this discography, are located in the FM archives. Generally, the discography contains all the information provided on the record labels and even on the disc itself, as happens with some series of Columbia records, which contain the master number of the recording.
    2. Long Playing (LPs): Different from 78s, all of the LPs included are physically located at FM, except some from the collection of Dr. Raúl Reyes Roqué and others, of which we have tapes and xerographic copies of covers and back covers. In the case of an LP we have not had access to but know of through a catalogue or another source, we indicate as such in the text.
    3. Other Media: We only mentioned some cylinders in the first volume of this work, but none in the second since they were no longer being made. Mention of 45s is quite limited, since, as a rule, when Cuban music was issued, there was a simultaneous printing in 78rpm, often with the same serial number, but with a 45 or 78 placed in front or at the end, accordingly. Nonetheless, there are some discs mentioned that apparently were not printed in both formats, a substantial number of which are also in the FM collection.
  2. Secondary Sources:
    1. Record Company Archives:

      Victor and RCA Victor. Currently belonging to BMG International in New York, their archives are the most complete ones we have had access to. The reference material used is the archive of "green cards"; 6" by 4" green-colored cards, each one containing information pertaining to one side of a 78. There are tens of thousands of these cards. Fortunately, this format was maintained from the first recordings to the last made in 78rpm and 45rpm formats. We refer frequently to their contents. There are some cards which are missing, apparently misplaced or incorrectly filed. In many cases, the green cards have the record label attached.

      For the first volume of this work, which covers from 1898 to 1925, we also use the logs kept of the Victor Trips to South America, undertaken to record sessions in 1911, 1913, 1914, and 1916. On page 51 and subsequent pages of said work, one can find more details on these documents.

      Victor also kept a registry of recordings made in its studios, and with the information contained in these registries, and in others, they would prepare sheets with "release information". This source complements the information of the inexistent cards, and they are filed in alphabetical order by performer in another section of the Victor Archives, and they are another important source.

      There are Victor catalogues that correspond to their Latin discs in their archives. The FM holdings have various Victor catalogues -either originals or copies- that complete the information.

      The Victor "green cards" also comprise recordings made in other countries, then made into masters in their U.S. studios and later issued to be sold as part of their domestic series, for the U.S. market, or in a foreign series. This included all of the Latin American countries except Mexico and Argentina, where Victor had their own factories, and issued them locally for those markets, and of which Victor has kept no record. However, on some occasions Victor deemed that some of these performers would be in demand in other countries, whereby they made these recordings part of their international series.

      Columbia. This label has changed hands several times, and, unfortunately, has not preserved such rich archival material as Victor. Today it is run by the Sony Corporation, also headquartered in New York. For those interested, details were offered of the Columbia archives in the first volume of the discography (1898-1925), page 79. We also have some of the Columbia catalogues in the FM collection.

      Among other companies that produced recordings of Latin music, were Okeh, Vocalion, and Brunswick, which later became part of Columbia, and, as a result, in the aforementioned archives there are references to many pertinent recordings.

      Seeco: This label, founded in 1945 by Sidney Siegel in New York, now belongs to West Side Records, Inc., and is the most complete catalogue and best preserved archive of Latin music. As usual for recording labels, they maintain a general register of recordings that is quite complete, as well as a card catalogue.

      Ansonia: This recording label was devoted to Latin music, and apparently lost its archives in a fire. But we have Ansonia and other catalogues from other Latin record labels in the FM archives.

      Cuban Labels: Except for the case of Panart, of which there is a list of its printed 78s up to 1960 in the library of the University of Maimi, we have not found the archives of Panart or other labels in Cuba such as Montilla, Puchito, Discuba, Gema, Kubaney. FM has catalogues of these and other labels. There are also interviews with the owners or former owners of these labels. Likewise, we have the catalogues of other labels such as Odeón, Fuentes, Verne, SMC, and others.

  3. Tertiary Sources:  These are basically discographies and other works found in books, magazines, journals, and newspapers that contain pertinent information.
    1. Richard K. Spottswood: Ethnic Music on Records- A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893 to 1942 (University of Illinois Press, 1990, 4,347 pages). This work was the source of inspiration for my own. Ever since I was able to collaborate with Mr. Spottswood on the Spanish-language section of that book, I decided to undertake this Discography. In fact, a substantial part of it contains entries made for the first time, many of which we have taken, as well as using the format of that seminal work.
    2. Other Discographies:
      Although already used as as source in the first volume (1898-1925) of this discography, we should mention The Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings, by Ted Fagan and William R. Moran (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1983-1986), which unfortunately has only published the first two volumes, covering up to 1908. This work contains Victor recordings made in other countries, or of ethnic music produced in the United States.

      The Decca Labels: A Discography by Michel Ruppli (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1996, 6 Vols.), lamentably does not have composer information, nor information on performing musicians, but it is still an important source, especially for dates.

      The Columbia Master Book Discography by Tim Brooks and Brian Rust (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1999, 4 Vols.) Unfortunately, this work does not include recordings by this label made in Latin America, and there were many, since, after Victor, they were the most prolific label. Still, it is a helpful source.

      Paul Vernon's Ethnic and Vernacular Music, 1898-1960 (Greenwood Press, 1995) contains valuable information on record labels worldwide which have come out with, among others, Cuban music.

      Ethnic Recordings -A Neglected Heritage by various authors (Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 1982). Like the previously cited work, it has important general information on the topic.

      All of the following works by Brian Rust have been helpful in one way or another: The American Record Label Book (Da Capo, Press, NY, 1984); Jazz Records: 1897-1942 (Arlington House, 1978, 4th Ed., 2 Vols.). To find rare jazz orchestra recordings of Cuban music, like Louis Armstrong's version of "El Manisero" (The Peanut Vendor) see The American Dance Band Discography 1917-1942 (Arlington House, 1975, 2 Vols.). The Complete Entertainment Discography-From the mid 1890s to 1942 (Arlington House, 1973) is useful for finding figures like Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier and others. Brian Rust's Guide to Discography (Greenwood Press, 1980) is a worthwhile manual, featuring his rather novel form of research and documentation, which Rust calls "science", coined for the first time, according to Rust himself, by Charles Delaunay in his Hot Discography, published in Paris (1936).

      Also rewarding in unearthing information about North American singers and orchestras in Cuban music, and for identifying composers of specific works, is Roger D. Kinkle's The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz: 1900-1950 (Arlington House, 1974, 4 Vols.).

      Michael W. Sherman's The Collector's Guide to Victor Records (Monarch Records Enterprises, Dallas, 1992) contains worthwhile information, especially on the fascinating subject of labels and seals of records and their changes over time.

      Galen Cart's The American Records Label Directory and Dating Guide (Big Nickel Publications, 1989) has been beneficial for finding the dates in which many LPs were recorded by different labels.

      Equally helpful was Steven C. Barr's The Almost Complete 78rpm Record Dating Guide (Yesterday Once Again, CA, 1992), in helping to locate dates for small and medium-sized recording labels.

      David E. Canfield's monumental Guide to Classical Recordings (Ars Antiqua, 5th Ed., 2000) aided in finding in some classical LPs difficult to find through other searches.

      The other group of tertiary sources are formed by publications that are not discographies proper, or a history of recording labels like the previously mentioned works, but still added supplemental discographic facts.

      Such is the case with Nat Chediak's Diccionario de Jazz Latino (Fundación Autor, Madrid, 1998), which we will copiously cite from for our biographical notes, but it also deserves mention for its selective discography -and sometimes complete discographies- of biographical entries.

      Ricardo Risetti's two books, Memorias del Jazz Argentino (Ediciones Corregidor, Buenos Aires, 1994) and De corazón a corazón- Memoria del bolero de la Argentina (Ediciones Corregidor, Buenos Aires, 1996) often offer incomplete information in terms of details, but are still rewarding in terms of capturing the presence of Cuban music in Argentina.

      Héctor Ramírez Bedoya's Historia de la Sonora Matancera y sus estrellas (Imp. Begón, Medellín, Colombia, 1996), also includes, aside from all the biographical information on all who performed with the group -many of which we have used- significant discographic references. This practice, which hopefully will become more widespread in monographic works on Latin American performers and composers, is still an exception; therefore, we are going to include those who have done so, hoping their example will inspire future authors.

      Ezequiel Rodríguez Domínguez: Trío Matamoros- Treinta y cinco años de música popular cubana (Editorial Arte y Literatura, La Habana, 1978). This work at least offers a detailed account of the LPs recorded by the Matamoros Trio.

      Jorge Calderón: María Teresa Vera (Editorial Letras Cubanas, la Habana, 1986).

      Alberto Muguercia and Ezequiel Rodríguez: Rita Montaner (Editorial Letras Cubanas, La Habana, 1984).

      Amín Naser: Benny Moré (Ediciones Unión, La Habana, 1985).

      Sergio Santan:a Benny Moré, hoy como ayer (Ed. Rumbantana, Medellín, Colombia, 1999).

      María Antonieta Henríquez: Alejandro García Caturla (Ediciones Unión, La Habana, 1998).

      Miguelito Ojeda: Bola de Nieve (Editorial Letras Cubanas, La Habana, 1998).

      Iraida Sánchez Oliva & Santiago Moreaux Jardines: La Guantanamera (Ediciones José Martí, la Habana, 1999).

      Clara Díaz Pérez: Sobre la guitarra, la voz (Editorial Letras Cubanas, La Habana, 1994).

      Jaime Rico Salazar: La vida y las canciones de Carlos Gardel (Editorial Musical Latinoamericana, Bogotá, Colombia, 1985). Contains a discography of Carlos Gardel.

      Mario Clavel: Somos...una vida de canciones, Autobiografía (Producciones Iturbe, Buenos Aires, 1996).

      Libertad Lamarque: Autobiografía (Ed. Javier Vergara, 1986).

      A special thanks to these last two great artists who in their autobiographies included their discographies as part of the story of their lives, giving these discographies their just significance.