These haiku are inspired by music from the 1940s onward. I used to love listening to “latin jazz” and afro-cuban jazz. Years ago, when I had a radio spot, finding music to share was a delight, especially since it was long before the Internet!

Chano Pozo revolutionized American jazz at a time when it was increasingly open to global influences, while at the same time, changing Cuban music forever, with Bandleader and tresero/tumbadora player, Arsenio Roriguez (1911-1970), You can hear him here:

Arsenio Rodriguez, Rumba Guajira

In 1942, Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo collaborated on “Manteca!”, one of the first latin jazz tunes to survive and thrive in the crossover market with mainstream music.

Chano Pozo’s Drums


We can’t help but marvel

each time that syncopation

beats air to feet


Skintalker, Chano

talks to the wood and skin

our feet answer back

Chano Pozo’s Drums, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Merceditas Valdes ( 1922-1996)

was a singer who popularized AfroCuban music both in her home country of Cuba and throughout Latin America. Colloborating for many years with Grupo Yoruba Andabo, she also worked with Canadian flautist and bandleader Jane Bunnet. I even got to see her perform, though she had slowed down quite a bit! Merceditas Valdes got her start at the end of the 1940s and performed until shortly before her death.


Old breath of mourning

morning’s arrival takes me

into light, shadow


Your voice like your hands

warm, brown, wrinkled motion

rhythm of the fading havest

Merceditas Valdes, Homenaje a Oshun, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Merceditas Valdes, Oshun 2, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.