Specialist musician in afro-cuban percussion.
-Initiated musician from yoruba ritual drum ensemble "Añá Obba Tola", belonging to his family.
-Musician in rituals called "Cajones al Muerto" or spiritist ceremonies, also with his family.
-Member of international dance company "Raices Profundas" leaded by Juan de Dios Rámos "El Colo".
-Recorded 17 cds that can be bought in the whole World with Abbilona.
Born june 15th 1981, Manley the younger member of a drummer family named "Los Chinitos", from la Corea, barrio of the San Miguel del Padrón municipio, in Havana.
This family is composed by four López brothers: Reynaldo, Berto, Irián, and Pedro, and by Pedro's son Manley. This family has been nicknamed "los Chinitos" (little chinese) because they look, as Pedro López says, "achinados" (they've got some "chinese" - in their face).
(Mario "Aspirina" Jáuregui and his gransons
Photo Credits: Christine Ammour)
Photo Credits: Christine Ammour)
-In 1991: Manley begins playing in yoruba rituals, at the age of 10, knowing most of the music of the sacred rhythms on the second and third drums, he learned with his uncle Irián.
-Between years 1991 and 1997 he integrated several ritual bata groups such as "Tambor de Amador", "Tambor de Pedro Aspirina" and in 1997 completely integrated "Tambor de Lázaro Cuesta" called "Añá Obba Tola", that today is leaded by his father Pedro López. Manley is now the main musician of the group.
-In 1995, Manley enters the group "Aspirina Guaguancó" formed by young gifted musicians. The "Aspirinas" family from Guanabacoa is the most famous rumba family in Havana, since years 1940.
(Young Manley "Piri" aged 15 during recordings of "Abbilona" project)
-After 1997, the "Chinitos" began recording bata drums and yoruba singing records, within the "Abbilona", project containing 45 cds, recorded in 4 periods. Those records are known in the whole World as the most accomplished work ever made in afro-cuban music. They are the most complete work ever recorded in yoruba music from Cuba. Irián López has been the artistic leader, and conducted recording sessions. But famous guest drummers didn't do the work the way Irián would like to, so he decided to ask young Manley, aged 15, as a last-minute substitute. Manley wears for the very first time in his life a headphone, and, without fearing the studio situation, acts as a great professionnal musician, recording all drums parts to be recorded in one take.
He therefore took an important place in the "Abbilona" project. Cuban musicians or bata aficionados all over the world will hardly believe a 15 years old musician plays that great itótele in all those records. This drum is difficult to play, since attention must constantly be paid to what iyá plays, answering to questions it constantly brings. Piri played a fully mastered part, without failing, all along the 45 Abbilona cds.
-In 2004 he enters folkloric company "Raíces Profundas" leaded by great singer Juan de Diós Ramós "El Colo". It is one of the most famous cuban folkloric ensembles. Raíces Profundas makes international tours since 15 years. Within the company, Piri improved the styles he didn't know well, learning the world of modern non-traditionnal choregraphy, using elements from folklore in a contemporary context.
Manley masters improvisation and accompanying dancing in most of all the 100 styles of afrocuban music.
He plays and teaches all following folkloric styles:
• Rumba (Columbia, Guaguanco, Yambù, Guarapachanguero)
• Comparsa (carnival music)
• Yoruba (Bata drums, Guïro, Bembé, Iyesá)
• Congo (Yuka, Makuta, Makutica, Palo)
• Arará (Hebbioso, Afrekete, Asoyí, Asojanú, Mase, Tiñosa)
• Tonada Trinitaria
• Folklore "de Oriente" (Gagá, Vodú, Merengue haitiano-cubain, Tumba francesa, Tajona, Yubá Cobrero, Yubá Macota, Masón, Frenté, Manganzila)
The "Chinitos" are also professionnal musicians in other ritual styles in afro-cuban music such as "Guïro", and "Cajón Espiritual" or "Cajón al Muerto". They often play at "Sábados de la Rumba", a weekly rumba series of concerts organized by the Conjunto Foklórico Nacional.
Manley plays in at least 15 afro-cuban musical manifestations every month, 10 of them at least are bata drum ceremonies.
Manley has the reputaion to play with great creativity, his own style is getting influence on common Havana style, as he is one of the most remarkable musicians of the time.
(Piri and Antoine in Italy)
Transmission of afro-cuban musics has been made until now mainly using oral tradition. Manley learned this way since he was small with his uncles. In cuban Art Schools and Universities great musicians teach folkore since early 1960ies. But oral tradition still lives on, and remains the main teaching mode, for cubans and for foreign students.
Since early 80ies, the "Chinitos" teach afro-cuban music at their home, to students from the whole world. In 25 years, they have known a lot of foreign students, and Manley, since he was 10, accopanied lessons with the uncles. There he learned how to teach. To anyone interested in cuban folkloric music he often tells:
"Even if one day I am part of the best musicians, once I'll be dead: what will remain of me? Nothing. But if I teach people what I know I'll get a better chance for people to remember me one day as a master musician".
Manley teaches since year 2001 in Cuba. He's been a teacher in Italy, Belgium and France.
(text by Antoine Miniconi and Patrice Banchereau).