From Ned Sublette:
At 6:45 a.m. today, June 3 2009, at 60 years of age, Jesús Alfonso Miró,
musical director of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, exceptional composer and
percussionist, died in his home town of Matanzas, Cuba. The only son of the
Alfonso Miró family, he was the father of 8 children, all dedicated to the
rumba as musicians or dancers. Two of them have been members of the
Muñequitos and at present, Freddy Jesús Alfonso Borges, a practitioner of
his father’s art, plays the quinto of the group and has begun to follow as
well in his path as the composer of heartfelt rumbas.
As a musician of Los Muñequitos Jesús traveled to almost all the continents.
Wherever he went he left friends and disciples. He shone on every stage he
played on, but he never forgot his roots and lived a full life, proud of his
lineage as a rumbero, enjoying the flavor of every corner of his barrio, la
Marina. Beginning at the age of seven, he participated as a musician and
dancer in the Comparsa La Imaliana, founded by his father and by Félix
Vinagera. For a time he was a member of the Orquesta de Música Moderna of
his city and of the Papa Goza group. From 1967 he was musical director and
quinto of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, a group which he profoundly loved and
to which he dedicated the greatest part of his life.
As a composer he was indispensable to the repertoire of the group, with his
works known worldwide. He was the author of “Congo Yambumba,” “La Llave,”
“Chino Guaguao,” “Lengua de Obbara,” “Saludo a Nueva York,” and many others
that are now classics of Cuban rumba. Prestigious interpreters including
Eddie Palmieri took note of his sabrosura and the popularity of his works,
including them on their records and mentioning him as indispensable to the
music of our continent.
When Jesús Alfonso was still very young, together with another of the great
figures of Los Muñequitos, Ricardo Cané, he went to the mountains of Cuba to
teach literacy to the people of the countryside, graduating later as a young
revolutionary teacher. For his great contributions to music and to his
community, he received the title of Hijo Ilustre (Illustrious Son) of
Jesús Alfonso, member of the Matanzas society Efí Irondó Itá Ibekó and
respectful observer of the regla de Osha, will be remembered by all his
community and especially by rumberos around the world. His name will never
be forgotten. His strong voice and the sound of his hands on the skins will
remain in the memory of those who knew him and recognize him as one of the
most celebrated musicians of all time, because Jesús was to the rumba as was
Cuní or Chapottín to the son. Jesús gave his entire life to the rumba. His
name is next to Chano, Tata, Papín, and all the greats of Cuban music.
Viewing will be in the place where Los Muñequitos de Matanzas rehearse every
day, at 7906 Matanzas Street, between Contrera and Milanés. After respects
are paid, he will be buried in the early hours tomorrow.
To his wife Dulce María Galup, to his children and other family members, to
Diosdado Ramos and all his compañeros in the rumba who have so much admired
him and are today feeling his loss, we send our heartfelt condolences.
As per Ned's List (Sublette)