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Balu with Toto Berriel


Balu is comprised of several performers


Esteemed Cuban percussionist and singer Israel "Toto" Berriel comes to us from Los Muñequitos de Matanzas; he was one of the Rumba All-stars that played on the 2001 Latin Grammy-winning album, La Rumba Soy Yo.

Balu?Toto, a native of the city of Matanzas, Cuba , began his professional music career as a member of “Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas” in 1988. After two yearswith AfroCuba, Toto was invited to join the ranks of world famous “LOSMUÑEQUITOS DE MATANZAS”, unexpectedly following in his father’s footsteps. As a youngster, Toto dreamed of becoming a percussionist and pursued his studies with drums in mind. A naturally gifted vocalist with a distinctive sound, the singer in Toto was rapidly discovered and put to use in the world’s best-known Rumba group.

In over a decade with LOS MUNEQUITOS, Toto has toured worldwide, singing, playing and teaching classes. His easy charm, curious mind and characteristic Cuban warmth place Toto affectionately in the minds and hearts of his students, creating a comfortable and productive working environment.

In the past decade, Toto has shared the stage with many greats including Herbie Hancock, Los Van Van and Irakere. He has also played and recorded with Bomba!

Although Toto is deeply steeped in the AfroCuban traditions, he also plays joyfully with the influences of Cuban popular music, American jazz, soul and funk.


Alberto PhotoIn the picture at the right you can see Alberto with Oscar Lopez on our stage May 3, 2008.

Alberto San Martin developed his deeply ingrained passion for music, while still a child growing up in his native Chile. He would do anything to have time for his music and even managed to get his math teacher to teach him guitar.

Since arriving in Calgary in 1979, Alberto has been involved in various musical groups, performing a diverse array of Latin musical genres, in the capacities of musician, singer, composer and director. He is a graduate from the jazz program at Grant McEwan College in Edmonton, having studied guitar and composition. A significant highlight of his professional career is being awarded the prestigious Juno award in 1993 for his work on the album “El Camino Real”, recorded by the renowned Latin American group, “Ancient Cultures”.

His current repertoire is a collection of  original compositions infused Latin and South American rhythms and sounds. These most recent compositions are primarily performed by Alberto on guitar, but feature other indigenous South American instruments, such as zampoñas, queñas, and charango.

Over the years, He has played in coffee houses, released four CD’s as part of the groups Ancient Cultures and BC Salsa and played with well know recording artists, Oscar Lopez and Israel “Toto” Berriel of Los Muñequitos. Additionally, Alberto has been the musical director of the tropical band Barrio Sound and Balu duo for ten years. However, he has recently been inspired to create a new sound, with his composition of original melodies – a blend of Latin percussion rhythms infused with Cuban, South American and Jazz influences. His new CD which is a compilation of these original and eclectic Latin sounds, will be released in June of 2008,

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