Santiago Garzon Rill

Chaguito has been a teacher, mentor and friend to Rich from The Axis since 1999. Rich has visited Chago in Havana on many occasions and in 2010 introduced him Dave and Simon when the trio visited Havana for the first time. The Axis have studied with Chaguito in Cuba a couple of times now with a third trip planned next year. As well as studying many variants of rumba with Chaguito The Axis have explored Chaguito's eastern Cuban heritage through the study of styles like Tumba francesa and monton polo. The Axis have also spent a lot of time playing Bata drums with Chaguito's son Frank. 

In many ways Chaguito is a unique percussionist in Cuba. He is intimitately aquainted with much traditional Afro Cuban music but is also very creative and progressive in his approach to his music. He operates with a strong concept in all he creates and brings a lot of flare, style and originality to the composition and performance of his music. 

Although not a member of The Axis Trio it is fair to say that The Axis would not exist without Chaguito's input, musical creativity and guidance. 


Chaguito has lived his whole life as a percussionist, composer, singer and bandleader in the country that has given the world the conga drum.  A rumbero from Guantanamo living in Havana, Cuba, he currently leads and composes for his group “Chaguito Y Sus Timberos”. He plays all of the traditional Cuban percussion instruments.


Chaguito grew up with the authentic voice of the conga drum in his ears. He speaks its language fluently. As a child he would join in “the Sundays of Rumba” in the barrios near his home and with the rhythms and songs that he heard on the streets rolling round his mind he would lie in bed tapping out drum parts for rumba and comparsa on the headboard. He learnt to play on the streets and has gone on to add to the vocabulary of Cuban drumming with his own innovations in technique, original compositions and fusions.


A well-respected musician, Chaguito has played with some of the finest bands in Cuba with whom he has toured countries all round the world. He led his first group ‘Chekere’ in 1975 and then went onto to play percussion in ‘Muntanta’, and ‘The Conjunto Folklorico de Guantanamo’. During the 80’s he was director of the group ‘Rumbata’ which while resident at the Caberet Hanoi accompanied many visiting artists including Merceditas Valdez.


After Chaguito moved to Havana in 1994 he started playing with the famous rumba group ‘Clave Y Guaguanco’ with whom he wrote, arranged and performed. He was also the musical director, percussionist and vocalist in the group ‘Rumberos de Cuba’ for a short time and has since worked as an independent. This has given him the freedom to stretch his creativity even further. 1999 saw the beginning of his strong links with the UK when he recorded, gigged and taught with the Manchester based group La Timbala.


In 2006 he guested on a European tour with ‘El Grupo Compay Segundo’ and his song “La muerte impía.Homenaje a Compay segundo╦Ł featured on their Grammy nominated album : “Hasta siempre Compay”,


Chaguito has made two DVDs of his own compositions with the American company Boogalu Productions.  He also worked with the UK band ‘Más Y Más’ in Havana 2008 as percussionist, arranger and co writer on their album ‘La Bala’.


Chaguito is a very accomplished and popular teacher with many pupils traveling from Europe and the USA to study with him.  At the heart of his playing and everything that Chaguito does seems to be his guiding principle:

“The most important thing is to relax… always remember the message of the clave:                                                                                                "Tran-qui-lo      Rel-ax!”


For more info on Chaguito's involvement with Mas Y Mas contact