Rhythm is one of the most powerful forces in music, with the beat and meter providing both the framework and glue for many musical styles. Rhythm even reflects our own human existence, which begins with rhythmic heartbeats. In filmmaker Eve A. Ma’s music documentary, rhythm is manifested through the hands and voices of very talented Peruvian masters – percussionists Lal [sic] Izquierdo, Juan Medrano Cotito, and Freddy HuevitoLobotón [sic], backed by guitarist Coco Linares – who demonstrate the strong beats of the country’s Afro-Peruvian culture. Along with the music, the history of the songs and beats are also explained by the musicians (some stem from “code” during times of slavery). Mostly played on the cajón (a rectangular percussion hand drum), the beats sometimes feature counter-rhythms and poly-rhythms, and at other times are in total synchronization, creating a powerful foundation for vocals, instrumentation (like acoustic guitar), and, of course, dance. In one such dance, called a zapateo, the rhythms are performed by dancers using techniques that some may recognize as having a kinship with tap dance. Filmed close-up, this is an intimate portrait of the master practitioners of the rhythmic music central to Afro-Peruvian heritage. Highly recommended. Aud: C,P.

- C. Block for Video Librarian (Nov.-Dec. 2016) - 3 ½ stars out of a possible 4


Masters of Rhythm is a rare and delightful glimpse into Afro-Peru from the perspective of some of her most important rhythmists: LaloIzquierdo, Huevito yCotito. In under thirty minutes, the film miraculously manages to capture the artistry, love and philosophy that inform their world and their urgent, unifying, uplifting cultural work. They are truly master artists and heroes along with the great Peruvian guitarist/composer, Coco Linares, who also figures prominently in this snapshot.

- John Santos, six times Grammy nominee and faculty, California Jazz Conservatory


A brief but insightful look at Afro-Peruvian music and dance through the lens of percussion, Masters of Rhythm employs interviews and performances to introduce viewers to the cajón as well as other percussion instruments, and to showcase the prodigious talents of three true masters of Afro-Peruvian rhythm.

Director/producer Eve. A. Ma (A Zest for Life: Afro-Peruvian Rhythms, A Source of Latin Jazz (2010), Flamenco: The Land is Still Fertile) travels to Lima, Peru to interview three legendary cajón players—Juan Medrano Cotito, Freddy HuevitoLobatón Beltran and LaloIzquierdo—who recall childhoods steeped in music and dance, family gatherings and neighborhood celebrations where they felt the call to take up the cajón at an early age. They list the primary Afro-Peruvian percussion instruments: cajón, cajita, quijada de burro, zapateo, palmas and guapeo (all except the cajita make an appearance here); explain how some rhythmic patterns found in modern Afro-Peruvian music originate from the days of slavery, when they were used to communicate messages over long distances; and discuss the influence of Afro-Peruvian rhythms on modern Latin jazz and flamenco.

But the heart of the documentary belongs to this trio of musicians in their element—playing, singing and dancing with masterful technique, infectious joy and verve. The energy in these performances is palpable, and will leave viewers wanting to see, hear and know more about this style of music.

Lively in tone and pace, with clean video editing and good audio throughout, Masters of Rhythm is a fine choice especially for academic libraries supporting programs in world music and percussion performance, and would work well in a classroom situation. In Spanish and English, with English subtitles.

- Barbara J. Waters, Longmont Public Library, CO for EMRO (Educational Media Reviews On-Line) , 6/7/2016


Long after the last credit roll of the film has faded to black you can still hear the pulsating rhythm of the cajon. Masters of Rhythm with addendum is a fun film to watch. It has all the elements of a classic master art workshop: exotic location, master instructors, and a wealth of information about the craft.

For many people the South American country of Peru is a vacation destination to see the Amazon rainforest and ancient Incan city ruins in the Andes mountains. Masters of Rhythm with addendum explores uncharted territory not about scenic trips up the Amazon but rather, an upbeat and rhythmic journey off-trail to the heartland of Afro-Peruvian music and culture. Our tour guides for navigating the free flowing rhythms of the journey are three master percussionists of Afro-Peruvian music: Cotito, Huevito, and LaloIzquierdo. These three master percussionist share similar anecdotes from their childhood about their introduction to the cajon and the fancy footwork of the zapateo dance form. Since much of what is learned and passed along as culture and tradition starts in the home, it’s fitting that the first segment of the film is staged in the intimate setting of a home or apartment.

From this up close and personal vantage point the viewer is treated to a whirlwind of frenetic energy encompassing the historical significance and meaning associated with the rhythmic beats of the cajon dating back to the arrival of African slaves in the country. One of the most entertaining and mesmerizing features of the film is the master demonstration of the fancy footwork and body gestures involved with zapateo. This film delivers big on entertainment, art and culture, education and the urgency surrounding stewardship and preservation of cultural traditions. A must see calendar event for the entire family.

- Hershell West, former board chair, ProArts of Northern California


It was a pleasure tolisten to themasterful cajonplayers and their dancing was especially ajoy to watch. Eve's narration gave us a sense of the universal human rhythms that theirdrummingconnects with as well as the uniqueness of theculture ofAfro Peruvian music and danceand it'sorigins.

- Lisa Greenstein, artist, member of ProArts, Latin jazz lover and movie-goer