One of the first of a string of Cuban drummers to make an impact on American music, Francisco Aguabella immigrated to the States in 1957 and recorded with Peggy Lee, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, and Carlos Santana. Local label Cubop has just remastered and reissued the Latin legend's 1970 album Hard Hitting -- a difficult-to-find rare groove masterpiece that brings together Latin jazz, soul, traditional Brazilian music, and no-nonsense funk in a sweaty alliance that easily rivals that of other '70s mavericks like Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers (whose rare reissues are also available on Cubop). Aguabella makes an unusual live appearance at the Elbo Room on Thursday, Dec. 10, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 552-7788. He also appears at Mr. E's in Berkeley on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12; call (510) 848-2009. And at Fuel 44 in San Jose on Sunday, Dec. 13; call (408) 295-7374.
There is a certain distorted romanticism in the work of Max Aguilera-Hellweg. While other photographers strive to capture their subjects in private expressions of emotion, Aguilera-Hellweg seeks something far more intimate. He wants to know what's going on inside, behind the thoughts and the protective shells. He deserts the trappings and the affectations, scrutinizing only the inner body, shining light into cavities meant, by nature, to remain dark and protected. His work is not pretty -- invasive surgery is violent, bloody, and relentless -- but it is artful. Aguilera-Hellweg clearly respects and admires his subject matter -- he recently gave up 20 years in photojournalism to enroll in medical school -- and his photographs express the artist's privilege in entry. "The Sacred Heart: An Atlas of the Body Seen Through Invasive Surgery" will be shown at S.F. Camerawork from Friday, Dec. 11, through Jan. 30, with a lecture by Aguilera-Hellweg held there on Jan. 8 at 5:30 p.m. Call 764-1001. Also on display is "Eternity or What?," Hiro Yamagata's study of single-cell organisms.
When Rene Herrera left Cuba in a rowboat with his wife and young daughter, he also left behind a prominent musical career with the Cuban Symphony. Why he decided to land in Richmond, Va., is anyone's guess; Richmond might be a hotbed of hot jazz, but there are probably fewer than five salsa bands in that city. Strangely enough, while Herrera was planning his journey, seven suave Virginia boys were learning Afro-Cuban licks off a stack of old records. By the time Herrera arrived, the Latin swing group was playing small clubs, just waiting for someone to take the helm, so to speak. Herrera was that man. Since he joined, Bio Ritmo has crossed the country with the Squirrel Nut Zippers (of course), G-Love & Special Sauce, Wilco, and Tito Puente. They sizzle, they swing, they make your living room feel like the Copacabana. Bio Ritmo performs at Cafe Du Nord on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 14 and 15, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 861-5016.