Francisco "Pancho" Amat, an acknowledged master of the Cuban tres, invariably provokes comparison with tres legends like El Niño Rivera and Arsenio Rodriguéz.
Born in Havana province in 1950, Amat studied music formally, founded the group Manguaré in 1971 and led it for 17 years, during which time he and his compatriots served as international cultural ambassadors. In Manguaré's early days Amat studied in Chile and collaborated with nueva canción stalwarts Víctor Jara, Inti-Illimani, Isabel Parra and Quilapayún. He went on to study arrangement with Orquesta Aragón leader Rafael Lay, and elevated tres-playing to a new level by applying theory and technique gleaned from his mastery of classical, jazz and trova forms.
Amat is also a record and television producer, and has played with a diverse list of musical luminaries at home and abroad, including Adalberto Álvarez, the Chieftains, Ry Cooder, Cubanísmo, Alfredo de la Fé, Oscar D'Leon, Cesaria Evora, Giovanni Hidalgo, Mongo Santamaria, Yomo Toro, Barbarito Torres and Dave Valentín. Michael Stone