Rock and Afro-Cuban

Rock & Afro-Cuban

Coming to a lesson prepared is an awesome feeling. You’re ready to drum with confidence, knowing you put in long hours taking yourself through many stages until the magic happens but what about those times when you know your going to have to play that crazy reading exercise and there’s NO FAKING IT AND NO WAY OUT!

Coming to a lesson prepared is an awesome feeling. You’re ready to drum with confidence, knowing you put in long hours taking yourself through many stages until the magic happens but what about those times when you know your going to have to play that crazy reading exercise and there’s NO FAKING IT AND NO WAY OUT!

TDS @ Drummers Collective Day 7

I was rested and ready to jump into what I felt was the class I was least prepared for. Was I going to have a Bluesy Tuesday? Last week I said “suit up and show up, no matter what” and once again, that’s exactly what I had to do. Fortunately, we had our Afro- Cuban class first.

I “REALLY” enjoy Afro-Cuban music and it’s history. Our instructor Mr Vince Cherico, is awesome and patient. Today we worked up Groove Mechanics for the 2-3 Danzon to Cha-Cha-Cha 8 Bar Exercise with the Abanico (Classic Timbale fill) and the 2-3 Cascara to Mambo Bell 8 Bar Exercise also with the Abanico and reverse Abanico. We went on to play the Danzon(Baqueteo)2-3, the Cha Cha Cha pattern, the Son Montuno – Cascara 2-3, Son Montuno – Mambo Bell 2-3 and the Son Montuno- Bongo Bell 2-3.

We had sooo much fun learning these luscious grooves. It’s very interesting how the Afro-Cuban percussionist work so well together. Each has their own unique parts that support the whole groove, so each player has to be spot on with timing and interpretation. Last week we did some of these patterns on timbales and bells, this week we put them all on the drumset and boy was it kool. If you think about it the drumset is a relatively young instrument who’s origins are from the early 1900’s. Only a little over a hundred years but it feel like they’ve ben around for centuries.

So we took these parts and applied them to the drumset in two ways. 1) thinking of a drummer and Congo player and 2) without Conga player. In essence we’re covering 3 distinct parts ( Congas, Timbales, Guiro) that are usually played by three different players. Needless to say, this is a challenge but a welcome one indeed. I can’t describe to you the feeling of the groove when it locks in with the rest of the instruments. You’ll have to try it to feel it for yourself. AWESOME!

Our next adventure was with the resident “Rock it” scientist, the once and only Sandy Gennero. Sandy has had an long and extensive career, performing with Bo Diddley and Cyndi Lauper and others. There was no hiding in this class, Sandy immediately had each of us jump on a drumset and went through ALL the homework exercises. I’ll give you an example of what we had to do.

Create a 1 bar groove pattern  of our choice and play it with 8’s on the Ride, 8’s & 4’s HiHat, than 4’s Ride, 8’s and 4’s HiHat, (now it really gets crazy) Go on to Upbeat 4’s in the Ride with 8’s & 4’s in HiHat BUT WAIT IT GETS CRAZIER. Now do everything you just did with the OPPOSITE HAND  AAAAAAHHHHHHHH.

After that awesomely crazy madness, we did another brain twister by reading 1 bar 16th note bass drum grooves and doing those crazy cymbal patterns over them, including One-Handed 16th Ride and alternating 16th’s on the HiHat.

The beauty of it is that after you can perform these types of exercises, you’re ability to read and play unusual rhythmic pattern becomes much easier to work up, plus I was forced to count so my reading skills get a really good workout. I survived and did way better than I thought. All that worrying for what I was sure was doomsday turned out fine after taking a few deep slow breaths and a couple prayers.

I live and learned and it turned out to be another very good day!

Kris Russell