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Cuban Bass

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Don Higdon, Apr 29, 2002.


  1. I picked up a CD by the Afro Cuban All Stars - Distinto, Diferente.
    Bassist Ricardo Munoz (with a tilde) is totally f***ing nuts, and I mean that in the nicest way. He is all over the place, everywhere but on one. He does not overplay, like some BG heros. Just funky bombs. Adding to the time challenge, this band does not keep a cowbell or anyone else consistently on one. I don't know if this is typical of Cuban, as opposed to Puerto Rican, rhythm sections. Anybody out there with knowledge? Munoz is right up there with my latin bass hero, Victor Venegas (Mongo's band).
    And the brass sections are blowing these wild figures with amazing precision.
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    My band plays a lot of Cuban music - I've seen the Afro Cuban All Stars live in my home town twice as well! Great stuff! Always incredible musicians.

    You say ". Adding to the time challenge, this band does not keep a cowbell or anyone else consistently on one. I don't know if this is typical of Cuban, as opposed to Puerto Rican, rhythm sections."

    The typical Cuban rhythm section would probably have someone playing guiro on 1 but it depends on the style - there are many Cuban styles of music -Son, Bolero, Guaracha etc.

    But the one "constant" would be the 2-bar clave pattern - either 2-3 or 3-2.

    I found 3 books that are very helpful for playing Cuban style bass - all good stuff - lots of notation!

    "The True Cuban Bass" by Carlos Del Puerto
    "The Latin Bass Book" by Oscar Stagnaro

    ...and the "Sher Latin Real Book" is very good for repertoire, arrangements and explanations of the different rhythms.

    Son Montuno is probably the most typical Afro Cuban style which has 2-3 clave, a "cascara" pattern on timbales and different conga patterns. Bass would definitely avoid the 1 and tie from beat 4 across the bar - coming back on the and of 2 or 3.
     
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I just thought - if it is actually the percussion in which you are primarily interested, I have a great book by "Birger Sulsbruck" (with a tape) called :

    "Latin American Percussion Rhythms and Rhythm Instruments from Cuba and Brazil".

    This has loads of percussion notation for Cuban rhythms and I have programmed many of them into my drum machine to practice playing bass lines on this style of music.
     
  4. I'm familiar with the use of the claves. My point about this one particular tune is that nobody stays fixed on any beat - everybody wanders off at some point. It's testimony to everyone's fabulous sense of time that the whole thing doesn't disintegrate. As I think about it, the clave is rarely heard on this CD.
    Some old cats in this band. Nice to see that they can still burn.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I have heard that sometimes the clave is "implied" or felt - having seen these guys at close quarters, they are amazing for their (collective) ages!

    I bet they could feel some of these complex polyrhythms in their sleep! I did notice that they all seemed to be able to dance - even those in their 70s & 80s - I think this is how they do it! ;)
     
  6. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Woah! Don- Victor is an old friend and client-as a matter of fact he is the one who convinced me I should go into business for myself.
     
  7. Jeff Rollback -
    Victor's playing with Mongo knocked me out, woke me up to latin bass playing.
    A couple of years ago, I was told to see the Braham-Killian Project, a killer latin band from Newark. There was Victor. He was amazed that I remembered so much about his stuff with Mongo. I've since had the good fortune to work with that band's timbalist, Raul Paonessa, and its co-leader David Braham. I have a straight jazz gig with David tomorrow.
    Victor is one class-A gentleman.