A cold bolt of realisation struck me right between the eyes last night. We're doing a dual birthday gig in the middle of next month and we haven't prepared a Happy Birthday song yet. Gawd.
I've been expending my energies (wearing my music director's hat) on a playlist of two strong sets and this important detail has managed to slip my mind. We could do the traditional short one, but I'd want us to do better than that. And we've got another gig this weekend first. Talk about being a glutton for punishment. And let's not even get started on my abortive tap-dance effort yesterday.
The toughest bit I anticipate will be overcoming our pianist's resistance to doing songs like these. He's never come out and said why. I guess I'm on my own working out the montuno pattern then.
Actually it's not as bad as all that; a couple of years songwriting and arranging has given me the ability to play all the parts to play in my head. Happy Birthday is in 3/4 time, and I reckon the most effective version for our setup would be a tumbao moderno variant to 2-3 rumba clave and a II-V-I-I piano montuno progression. That'll be my job tonight before band practice.
I'll lock down the bass groove later as I'm not clear how to fill the pocket between each line of "happy birthday, to you" yet. It'll be good but not earth-shaking given the short lead time, but I expect it to form good basis for a timba version later on. The lyrical theme will expand too, and I think we'll end up with a bilingual and a Spanish version.
Watch this space Birthday people!