Monday, March 19, 2007

Catching Up With Salsa

I'm back after four weeks in the Far East, which saw me chomping my way through a myriad delicacies over Chinese New Year, and doing very little salsa. I only danced once and saw a club band on the night of my bro's birthday. When I came back, boy was I itching to get some music done.

During my absence, 4 de Diciembre has undergone some (planned) changes to both line-up and practice structure at least temporarily; triggered by our recording project and the possibility of my reduced involvement due to business commitments.

  • The band has split into two sections: percussion, rhythm and vocals; and melodics. The latter have been focussing their efforts on their arrangements in light of their upcoming recording; having mixdowns of the tracks has proved a vital catalyst. They've done a great job so far with the first tranche of four songs, which we were given the opportunity to listen to on Thursday past. In the former, Nathan's taken up the role of lead vocals, Dan's moving onto timbales, and we have a prospective new conguero called "Wib". It's too early to say yet how Wib will turn out, he's a trap-set drummer by training. From previous experience in teaching, I know it takes a while to get used to the hand drums and the Afrocuban idiom, so I'm hoping for the best.
  • On days when I'm not required as a conguero, I'll be moving onto tres. It will provide us with a further propulsive rhythm vamp that will complement Jeremy on piano; it's an instrument that I've wanted to play for a long time; it's portable so I can take it with me and still be able to keep in touch with our music (I anticipate having to travel quite a bit soon); and it gets me out from behind the congas when we have to gig. Maybe that last point wasn't a plus.
  • Recordings are starting again with Ana scheduled to lay down maracas tracks today, and Nathan the guiro tomorrow. Dan has this weekend free, so I'm hoping that we can lay down stronger piano and bass tracks or bongo bell, or both.
  • There's more equipment arriving this week: a second hard disk recorder, a reflexion shield, a Neumann TLM103, a Focusrite Liquid Channel, a couple of high capacity HDDs and assorted cables.
  • I've had a chance to work through the inspiraciones to our ninth song, and have bounced them back to Ana for amendment.
  • Still pending later this week is for me to sort out a basic montuno pattern for the chorus of our tenth song.

It's not all work. Christophe and Jane have offered to take me to see Alex Wilson in Derby on Friday, which was an opportunity I jumped at. That'll teach me for spending a month eating mom's home-cooked food!

A rather portly Loo