Tuesday, July 29, 2008

School's Out

Okay, I know that I haven't blogged in nearly two months... actually I have an Oscar D'León review in draft form that, when I get it into a state where I can hit the "publish post" button, will precede this one. It might appear that I'm playing with time.

The reason for my absence? Copious quantitites of salsa-related activity of course.

Foremost is Facebook. I've been developing 4 de Diciembre's profile page as well as the salsa band's fan page. It's still very much a work in progress - I think it always will be, but the effort is informing the layout of Cuatro de Diciembre's pages on my personal website, hence the lack of activity on that front for now. Gaining a large number of friends has helped my understanding of numerous properties of the social networking phenomenon which I would not have known had I been using my own smaller profile page. Nothing's ever a chore when I'm learning.

Added to this is my resurgent effort at becoming a timba conguero. Sometime in between last month's post and this one, I came at last to believe that playing congas in the songo manner was personally attainable. Prior to this, I wasn't sure that I had it in me to play with the fluidity and musicality that the best Cuban congueros do, their having been steeped in their own special rhythms from the womb. That Eureka moment has had me playing more intensively now than at any other time previously in my development. It has meant that I had to design my own tools for the self-teaching process, including compiling two timba practice CDs - no small feat in themselves as it required me to rate my entire CD backlog (two and a half years' worth) and sort and collate the information, beforehand.

I'm also a significant way into Katherine Hagedorn's spectacular book "Divine Utterances" on AfroCuban religion which I will no doubt review later. Throw in a couple of DVDs: Los Van Van's "Aquí Que Baila El Gana" concert in Cuba, and the Docu-movie "Cuba Feliz" and you've got a pretty good snapshot of I've been up to.

Oh, yes. We managed to complete recording Mike on trombone, and I've been contracted to run a 10-week dance training course from late September. All that has necessitated a lot of planning and scheduling, some of which is still being finalised.

In the meanwhile, band practices have been scaled back to once a week over the summer. This will change come October as we have a couple of gigs lined up soon after, when everyone's back 'at school'.