Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week #10 of Cuban Music at Martini Beach !

It's been quite a stormy week here in southern N.J. and I'm looking forward to the sunny days that the Weather Channel is forecasting for this week. Still, the rainy days gave me some extra time to practice and read about Cuban musical history and styles, and to plan the Gil Thompson Cuban Jazz Duo's performance for this week at Martini Beach in Cape May (Wed. 7:00-10:00pm). Every week we work to add something new to our repertoire of Cuban music and Latin Jazz. Actually the majority of our music was originally written for and performed by large groups. The percussion section of a band which plays Afro-Cuban music usually has at least three members who perform on the Congas, Timbales and Hand Percussion instruments( Guiros, Claves, Shakers,etc.) My percussionist Dave and I spend a lot of our rehearsal time deciding what are the most important elements in the percussion part of each number, and condensing it into something that one person can play. This means that most songs have as many as three (or more) distinct rhythm parts being played at once by one musician (not an easy feat)! On the Piano, I handle the Bass part (tumbao), the Melody and when possible , the Montuno (rhythmic piano part) or Orchestral or Chordal parts. As a two man band we find ourselves really challenged sometimes to make it work, but at the same time, we both love the musical freedom that it gives us. Needless to say, that we never find ourselves bored by any of our numbers, no matter how many times we have played it in the past. Being Jazz musicians, we are always discovering something new in every song as far as Melody, Harmony, and even Rhythmic style (Afro-Cuban music has so many to choose from) ! Of course ,we also have a great audience and performance setting at Martini Beach. With the ocean view and the room decor, it's easy to imagine myself playing in a 1940's club in old Havana (sometimes I almost expect Ernest Hemingway to come through the door). Maybe I watch too many old movies like "To Have and Have Not" and "Islands In the Stream", but I think that you get the idea. Well, I guess it's time to call it a day, but I hope that you will join us on Wednesday at Martini Beach for another evening of Cuban Music.

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