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Descarga Commentary by Zeno Okeanos
Boogalu Associate Producer

Boogalu Productions is ever expanding its horizons to include more and more of those scenes you always wished you could see first hand.  Musically speaking, the descarga, or Cuban jam session, as it is often called, has long been a favorite of Latin music fans, record collectors, and autodidacts everywhere. That is a fancy word for people, like myself, who sit with bongos or congas in front of the stereo in order to teach themselves through the vicarious experience of playing alongside more advanced performers.  Not to say that a jamming descarga is not also  conducive to dancing or just a very exciting listening experience. Descarga tempos can be interpreted as "bailable".

The extended solos and the fiery emotional release that this form can generate is both infectious to the participating musicians as well as the audience.  What could be more exciting than watching and hearing musicians doing what they themselves enjoy the most, "stretching out" as they feel it, to their heart's content, without the usual time restraints or "commercial" considerations?

With this current Boogalu project we have added the hitherto missing visual element to just such an authentic Cuban descarga recording. A picture is worth a thousand notes and now you have before you both the audio and the video. You can learn from hearing and from simultaneous seeing - and what a spectacle it is - the next best thing to actually being there.

By the way, there are plenty of close shots of hands on instruments so you can really see what is going on. You will also enjoy watching the casual camaraderie among the musicians, before, during, and after each session.

The emphasis is on instrumental solos, but not without some vocal elements and coro as well to spice things up and to keep a reference to the traditions. In addition to percussion (tumbadoras, timbal, bongo, bata, cajon, clave, campana, guiro, guira,  and shekere) there is piano, flauta, tres guitar, trompeta, and upright string bass. You will see and hear extended solos by the flute, the piano, trumpet, tres, bass, and, of course, all the percussion.

Some of the many highlights to look for are the advanced conga drum solos by "Panga" and the totally inspired bongo solos by the leader "Chaguito" who also composed and arranged the whole session.  Fans of the traditional wooden flute will hear one of its masters, Melquiades Fundora, who was an original member of Orq. Sublime in 1956!  Other highlights are solos by pianist Angel Labori, tres guitar by Esconodio Padilla, trumpet by Juan Carlos Tito Rojas, timbales by Alberto Muguercia, bongo by Luis Enrique "Kiki" Romero, and bass by Armando Fuentes.

In addition to the cha cha chá (destined to be a hit in its own right), the son, the son montuno, and the conga, as take off points for these descargas, Chaguito has arranged many inventive combinatorial pieces which utilize an extended range of Cuban percussion traditions. This includes pilon, mozambique, bata-rumba with cajon, rumba guarapachangeo, and bembe. During the bembe piece, for example, you will witness something quite unique in one section - both Chaguito and Panga playing lead conga drum phrases with one hand while holding clave with the other.

After this gets out, I cannot imagine that every percussionist around the world will not be challenging themselves with this little exercise, to learn, as we always seem to be doing, from the many accomplishments of our Cuban brothers and sisters.

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