Messing with the drumming formula that had already helped keep the band alive from the ’60s to the ’90s might have been a risk, but with the addition of Quiñones in 1991, Jaimoe and Trucks discovered a liberating feeling that they’d been craving for a long time. “Marc gives me freedom,” Jaimoe says. “When I used to play percussion, I would sit completely on the side of the stage. Because I couldn’t hear the instruments, however, my hands used to get bloody just making sure they could be heard, and listening back on tape you still couldn’t hear the stuff, so I stopped playing it.
“Butch always wanted someone playing on congas or timbales over the years. It wasn’t like we were looking for a percussionist, but then when Butch heard Marc he was like, ’There he is.’ With Marc there, it gave me a chance to hear all kinds of stuff like I’d heard with Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie’s band – that’s the freedom I’m talking about. All kinds of things I’d heard over the years. My playing is triggered by what I hear, and if I don’t hear it, I don’t force the issue.”
Jaimoe’s Jam Kit
1. 18" x 18" Bass Drum
2. 14" x 5" Snare
3. 12" x 10" Tom
4. 10" x 9" Tom
5. 8" x 8" Tom
6. 15" x 14" Floor Tom
A. 16" field cymbal with bell up and 2 rivets (bottom), K Hi-Hats (top)
B. 18" A Medium Thin Crash Brilliant
C. 16" K Thin Crash Brilliant
D. 22" K Heavy Ride
E. 19" K Thin Crash
Jaimoe also uses Yamaha and Pearl hardware, Pearl Eliminator bass pedal and hi-hat, Remo and Evans heads, Vic Firth Jaimoe model sticks.
Quiñones was a young percussionist on the fast track in the salsa, jazz, and rock world when Trucks first heard him, with credits ranging from David Byrne to Spyro Gyra and beyond. “What we were looking for was a percussionist with musicality and power,” Trucks says. “Then I saw this guy playing with Spyro Gyra live in Tallahassee, Florida, and he played louder than the whole band – he blew them off the stage. I said, ’Man, I’m stealing your ass.’”
Trucks came backstage, sauntered up to Quiñones, declared that he was about to become his new employer, and left. Quiñones, for his part, was not as blown away by this sudden stroke of luck as most other working musicians might have been. “I said, ’Who the hell is Butch Trucks, and who are the Allman Brothers?’” he recalls, laughing. “I had no idea who they were! You don’t get too much rock and roll in the South Bronx. I had no idea what the music was, but they say that it was a good thing, because I came in with no preconceived notions of what to play. Every time we’d have a rehearsal, they’d look at me and I’d just sit back and see where I could fit.”
Twelve years later, it’s apparent that Quiñones fits, and the result is a three-man drumming unit with a very firm grasp of how to jam. “I come from the salsa school of music – I’m used to working with other percussionists, having other drums going on,” says Quiñones. “We’ll all start with a base, and you have to listen to what’s going on, you can’t just play. I’ll throw a lick into an opening. I’ll hear Jaimoe play something interesting and I’ll answer him. There really is no structure. We just take it as it comes along.
“A lot of drummers can’t do it [jam] because they don’t listen. It’s all about listening and being open to the fact that you’re not the only drummer in the band. If you’re the only drummer in the band everything relies on you. [But if I’m there], I can free you up to play things you hear that you couldn’t otherwise play, because you’d have to jump off of percussion and limit yourself on drum set. When you’re the sole drummer, you can’t do all of that.”
Jaimoe is quietly nodding his head in agreement, and then extends a thought. “Not only that,” he says, “but when you’re a single drummer you have to think about how musicians think in a band, how they react to certain things. The first thing I’d do if Butch weren’t there is tune my drums down, because the way my drums are tuned are as a percussion kit, not a drum-set kit. If this were the only drum set, people would think it sounds funny. So you have to think about what makes this band sound much fuller.”