Santana’s Karl Perazzo & Raul Rekow
(Left) Raul Rekow
DRUM!: Raul, do you agree? Was your connection that immediate?
Rekow: Definitely, it was. And I can take it back further than that. Just before he came into the Santana band, I was doing a gig over at Caesar’s Latin Palace in San Francisco, and Karl was substituting one night. Right from the very beginning, the first note, we knew that we were compatible. It is something very special that Karl and I have. To be able to play in synch, first of all, is one form of independence. Karl and I have worked out routines where we play the rhythm, improvise on top of the rhythm, sing the chorus, and then sing the lead as well. To put all that together with two people, we’re covering the ground of at least five or six people. So to be able to carry that big a load, and not drop it, is incredible.
Dennis, The Third Right Arm
DRUM!: Now that you’ve got Dennis Chambers behind the kit, has he changed your approach to collaborating together as a unit?
Rekow: It doesn’t really change what Karl and I do, so much. It actually makes our job easier.
Perazzo: Yeah, it frees us up a little bit. We don’t really have to play as much, wouldn’t you say?
Rekow: Absolutely. It makes it easier, because we’re all carrying the load equally. It’s distributed equally. That’s another thing about that tape I was watching the other night, because I saw Graham Lear on drums, and [José] Chepitó [Areas]. And I’m thinking back about the drummers in the band. Rodney Holmes, Walfredo Reyes, Billy Johnson, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Ricky Wellman, and now Dennis Chambers. I mean, that lineage of drummers, we’re so honored to have played with all of these incredible drummers. Each one of them is, for me, within the top five or ten drummers in the world, you know? Playing with Dennis is definitely something that Karl and I have looked forward to. We had our first real opportunity to play with him on Let’s Set The Record Straight by Tom Coster.
DRUM!: Did you rehearse much with Dennis before doing sessions for the album? Did you feel him out a little?
Perazzo: We had a couple days of rehearsal, but not to feel him out. We wanted to oblige him, you know. We’re not saying, “When you come here, this is how it’s supposed to be.” I mean, we have to change for him too, you know. But we felt that his playing and timing was so strong, we had maybe a day and a half of rehearsal and went right into the studio. And we recorded a number of tunes, and they all came out great. I think a couple of them will make it on the record.
DRUM!: What impresses you most about Dennis’s drumming?
Perazzo: His tone is so big, his sound is like … man. That’s one of the first things I noticed. Obviously, he comes from Parliament, so that carries all of that.
Rekow: The other thing is, the Baltimore trio – Carter Beauford, Ricky Wellman, and Dennis Chambers – those three have a big sound. The kick drum and the snare, there’s no question as to where the time is, for all three of them.
Perazzo: Yeah, those guys are brutal, man. And I learned right away just how easy it is to play with Dennis. He’s a big listener. He has a good sense of when Raul and I are going to do a fill, he has a really good insight into that. Or he’ll just say very humbly, “You take it.” And I’m like, “Dude, you’re Dennis Chambers. You can do that one-handed.”
DRUM!: Dennis has done all of this amazingly complex stuff with other artists, and it’s all from memory, it’s all ears. No chart reading.
Perazzo: I think that’s just the gift of God, the ability to hear like that. That’s how Raul and I study. We’re not big readers.
Rekow: On that same note, Buddy Rich couldn’t read music either. Reading music is definitely an advantage, but then again, you can make it a disadvantage. Some people choose not to make it a disadvantage; Dennis is one, Carlos is another. Myself, I don’t read – well, I can read, but not very well. I can’t sight read. I have to sit there and decipher things. So it’s easier for me to just listen to it and learn it that way. And Dennis is the type of guy, kind of like Buddy Rich, if you play him the song one time, the next time around he’ll hit it and he’ll catch all the punches, all the fills, all the breaks. [sighs] Incredible ears.
Perazzo: I read. I’m kind of a mediocre reader, but it’s something that I want to do. I went my whole life not knowing a lick of music. People ask me, “Man, what is that? Is that in seven? What are you doing?” I don’t know. I just play, that’s it. Now that Raul and I are doing more clinics, and we have a video coming out [Supernatural Rhythms and Grooves], I felt that I needed to challenge myself and take some classes on reading, and maybe dip into melodic piano and all that.