Pete & Sheila: It’s An E. Family Affair

Pete doesn’t want to be specific about who deserves credit or awards. If Latin jazz and Latin drumming are to survive, there needs to be some sense of recognition for all of the performers, especially the older ones. But this extends past just the Academy Awards. Now the young players must grab onto the history and bring it forward into the 21st century.

“I really like the idea that a lot of younger players are going back to the roots of the music and learning the history. A lot of them are not swayed by the fact that you have to really go commercial,” Pete explains. “I think if they can really go back and look at what a lot of the older guys have set forth for them, that would be nice. I think the future probably would mean that a lot of them are probably going to have to take chances and try and go further with the music. Experiment, take it somewhere else, build on it, take some chances and don’t get stuck in the background or going with the flow or what’s happening this year. Just try to take the music somewhere else.”

And so this family continues to prove to the world, by example, that music is important, and that harboring a sense of music and art in the family is, perhaps, the most important thing one can have in the household. Sheila now has a line of percussion for kids called the Sheila E. Player Kids Series, designed by her and Toca Percussion. By bringing real drums, not toys, into the home, Sheila hopes to educate kids and meld music and family, just like in her household.

“We’re just trying to help them, encourage parents to spend more time with their kids in the home, and establish a relationship,” she explains. “So our family, as a whole, is constantly working at trying to educate the kids and let them know it’s okay to learn and play drums.”

It’s evident that, for the Escovedos, their world isn’t so much about drumming as it is about family, entertainment, and, most importantly, commitment to their art. But it’s the drumming that holds them together and focuses their talents – keeps them in our minds. Without the drumming, there would be no Escovedo clan to make us wish we had more music in our own homes.

But they seem to know that too.

“[It’s important] when you listen back to it and the groove is there,” Pete says. “That’s the first thing: As drummers, it’s that pulse that really tells the story for us. That’s the important thing for us, because we’re drummers, we like to feel the song. And by feeling the song, that rhythm has to be really strong. We have to lay that down. We have to lock that in with the bass player, and whoever plays bass or whoever plays the rest of the instruments, we build those things on top of whatever we do so that the basic fundamental of the rhythm section is what really makes the thing happen. So that’s the strong point, that we feel that pulse together, like one heartbeat all on that one beat that makes it all work.”

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