I’ve always said it’s important to listen to and play all styles of music. Let’s face it, if you plan to make a living as a drummer you might have to play one or two weddings or two or three casuals – or as we call them down south: society gigs. And you’ll probably end up playing in a band that does Latin music where you’ll be expected to nail a samba, which, in my opinion, is the mother of all Latin rhythms.
“Listen deep within. Listen to the dance.” This was told to me by a great drummer of Latin descent named Alonzo Alonzo (Double A, for short). I would go over to his house and we would listen to all kinds of Latin music, watch videos and then sit down and play the rhythms. “Clave, clave!” he would yell out, and the room would be filled with emotion.
The clave is in just about everything. When I played with Kenny Loggins there was a song called “Isabel Eyes” that had a big Latin percussion breakdown. Even Tower Of Power uses clave on “Soul Vaccination” off of the Tower Of Power CD. Sheila E and the whole Escovedo family, the Reyes family, Joey Heredia, Luis Conte, Lenny Castro – the list goes on and on – all of these players are keeping the flavor of Latin music alive in the pop world, and God bless them for it.
The following examples are some of the sambas I work on to keep my toes in the Latin world (although Ex. 4 is more of a bossa nova feel). Dig in and try ’em out for yourself.