As a studio percussionist, you have to not only be accurate, play in time, have the right sounds and equipment, but also be able to think quickly and decipher what the artist or producer wants and perform it with confidence and conviction. I recently was in a session for a major artist who wanted congas on a funky dance track. My instructions were merely, “play a groove like that B.T. Express song.”
The next thing is to know your music, grooves, and history. I immediately knew he was referring to the funk/disco hit “Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied)” and was able to emulate a groove that fit perfectly in the artist’s “mind’s ear.”
Here is the original conga groove from the track, as well as a couple variations that I laid down for the session.
O = Open Tone
+ = Muffled Ghost Stroke
S = Slap