OK. mañana I head back to my bunker in an undisclosed tropical location to complete the new album, "Directamente al mambo." While I was here in California to spend Christmas with my family, I re-recorded all the piano tracks with my lovely acoustic Yamaha C-3 6'1" grand. Now, all I need are coros and lead vocals, a few solos, and it's ready to mix.
Stay tuned, and have a great new year's!
I know, I know, I haven't posted in ages. Here's why: for the last two years, I have been concentrating on writing the new Mamborama album. The first year was here in California with every day at the piano with no results. Serious writer's block. Finally, over a year ago, I decided to relocate to my secure bunker in an undisclosed tropical location to be closer to the source of the music, and hopefully find some inspiration. I found it, and a lot more.
There were distractions along the way: the European tour in February, a love story that is off-topic for this blog, and a side project writing and recording traditional Cuban music for a company that sells licenses to films, TV and commercials.
But after a long year, I now have eleven songs that I am very happy with. We have already recorded the basic tracks and horns, and I am knocked out with what I have so far. I go back at the end of the year to record coros, lead vocals and a few solos, and then it will be ready to mix. Don't ask me exactly when it will be released, because I have already set back my deadline a dozen times. Things don't always go smoothly in this place that I'm recording in.
Things have changed along the way during this process. Those of you that have followed Mamborama know that it has been constantly shifting and changing personnel over the years. I am the only permanent member. I was exploring the idea of forming a permanent band that could work there as well as tour abroad, but this is not even worth the trouble for a foreigner. The bureaucratic hurdles and lack of places to play when there are already twenty bands of the top line competing for work took the wind out of my sails. But this is a good thing for the record. Since I don't have a permanent group, I am loading up the album with as many incredible invitados as I can get. And if things work out the way I hope, the record is going to be packed with some amazing singers and musicians. But, I don't want to get into specifics until I have everything recorded. But I do have these amazing musicians right now:
Three bass players worked with me on the basic tracks. I have four tunes with the genious bass player from NG La Banda, Feliciano Arango. Two tunes were done by Pupy Pedroso's bajista, El Negrón. The remaining five were done by the brand new bass player of Manolito y su trabuco, Roberto, "El Chino." I was extremely saddened by the death of Eduardo Mora, my friend for over five years, and long time bassist for Manolito. I had planned on recording with him again, but he was gone before I arrived for the latest trip. This new bassist is only twenty-four years old, but like the majority of Trabuco, he is from Camaguey, and played up until now with Orquesta Maravillas de Florida, the group that Manolito was director of over ten years ago. He came to the studio with the same baby bass that Mora used with trabuco and to record the last Mamborama CD. El Chino has almost the same sabor as Mora, and it felt like his spirit was in the room.
Percussion was handled by the guys from Trabuco. Roicel Riverón was absolutely smoking on drums and timbales, and we recorded him live with Lelo playing congas in the other room. Lelo played campana, and Jorge Luis played guiro.
I wrote the horns for two trumpets and two trombones, but I prefer to have the same musician play both parts in the studio. Amaury, the best trombonista in Cuba played the trombone parts, and Robin from Jovenes Clasico de Son did a great job on the trumpets. The horns sound terrific. David Bencomo plays flute on some tracks and will sing coro as well.
As far as the vocals, I'm only going to tell you who I have definitely so far, but it's all good. Sixto Llorente "El Indio" will return for two, hopefully three tunes and will sing coro as well. Sixto and I co-wrote four songs for the CD, my music and his lyrics. Pepito, the iron-lunged singer of Pupy y los que son, son sings one tune, maybe another, we'll see. As far as the others, well I'll let you know when it's in the can, but I've already talked to some of these guys, and it looks good. I plan on having some guest solos too, but you have to stay tuned.
All in all, it's been a tremendous amount of work, but well worth it. I wanted to record the best album I could, and so far, it's shaping up to be the best Mamborama CD yet. More news as it develops...