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BC Salsa : identity, musicianship and performance in Vancouver's Afro-Latin orchestras Aiken, Malcolm 2009

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BC SALSA: IDENTITY, MUSICIANSHIP AND PERFORMANCE IN VANCOUVER’S AFRO-LATIN ORCHESTRAS by MALCOLM Al KEN B.Mus., The University of British Columbia, 2004  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Music)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2009 © Malcolm Aiken, 2009  11  ABSTRACT For over twenty-five years, musicians, dancers and singers of Afro-Latin music have maintained an active presence in the culturally diverse music scene of Vancouver, BC. During this time, the music performed and created by this group of artists has undergone dynamic changes in sound and function, reflecting a new transcultural music identity. This music, commonly referred to as salsa, is being created, performed and transformed by musicians of all backgrounds and social classes. Local composers are incorporating a variety of musical influences into their music and assimilating elements of the city’s music cultures. Today, an eclectic mix of musicians in Vancouver are creating new forms of music rooted in the Afro-Latin music traditions, and are establishing a unique contemporary musical scene.  At the forefront of salsa’s local history are the Afro-Latin dance bands prominent in the city’s dance community. Their impact on the musicians and local music culture has been paramount and pivotal to the exposure of salsa to a mainstream Canadian audience. One prominent factor in the continued growth of the music has been the influence of the many non—Latino musicians who have assimilated into the salsa community as performers. Their musical and cultural influences have helped push the music in new directions and maintained the music’s relevance within the wider arts community.  An ethnography of the Vancouver Afro-Latin music scene has never before been attempted. A nuanced analysis of a global salsa culture such as this, especially one outside of the Latino cultural sphere, parallels the scholarship of Roman Velasquez and Hosokawa, whose insights into the salsa communities of London and Tokyo have highlighted salsa’s global interest and presented it as a truly transnational music culture.  111  In that framework, this study presents a history of this community at a micro level and documents its development and the musicians who shaped it.  Salsa in Vancouver today reflects the dynamism and diversity of the city’s cultural landscape. The local dance bands and musicians involved in its creation and performance are reshaping its traditional sound and identity, and helping to redefine salsa as a contemporary musical genre within the global music community.  iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT  .  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS  iv  DEDICATION  vi  CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION  I  Methodology Motivations for Research CHAPTER TWO: THE AFRO-CUBAN DANCE ORCHESTRA The Cuban Son (1850-1930) Son in New York (1930-960) From Son to Salsa (1960-present) CHAPTER THREE: SALSA IN VANCOUVER The First Bands (1970-1990) a. b. c. d.  Afro-Latin fusion: Jubaleo, Mandito, Rio Bumba The Romero Brothers Julio Portillo and BC Salsa Carlos Martinez and Orquesta Tropicana  The Salsa Explosion (1995-2002) a. Mesa Luna b. Latin Jazz c. Expresion Juvenil New Directions (2002-present) a. D’TaIle and the Cuban injection b. Tanga CHAPTER FOUR: CASE STUDIES  3 6 10 11 12 14 17 17 17 20 23 23 23 23 25 26 27 28 29 31  Introduction of Participants  31  Data and Analysis: Common Themes  34  a. Musical Education, Training and Development  34  i. Studies Abroad ii. Training and Skill Development iii. The Stages of Learning 1. Introduction-Appreciation  34 36 38 39  V  2. 3. 4. 5.  Absorption (Listening/Watching) Training Practical Experience Specialist-Leadership  b. Technical and Socio-Cultural Challenges i. Understanding fundamentals ii. Cultural understanding c. Musical identity and Artistic Development i. ii  Integration in the Salsa community Audiences and Technologies  CHAPTER FIVE: TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ANALYSIS a. Dime Donde Estas b. TeVeoalFin  .40 41 42 43 45 45 47 48 49 52 55 55 59  CHAPTER SIX: CODA  64  BIBLIOGRAPHY, VIDEOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY  66  APPENDICES  68  A: B: C. D:  Terminology Interview Transcriptions Music Transcriptions CD Recording  68 71 101 101  vi DEDICATION  I dedicate this work to my brother Ciaran Aiken, whose love and support has helped me see this chapter to the end.  I also thank Emily Cheung for her compassion and commitment to being a part of my life through all its trials and tribulations.  Thank you to Dr. Michael Tenzer, my advisor, for his support and guidance though to the end of my studies, and to Dr. Sal Ferreras for his friendship and for inspiring me to pursue my passions.  Thanks to all the musicians who participated in my research, shared their knowledge and supported this project: Al Johnston, John Korsrud, Niho Takase, Jeremy Vint, Raphael Geronimo, Gilberto Moreaux, Dr. Daniel Tones, Mark Beaty and Martin Romero. And to the musicians of my band Tanga which has served as a laboratory for my ideas and concepts, and have inspired me along the way: Salvador Pedraza, Chris Denis, Steve Mynett, François Levesque, Rod Murray, Miguel Benavides Kent Wallace, Daniel Shook, Fito Garcia, David Lopez, Rafael Arguello and Danay Sinclair.  Thanks to all the artists with whom I have shared my love of Afro-Latin music over the last ten years and thanks to the bands old and new who continue to spread the passion and excitement of this music, inspiring people of all backgrounds to share in the sabor of salsa.  CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION  Vancouver’s Afro-Latin music community is a diverse fusion of local cultures and global traditions. Over the past twenty-five years, immigrant Caribbean, Central and Latin American musicians have established an informal network of bands, dancers, promoters, and DJs, bringing an abundance of Afro-Latin dance styles to the mainstream local audience. Today, in venues across metro Vancouver, one can hear bands playing the rhythms of Cuban salsa, Columbian cumbia, Dominican meringue, bachata and reggaeton. 1 While performing in a traditional musical framework, these bands draw new influence from the musical backgrounds of their members, and are assimilating the city’s increasing diverse cultural landscape.  One type of ensemble that is prominent in the Vancouver Afro-Latin music scene is the Latin dance orchestra, commonly referred to as an orquesta. Functioning primarily as live musical accompaniment for dancers, these bands perform a repertory of Afro-Latin musical styles known as salsa . These ensembles range in size from eight to as many 2 as twenty musicians, and are rooted in the tradition of the early twentieth century Cuban dance orchestras 3 whose music fused popular song with folkloric Afro-Cuban rhythms. Since their appearance in North America, beginning in the 1940s, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Columbian and North American popular musics have also played a key role in shaping the identity of these ensembles. Locally, this tradition of cultural and stylistic See Appendix A for definitions of each style. In addition to referencing a distinct musical style, the term salsa is also used as an umbrella term for a composite of styles performed by these Afro-Latin bands. This includes any combination of Cuban son and rumba, Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena, Columbian Cumbia, and Dominican Meregue and Reggaeton, and latin jazz styles. Cuban dance orchestras, or Tipicas, were prominent in early 2O” century Cuba. They first appeared in Havana and later migrated to the Spanish immigrant communities on the east coast of the US, notably in New York and Miami. Influenced by the swing bands of America, these orchestras played a variety of Cuban dance rhythms including son, charanga, bolero and danzon (Sublette 2004). 2  2 synthesis is reflected in the diverse ethnic mix of the ensemble members, where musicians from differing cultural, social and musical backgrounds collaborate in the music’s composition and performance. Today, while salsa music is still identified with Latino culture, Canadian musicians, along with dancers, promoters, and audience members, play an important role in the development of these ensembles and the creation of local salsa music.  In this study, I examine the impact of these salsa orchestras on the Vancouver music community, with a focus on how musicians of non-latino origins confront issues of identity, musicality and education within the ensembles’ complex socio-musical framework. Referencing studies of international salsa culture by Lise Waxer (2002), Christopher Washburne (2002), Patria Roman-Velasquez (1999) and Robert Baron (1977), I document the history of salsa as a distinct musical style in Vancouver, and explore the processes of musical development and cultural interchange taking place between those inside the salsa community. Furthermore, through transcription and analysis of compositions by local artists, I show how pan-musical influences and genre fusion are manifested in the music itself. Using data collected through ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Vancouver from 2005-2008, I explain how these ensembles function as important socio-musical organizations whose members use music to bridge Canadian and Afro-Latin culture.  3 Methodology  This study is structured around three main points of interest:  •  What is the tradition of the salsa orchestra in Vancouver? How has it developed and how do the bands function in the greater music community? Who are the musicians and ensembles that have shaped this community’s contemporaty identity?  •  These local ensembles are extremely multicultural, featuring musicians from a diverse array of cultural and musical backgrounds. How does this diversity affect the sound and style of these bands, and how does it impact the creation of new Afro-Latin music? How does participation in these ensembles impact the musical development and cultural awareness of the musicians? Furthermore, by drawing influence from local styles and traditions, do these ensembles reflect a new LatinCanadian identity?  •  How are musical ideas transmitted between musicians in a salsa orchestra? What are the pedagogical qualities of these ensembles, and do they warrant greater acknowledgement by the larger music community?  Following the section Motivations for Research, in which I discuss my personal relationship to the local salsa community and my identity as an “insider-outsider,” I begin the presentation of my research with a short history of salsa. To situate the reader within an appropriate historical and musical framework, I trace the development of salsa as a musical style, from its Cuban origins to New York and its transformation into an international music phenomenon. Drawing upon ethnographies of salsa culture outside  4 of Latin America (Hosokawa 2002, Washburne 2002, Waxer 2002, Velasquez 1999, and Baron 1977, chapter two explores the history of salsa in Vancouver and highlights key players, events and circumstances that supported its development. Paralleling the formation of salsa culture in London and New York, the Vancouver Afro-Latin music community is in a state of continuous change and transformation, reflecting the on-going diversification of the city’s cultural makeup. This process reflects a global trend of musical interchange and cultural fusion, one highlighted by Patria Roman-Velasquez in her essay “The Embodiment of Salsa: Musicians, Instruments and the Performance of Latin Style and Identity” (1999, p 115):  Salsa has become part of the visible presence of Latin American cultural practices in many countries around the world. As salsa is remade in different parts of the world, so particular identities are constructed and communicated through processes of continuity and transformation. Thus, even when a specific cultural identity develops in relation to specific places an unfixed relationship between cultural identities and places can still be maintained due to the way in which Latin cultural practices are experiences in different ways across the world. The multicultural history of salsa music in Vancouver is presented here in three parts. The First Bands details the period from the late 1970, when the first Afro-Latin bands  appeared, up to 1990 and the beginning of the salsa boom. The Salsa Explosion documents the heyday of salsa in mainstream pop culture between 1995 and 2002, the most prosperous time for the music since the I 970s. Finally, New Directions explores the music from 2002 to the present and looks ahead to the future of salsa music in Vancouver.  Drawing from extensive research, case studies, fieldwork and personal experience, chapter three explores the socio-musical impact of these ensembles on the musicians themselves. Referencing the methodology of Roman-Velasquez in her study of the  5 London salsa community (The Making of a Salsa Scene in London, 1999), I examine the construction of new musical identities and explore the musical, social and cultural exchange that occurs between the members of the local salsa orchestras. I explore how these performers have assimilated into the Afro-Latin music community and, with their own music and influences, are helping reshape its identity. This mirrors a similar process of cultural exchange explored by Baron in his ethnography of the New York salsa community. In his article, “Syncretism and Ideology: Latin New York Salsa Musicians,” he details how this synchronicity allows Afro-Latin music to maintain relevance in contemporary popular culture:  Traditions assume new meanings as emergence in folklore occurs, both in the immediate situation of performance and in a larger socio-historical situation. Syncretic ideologies of salsa musicians are addressed to the latter type of emergence. They seek to encompass the strains experienced during culture change as they maintain continuity with forms from the past while adapting forms to a current situation marked by rapid culture contact and the often intense pressures towards commercialization. (1977:225) In the analysis of my fieldwork data, I present three main themes of socio-musical interest. Beginning with issues of training and education for salsa musicians, I detail the different stages of learning for those who specialize in this type of music making. I then examine the variety of technical and socio-cultural challenges facing these musicians, and conclude with an examination of broader issues of musical identity and artistic development. In the final chapter, I analyze a selection of Afro-Latin music using transcriptions of locally composed music to demonstrate how these themes of cultural fusion and exchange are manifested in the creation of new musical works. By showing how the new repertories of this musical style draw influence from the surrounding socio musical environment, I seek to reinforce Baron’s observations that salsa musicians “draw upon and rework tradition while experimenting with the music of several different  6  Latin ethnic groups in this most complex of cultural settings” (209). In the music of Vancouver-based Afro-Latin ensembles one can find this reworking of traditions, a process that reflects an on-going synthesis of Latino-Canadian culture. In the presentation of my research, I take a “performer-scholar” approach (see Waxer 2002, Washburne 2002 and Ferreras 2005). Drawing from a decade of personal and professional experience in the Vancouver Latin music scene, and an academic background rooted in contemporary Afro-Cuban music studies, I aim to provide a socio musical analysis that encompasses both “insider” and “outsider” perspectives. In this author’s opinion, scholars who participate in music making within the community they study are more aware of important non-verbal, technical and informal communications that occur, thereby allowing for greater insight into the culture of the music and the musicians. This approach, as described by sociologist Quintero Riviera, allows for the most in-depth understanding of the nuance and complexities of the music:  It’s good to have both sides. On one side you should be able to be objective about your culture and somewhat removed from it but at the same time it is advantageous to work from within. That would be the ideal, to be inside and imagine it from outside. In that sense you have a privileged position. Being inside gives you access to information not readily available elsewhere. (Ferreras 2005:5)  Motivations for Research This paper is a product of a love affair with Afro-Latin music that began nearly a decade ago when I was beginning my music studies at Vancouver Community College. As a trumpet player with an interest in all kinds of music, a large part of my practical education came through playing in a variety of school ensembles: the wind symphony, the jazz big band and several small classical and jazz chamber ensembles. In my first year, the only band that I hadn’t signed up for was the Latin Jazz Orchestra.  7 “Latin Jazz,” I thought. “What’s that?” “Maybe I’ll try out for it next year.”  A month into school I overheard a conversation between a few students in the cafeteria:  “You gotta check out Latin Jazz, it’s awesome.” “Sal is wicked, it’s the best band at the school.” “Damn, those are hard charts!” I was intrigued and had to check it out.  Despite the ensemble being full, I asked the director Sal Ferreras if I could sit in and read some auxiliary trumpet parts. Not one to turn people away, he agreed, and soon enough, that Friday afternoon at 4pm I was in the rehearsal room playing the music of Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente and other artists that would soon become my heroes of Latin music. For three hours I was on the edge of my chair, sharing the stage with fourteen other musicians and played so hard my lips went blue. What a rush! The driving percussion, the searing horn lines, extended improvisations and such intricate polyrythms! Something unique yet familiar, an energy and swing reminiscent of the jazz big bands that I had listened to since I was a young kid, but with an attitude and groove all its own. Whether it was the bluesy feel of the Guajira, the simmer of a son-montuno, a mona in full swing, or the subtlety the campana I was -  hooked.  My first professional music experiences came as a result of my involvement in that ensemble (I became a permanent member soon after that first rehearsal). Despite it being called a Latin Jazz ensemble, our young ears were exposed to a whole range of world musics, from Brazilian Samba and Cuban rumba, to New York Latin Jazz and  8 Nigerian high life. But, what grabbed me was the Afro-Cuban music called salsa. Soon I was collecting salsa music from around the world and trying to unravel the mysteries of the dave.  In the spring of that year, on a reference from a colleague in the band, I began working steadily as a freelance trumpet player with a variety of Latin dance bands around Vancouver. I could hardly read the handwritten charts, let alone follow the beat, but I learned quickly and was guided by many fellow horn players. Truly, on the job training!  Each band had their own music specialty, and I soon discovered that the term salsa inaccurately described the many different musical styles that the bands played. There were the ‘big three’: Orquesta Tropicana who played the up-tempo Dominican meringue; BC Salsa, who despite their name played mostly Cumbias, the Afro-Columbian folk music that had spread to Central America and been simplified into a dance friendly party music (Waxer 315); and Orquesta La Clave, who played New York and Peruvian-style salsa, horn heavy with strong jazz influences.  In some ways, salsa’s diverse, multicultural heritage and fractioned development throughout the world reflects my own complex personal identity. As child of immigrant European parents, growing up in different parts of the world and settling in the multiethnic city of Vancouver, I was exposed to a wide range of cultures and traditions. It was not only the music that drew me in, but also the Latino culture, where the family unit was the center of one’s society, and where musicians were respected as cultural ambassadors, preserving and promoting their traditions in their new communities and beyond.  9 After years spent inside the salsa community as a performer and bandleader, coupled with my ethnomusicological studies at university, Ihad amassed a range of questions. I was now looking at the music and culture of my surroundings from a more anthropological perspective and began exploring the history of this sub-culture through conversations with musicians and other community members. To understand the chronology of the Latin music scene, I started piecing together a timeline of when certain bands were active and what musicians had been prominent in their development. One factor that struck me was the multiracial makeup of these ensembles and how closely instruments were tied to ethnicity. Every Latin dance band I had encountered was made up of Latino percussionists and singers, Anglo-Canadian horn players and a mix of both in the piano, bass and guitar section. Why was this so common? And how was it that despite their widely differing backgrounds, everyone had knowledge of the various styles, spoke the same musical language and could navigate seemingly great cultural and social differences? Would these non-Latino musicians refer to themselves as, what Lise Waxer describes, “latin por adopcion” (4)? 0r are theyjust freelance musicians who have learned the style simply for the paycheque?  Finally, I questioned how in some of these ensembles, non-Latin musicians were completely integrated. In some cases, these musicians were composing and arranging music more fluently than the Latino musicians who had grown up in the tradition. How were these skills developeci and how did these bands teach the musicians to play con 5 These questions led me to pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology, and the dave? culmination of my research during that time is presented here.  Literally, “Latino by adoption,” referring to those musicians who have assimilated into the Latin music scene. “In dave,” a colloquialism for playing in the correct musical style. For a definition of the dave see Appendix A.  10 CHAPTER TWO: THE AFRO-CUBAN DANCE ORCHESTRA Over the past century, Latin music has been the greatest outside influence on the popular music styles of the United States and by a very wide margin indeed. Virtually all of the major popular forms Tin Pan Alley, stage and film music, jazz, rhythm-and-blues, country music, rock have been affected throughout their development by the idioms of Brazil, Cuba or Mexico. Moreover, these Latin ingredients have gained strength over the years: not only does the standard repertory contain a significant representation of tunes of Latin-American origin or inspiration, but the whole rhythmic basis of US popular music has become to some extent Latinized. (Roberts 1979: ix) —  —  The Latinization of North American popular music that Roberts described in 1979 continues today, wielding influence on both the global music industry and on local music cultures. An abundance of contemporary Afro-Latin music 6 can now be accessed around the world through radio, television, the internet and live performance. International exposure of Latin pop artists like Celia Cruz, Shakira, Ricky Martin and Mark Anthony, has secured salsa’s trans-cultural audience and brought ‘latin’ music into the mainstream alongside pop stars like Madonna and Britney Spears. Today, Afro-Latin music is being performed and developed by local musicians throughout the world, and continues to attract new, multiethnic audiences (Roman-Velasquez 1999, Waxer 2002, Hosokawa 2002). Fusing contemporary and traditional musical styles drawn from a diverse mix of social and cultural communities, Afro-Latin musics like salsa are sponsoring new musical innovations and creating a distinct identity in the Western gamut of “world music.”  In referencing this emerging global music tradition and its established local presence, I use the concept of a “music scene” provided by Will Straw (1991). For Straw, a music scene is “that cultural space in which a range of musical practices coexist, interacting 6  Both traditional and contemporary popular afro-latin music such as cumbia, salsa, reggaeton, bachata, plena and bomba.  ii with each other within a variety of processes of differentiation, and according to a widely varying trajectories of change and cross fertilization” (368). In Vancouver’s Afro-Latin music community, this cultural space is constantly being transformed by a variety of factors, such as the steady influx of new immigrants and musicians, the ongoing development of Latin Canadian and Latin Caribbean diaspora communities, and a growing interest in Afro-Latin music and culture by a mainstream Canadian audience. The Cuban Son (1850-1960) The musical style commonly known today as salsa is rooted in the Cuban folk music tradition called son. Emerging in the mid-nineteenth century in the island’s eastern Oriente province, son was the music of peasant farmers (guajiros) and plantation workers, and incorporated elements of Spanish, French and Afro-Cuban music (Sublette, 333). By end of the century, the music had spread into the cities and become a popular form of entertainment for the Cuban middle class. The growing demand for son throughout the island led to the formation of professional son bands , a standardized 7 song form, fixed instrumentation 8 and its own canon of repertoire (Mauleon 1993:2).  The son’s aural texture is the combination of three main layers of sound: percussion (bongos, maracas guiro, claves and later congas and timbales), a baseline /bota, replaced in the 9 (marimbuIa  th 20  century by acoustic bass), and strings (the  Cuban tres ). Pianist Rebecca Mauleon characterizes it as: 10  Early bands included Cuarteto Oriental, Sexteto Habanero, and Septeto Nacional Traditional son instrumentation was voice, claves, tres, maracas, bongos, marimbula/botija, guiro and later trumpet. ‘Marimbula: A large thumb piano-type box of Bantu (Congolese) origin, used to provide the bass in the Chaguli style of Cuban son. Botija: A ceramic jug originally used to import Spanish Olive oil, used to provide a bass accompaniment in the son. ‘° A Cuban stringed instrument derived from the Spanish guitar, consisting of three double strings and played with a pick. The tres is the signature instrument of the Cuban son (Mauleon 258). 8  12 the constant juxtaposition of three independent rhythmic patterns all working together in a highly dynamic and syncopated mechanism... .the three principle parts being: 1) the syncopated bass line or Tumbao; 2) the rhythm guitar, the bongos martillo pattern and the maracas; 3) the dave. 11 Each polyrhythmic part maintains a specific relationship with the other, and with the dave. (1993:178)  In the early  th 20  century, new recording technologies, international touring ensembles, a  growing Latino diaspora, and the emerging tourist industry were all factors in bringing the sound of the Cuban son into North American. In pre-revolution Cuba, cultural and commercial exchange flourished between the island and the US, and Cuban music was played frequently in the growing Spanish neighborhoods of Miami, Los Angeles and especially New York City, whose melting pot of immigrant cultures helped further integration of Latin and African American musics. It was in the barrios (Latino neighborhoods) of the Big Apple that son evolved into salsa (Waxer 5).  Son in New York (1930-1960)  In the 1930s, Cuban-born bandleader Xavier Cugat had one the most popular bands in the US. His music used Afro-Cuban dance rhythms like the son, congo and bolero, and was the first to gain widespread airplay on national radio (Visser 2002:8). Following the commercial success of leaders like Cugat, and the popularity of his ‘easy listening’ Latin , some high profile jazz orchestras began experimenting with the Afro-Latin 12 music music. In 1931, Cab Calloway’s big band released “Doin’ the rumba” and later collaborations with Cuban trumpet player Mario Bauza led to songs like “The Congo Conga,” “Congo,” and “Chile con Conga.” At the same time, Duke Ellington, with the help of his Puerto Rican born valve trombonist Juan Tizol, began mixing Latin and Jazz music, and released his hit song “Caravan.” By the end of the I 930s jazz musicians and 12  Two rounded, polished sticks which are used to play the dave pattern. Cugat’s version of Afro-Cuban music was simplified rhythmically to cater to his non-Cuban audience.  13 musicians from the Caribbean were playing together in informal jams in every big American city (8). While the 1 930s saw the first international commercial successes of Afro-Latin music, it was in the decade that followed with the phenomenon of the mambo where this music really began to flourish. Rooted in the tradition of the Cuban son but popularized in New York, the Mambo’s heavily syncopated, on the beat rhythm, its driving saxophone riffs and energetic brass melodies became an international hit and formed the foundation of the modern Latin dance band’s sound and structure (see appendix D: track 2). At this time, jazz band leaders like Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, and Stan Kenton brought Afro-Latin rhythms and song forms into the orchestrations of the big swing bands and augmented their rhythm sections with Cuban percussion instruments like congas bongos, tres, maracas and claves. To capitalize on the growing popularity of Afro-Latin music, even mainstream American artists like Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet recorded songs like “Bijou (Rumba a Ia jazz)” and “New Redskin Rumba” (Visser 2002:8).  Many prominent stars of the bebop era also began working and collaborating with Latin musicians and Afro-Latin dance bands. Charlie Parker, Howard McGhee, Kenny Dorham, Flip Phillips all worked with Machito’s Latin band, while Dizzy Gillespie’s 1947 Afro-Cuban jazz orchestra brought in Cuban musicians like Chano Pozo and used arrangements by Machito. Back in Havana, Cuban son bands imitated the popular music of the North American big bands and grew into full dance orchestras, incorporating the big band horn section (trumpets, trombones and saxophones), an expanded percussion accompaniment (timbales, congas and bongos), and a more jazz  14 inspired harmonic approach. 13 It was at this time that Afro-Latin music and musicians became firmly linked to the evolution of North American music (Visser 2002:12).  In the 1950s, Latin dance orchestras remained popular. Though the mambo craze had ended, newly emerging Afro-Caribbean dance rhythms like the cha cha cha, meringue and bolero were becoming popular with both Latino and white audiences. These new sounds were incorporated into their repertory and helped the bands maintain an active presence on American TV and radio. This was the era of the “Big Three,” the term used to describe the most popular and prominent Latin dance bands of the time Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez and Machito  —  —  those of  whose bitter rivalry and fierce competition  were legendary (Morales 2003: 51).  From Son to Salsa (1960-present) In the 1960s Puerto Rican bandleader Tito Rodriguez updated the Cuban sound, and other Puerto Rican musicians looked to their own country for new ideas to keep the music moving forward. They began mixing Cuban sounds with Puerto Rican genres and experimenting with harmonies and brass sonorities of the many New York jazz bands that Puerto Rican musicians had played in since the First World War. This experimentation helped transform the Cuban son into a new sound known today as salsa.  In addition to changes to instrumentation, Puerto Rican musicians from the 1950s onward fused diverse stylistic elements in their music, both by juxtaposing different pieces, or passages within a piece, and by blending or ‘syncretising’ different styles and rhythms. Puerto Rican artists Rafael Cortijo and lsmael Rivera, who integrated the Afro 13  This included a more ambitious harmonic language and greater emphasis placed on improvisation.  15 Puerto Rican genres of bomba and plena into a Cuban style conjunto format, were important innovators of this genre (Berrios-Miranda 1997:99). Other salsa bands and musicians who have successfully exploited this technique include El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Willie Colon and Cheo Feliciano. Many of their songs incorporate melodic lines from the Puerto Rican Seis and aguinaldo’ 4 in the salsa repertory. This juxtaposition and syncretism of styles enables identification with salsa music in two pivotal ways: by acknowledging different nationalities among their listeners, and by ‘indigenizing,’ or giving local flavor, to the salsa played in different countries. Many regard Puerto Rican musicians as pioneers in this expansion of Cuban music to an international audience (29).  The origin of the term salsa itself is a topic of much debate in Caribbean music scholarship and Latin American studies (see Roberts 1979, Mauleon 1993, Washburne 1994, and Boggs 1979). Much of the discussion concerns whether salsa can be defined as a new North American music or simply a Cuban music hybrid. The argument confronts the commercial re-branding of the son’s identity by American record 15 in the 1960s that subverted its Cuban origins in an effort to profit from its companies growing international popularity. 16 The Cuban revolution of 1959 had caused a stir of anti-Cuban sentiment in the United States, and led to a blacklisting of all-things Cuban, including imports of music recordings and live acts. In New York City, home of large Cuban and Puerto Rican communities, promoters and record executives used the more neutral term “salsa” to re-label the music of the local Latin bands that were incorporating  Indigenous Puerto Rican music. Sies: One of the most typical genres of traditional Puerto Rican jibaro (peasant) music, often featuring a decimal (ten-line verse) that is typically improvised, and which is accompanied by guitar, Puerto Rican cuatro, guiro and bongos. Aguinaldo: A secular religious song sung in Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries at Christmas time. Led by Fania Records and it s Puerto Rican owners Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Massucci. 16 Washburne. Salsa Romantica (New York: Routledge, 2002), 102.  16 elements of rock, funk and jazz into their music. Salsa’s newly constructed image played up Latino cultural clichés with album covers that either featured scantily clad Latino women and men dressed up as the Mafioso or a more ‘savage’ aesthetic: dark skinned Cubans men dressed up as tribal Africans or native Caribbeans (Yglesias 2005:7-81). This new “exoticized” identity of son music, supported by savvy marketing and promotion, helped put salsa into popular US dance clubs and on radio throughout North America.  17 CHAPTER THREE: SALSA IN VANCOUVER In Vancouver, salsa is a common sound in local nightclubs, restaurants and on festival stages. At the time of this study, there were eight full-size salsa orchestras and several smaller Latin ensembles performing regularly at locations throughout the Lower 17 Add the hundreds of salsa dancers, teachers and dance classes, and the Mainland. diverse salsa community in Vancouver is indicative of the music’s significance in mainstream Canadian culture.  The history of salsa music in Vancouver parallels the growth of the local Latin community. During the 1980s, guerilla wars and political uprisings tore through many Latin countries, and local Latino-Canadian communities were flooded with thousands of refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Columbia, Chile and Nicaragua, among others (Johnston 2004:4). As local musician Al Johnston recalls:  When I was in Jubaleo (1 981) there were no Latinos in town. I mean, there were a few scattered people here and there. Statistically, there were no Latinos in town. So I go out on this cruise ship throughout the eighties civil war in Guatemala, civil war in El Salvador, civil war in Chile come back, and there are working salsa bands. Working salsa bands all of them with musicians. (2004:4) —  —  This emerging Central and South American diaspora increased the local demand for Latin popular and folk musics. Musicians and ensembles performing styles like the Columbian cumbia, Dominican merengue, Mexican banda, and Peruvian salsa, were kept busy meeting the needs of this growing market.  17  These included Orquesta BC Salsa, Orquesta Tropicana, Orquesta La Clave, Orquesta Goma Dura, Tanga, D’Talle, Expresion Latina and Rumba Caizada.  18 Vancouver’s Latino demographic is largely comprised of Central Americans, with large communities of El Salvadorian, Honduran, and Guatemalan peoples. In more recent times, because of the city’s reputation as one of top ESL centers in North America, large number of Mexican students helped by a strong Mexican economy have bolstered the city’s Mexican population. This has further increased the audience for Latin music, though more for the popular Mexican styles like reggaeton, mariachi, punta, ranchera and norteno.  The First Bands (1970-1990) a. Afro-Latin Fusion: Mandito, Rio Bumba and Jubaleo In the early 1980s few non-Latino musicians were playing salsa. Internationally, Afro-pop music was popular, with western artists like Paul Simon, Bob Geldof, Joe Zawinul and Ry Cooder releasing hit records that fused North American pop with West and South African music. In Vancouver, one of the first Afro-Latin bands that appeared on the scene was Mandito and the Hand People, an Afro-fusion ensemble that performed a mix of West African pop, Nigerian Highlife and Western Jazz music. The band’s leader, Mandito, an expatriate West-African percussionist/singer/dancer, brought together an ensemble of important young local musicians including percussionist Boying Geronimo, bassist Al Johnston and percussionist Salvador Ferreras, all of whom would later become prominent players in the future Afro-Latin music scene. As Al Johnston described, “it was the quintessential Afro-Latin band  —  odd time signatures, groove,  hippy helicopter dance kind of thing. It was this semi-Latin semi-Afro thing and this was because there were very few Latinos (living) here at the time” (2004:4). Other bands that were experimenting with the Afro-fusion sound included African Heritage and Rio Bumba, both projects led by West-African percussionist Albert St. Albert. These bands  19 brought together West African percussionists and vocalists with local jazz musicians including saxophonists Coat Cooke, Bruce Freedman, Graham Ord and Trombonist/keyboardist Hugh Fraser.  While Afro-Latin fusion bands were popular at this time, a group of Latino and Canadian musicians formed the band Jubaleo. The ensemble’s bass player, Al Johnston, describes it was as being the very first ‘Latin’ band in Vancouver. “They were playing some descarga [Cuban jam] stuff,” he recalls, “some Fania Records stuff. Nobody really knew how to play back then besides the percussionists. I am sure what I was doing was totally wrong!” (2004:4). The band also included an emerging core of dedicated AfroLatin music specialists including conga player Boying Geronimo, pianist Lou Mastrianni, percussionists Jack Duncan and Fernando San Juan and Trombonist Jo Bjornson. Despite their limited performance experience and understanding of the musical style, the members of Jubaleo had formed Vancouver’s very first salsa band.  An important figure in the emerging Afro-Latin music scene was Phillipino-born Boying Geronimo. In the 1960s, he worked as a professional dancer/choreographer in Macati, and later, after studying with the legendary Poncho Sanchez, played congas in a number of local Latin jazz bands. In 1974, because of the growing political strife of the Marcos regime, Boying and his family, including his newly born son Raphael, fully immigrated to Vancouver. First working as a studio salesman, he eventually became enough in demand as a percussionist that he turned professional the following year. As a trained artist and compassionate musician, Boying would go on to mentor a whole generation of local musicians and perform with countless Afro-Latin and Latin Jazz ensembles. In 1991, he started the band Rumba Calzada, a six- piece Latin Jazz band with a  commercial sound that would later perform across Canada, the US and in the Phillipines.  20 It was in Manila in 1994 while taping a live dance documentary with his son directing the band that Boying suffered a major heart attack and died on the stage. Under the direction of Rafael, the band continues to perform and tour to this day.  b. The Romero Brothers  The emergence of salsa as a distinct musical style in Vancouver is due in a large part to the efforts of Peruvian brothers, Martin and Edgar Romero. The Romeros were trained Latin percussionists whose musical projects and interests focused on elevating salsa into the mainstream Canadian consciousness. Through meticulous study of the music and a sincere approach to the understanding and presentation of salsa, they nurtured a whole generation of local musicians, and helped establish a strong community of salsa dancers, DJs and audiences.  Edgar and his younger brother Martin moved to Canada in 1981 to escape the escalating civil violence in Peru under the regime of General Juan Velasco Alvarado. First settling in Winnipeg, they had difficulty adjusting to their new lives in sub-zero Manitoba. The city had a small Latino community with little cultural or social connection to their native Lima. The Romeros had grown up immersed in music; their first instruments were old car fenders, on which they would hammer out the different AfroPeruvian rhythms they heard everyday on the radio. Across the street from the house they grew up in was a nightclub that featured live bands every weekend, exposing the young bothers to a variety of South American and Caribbean music. At that time, salsa music was hugely popular, and singers like Oscar De Leon and Hector Lavoe were big stars in the Latin music world. Later, the brothers would play in local bands performing on a variety of Afro-Latin percussion instruments such as the guiro, cajon, maracas, congas and bongos.  21 In 1986, with aspirations to become recording engineers, Edgar and his brother moved to Vancouver. At that time, the Vancouver Latin music scene was in its infancy. Only a few bands were playing Latin music, and none were able to create the authentic big band salsa sound they knew back in Peru. Despite its relatively larger Latin community to that of Winnipeg, at the time Vancouver had only one venue for live Latin music. The Havana Club was an underground club on Hornby Street, home to a band that played predominantly Central American music, like cumbia, punta, and meregue, and included Mexican pianist Gorge Hernandez and Cuban percussionist Eddie Labrada. The house DJ was José Tonyun, also know as Jose T, one of the city’s first Latin music DJs.  Soon after moving to Vancouver, Edgar and Martin put a band together and began rehearsing in a rented mansion in Lynn Valley. “We would rehearse during the week and throw salsa parties on the weekend to make rent” (Romero 2008:3), remembers Edgar. Beginning as a seven-piece combo, the band was called La Unica, and included Cuban percussionist Rafael Cajar, Guatemalan vocalist/bass/guitarist Oliver ‘Rene’ Santamaria, Ricardo lvanquo, and fellow Peruvian Carol Valdez on piano. From the success of their house parties, the brothers started producing their own public salsa parties in downtown hotels. As Edgar explained it, “no one had done this type of show in Vancouver at that time, people said we were crazy  —  ‘you are not going to make it only playing salsa’. But  all we wanted to dowas play! And so we did it” (4). So in 1991 the band began performing weekly shows at local clubs, and soon attracted audiences from across the city. Reflecting on the first audiences for live salsa in Vancouver, Edgar recalled: At the beginning there was only about 100 people, but then it started to grow. The audience was mostly semi-professional people. Those that could afford to go to a dance. 75% Latinos and 25% Canadians. The average age was about 35. We had success at the right from the beginning. We were the first salsa band in Vancouver! (4)  22 In 1993 the band was renamed the Romero Brothers, and began playing regularly at the downtown club Rio Rio, the first local venue to offer live salsa music. Beginning with a once a week show, within two years the band was playing five nights a week with audiences lining up around the block to see them. The audience for salsa music was growing and the audience demographic was changing. ‘When we started,” Edgar recalls, “the audiences were 80/20 Latino to Canadian. Then as we became more popular, it moved to about 60/40” (Romero 2008:4). Internationally, salsa music was being given more mainstream airplay as Latin cross over artists like Ricky Martin, Mark Anthony and Jennifer Lopez were finding success in the US and European pop market. As the audiences grew, so did the band. Over time they added trumpeters John Korsrud and Jaime Croyle, Trombonist Brian Harding, and singer Francsico Ayalla, among many others. At its peak, the band was fifteen musicians and included a 6-piece horn section, four percussionists, four lead singers and a guitar player.  While salsa was attracting new audiences for its live performances, it was also the salsa social dance fad that drew large numbers to the clubs. “The dance and the music work together to get people interested in (the live bands),” says Rafael Geronimo, “people would come and just listen and the next thing you know, they would want to start dancing” (Geronimo 2007: 4) At this time dance teachers, many who were new to the music themselves, began promoting salsa dance classes to the growing Canadian audience exposed to salsa via the mainstream media. One of the first to do this was Peruvian actor/dancer José Vargas. To attract novice dancers, he gave free introductory salsa lessons before the band performances at the Rio Rio Club. He would then dance throughout the evening with his more experienced students, giving the novices dancers a visual context for the dance moves, all the while promoting his private classes. One of his prized students was Nestor De La Cerda  —  the self-titled ‘Salsa King’  —  who would go  23 on to become the most popular salsa instructor in Vancouver, teaching hundreds of dancers and exposing a whole generation of Canadians to the music of the live salsa bands.  By the mid 1 990s, salsa as a distinct musical style was creating its own market within the pop music industry. Different forms of Latin popular music had become common sounds on Western radio and television, with salsa-pop artists like Ricky Martin and Mark Anthony successfully crossing over into the North American music market with several multi-platinum records. Listening to these artists exposed audiences to a variety of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and textures, albeit heavily produced and commercialized. On Martin’s triple platinum record, for example, the self-titled Ricky Martin, one finds elements of Afro-Puerto Rican bomba and plena rhythms, Afro-Cuban salsa, and Dominican meringue, all fused within a contemporary Western pop framework.  c. Julio Portillo and BC Salsa As new audiences for Latin music gained exposure to the different Afro-Latin musical styles, specialized bands were being formed that catered to specific dance styles. One such style was the cumbia, a Columbian music and folk dance that was also widely popular in Central America. In 1993, Salvadorian-born percussionist Julio Portillo and bassist/songwriter Francisco Ayalla formed the band Orquesta Maya, a large ensemble in the format of the salsa big bands, to recreate the sound of the pop-cumbia bands found throughout Central and South America. The band consisted of three percussionists (drum kit, congas, bongos), piano, bass, two singers, and four horns (two trumpet, trombone and tenor saxophone), and, while they performed a variety of Afro Latin styles including salsa, they were best known for their “authentic” performance of the cumbia. A well-known story tells of how after internal disagreements led to the  24 band’s breakup in 1995, Vancouver’s best cumbia band reformed under the new name BC Salsa, a telling sign of salsa’s commercialized identity in local Latin music culture. Still performing today, BC Salsa has maintained a strong following throughout the city and continues to do small tours around the province.  d. Carlos Martinez and Orquesta Tropicana Another popular musical style performed by the local salsa orchestras was the fastpaced Dominican merengue. The band best known for its performance of merengues was Orquesta Tropicana led by Chilean timbalero Carlos Martinez. Like BC Salsa, the band was modeled after the Latin big bands popular in South America and included percussion, vocalists, piano, bass and horns. Its bass heavy, two beat dance-club oriented style attracted a younger audience of Latino-Canadians, those brought up more on the sounds of hip hop, R&B and pop. Over its fifteen years of performing throughout Western Canada, there have been many personnel changes and Carlos has earned a reputation for treating his musicians poorly. He has also been linked drugs and gangs and recently changed the name of the band to the Sonora Kings in an effort to rebrand the band’s notorious image.  The Salsa Explosion (1995-2002)  a. Mesa Luna By the late I 990s, the salsa music scene was dominated by its own version of the “big : Orquestas BC Salsa, Tropicana and La Clave (led by the Romero Brothers). 18 three”  18  The Original ‘Big Three’ refers to the three top mambo bands in New York during the mambo craze of the 1950s. The bands led by Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez and Machito were in direct competition, and led to legendary infighting and rivalry between them. (Visser 9)  25 At this time, the center of salsa music and dancing was a Greek restaurant on West Broadway Street called Mesa Luna. Both the building and the business was owned by a German businessman named Hans Schroeder and his brother. The club was one of only three venues in Vancouver to possess a coveted cabaret license, allowing for the sale of alcohol with live music over ten musicians. Because of Vancouver’s complex licensing laws, this gave them a monopoly on having these large salsa bands perform regularly without the threat of getting shut down by the police. Hans used this to his advantage, and, being most popular Latin music club in town, the bands were desperate to perform. This allowed Hans to play band against band to undercut the price of the entertainment, all the while making large sums of money off the bar sales.  Despite the politics, Mesa Luna was pivotal to the growth of salsa music in Vancouver. It was here where most of the current salsa orchestras got established and perfected their sound. New bands were given the chance to perform, dancers of all backgrounds showed off their latest moves, and seasoned musicians mentored the younger generation of players on and off the bandstand. With a home in the city for salsa music to be performed and appreciated, the scene grew fast and musicians were kept busy keeping up with the demand.  b. Latin Jazz While Mesa Luna was thriving as the center of salsa music, the market for Latin music continued to grow outside and around the city. New venues opened up and festivals across the province began booking more international and local Latin music ensembles. At this time, many of the core players who had started with the big salsa bands broke off and started their own groups, sometimes in response to the growing commercial possibilities of salsa, while others were a response against it. Each new ensemble  26 performed their own individual interpretation of the salsa tradition and emphasized different characteristics of music.  In 1995, bassist Al Johnston and trombonist Brian Harding co-founded the band Grupo Jazz Tumbao as an outlet for their interest in the jazzier side of the music. Johnston recalls his early impressions of Latin jazz:  At the time, Latin Jazz was more Latin with solos straight ahead groove, danceable. But there was also a scene that was always around that was jazz in dave, with bands like Jerry Gonzales and the Fort Apache band. Bands that swung, (with jazz) harmonies and melodies, but in dave based forms. That’s what we tried to form, a sort of bebop-in-clave thing. (20 04:3) —  Following Johnston, conguero Jack Duncan, a staple of many local salsa rhythm sections, started his own project. Shango Ashe was a seven-piece Latin jazz combo that blended folkloric Afro-Cuban rumba with elements of funk and jazz. At the same time, Rafael Geronimo’s Rumba Calzada took a more commercial approach, moving away from straight ahead salsa music for dancers towards a smoother Latin jazz sound. He changed the instrumentation of the band, adding vibraphone and saxophone, and began touring the jazz festival circuit. Mexican pianist George Hernandez, the long-time pianist for Orquesta Tropicana, left to start Grupo Vallarta that played Latin pop with an emphasis on the Mexican styles of norteno and ranchera.  c. Expresion Juvenil  During this period, the author himself was initiated into the salsa community when he joined the upstart band Expresion Juvenil. Formed in 2001 by Salvadorian brothers Sergio and Francisco Hernandez, the band showcased the talents of a new generation of young musicians. A student at Vancouver Community College, Sergio recruited the  27 top talent from the school’s Latin Jazz Orchestra, including Japanese pianist Niho Takase, Canadian trumpeters Bryan Davies and Ian Cohen, and percussionists Lucas Schuller. Along with these music students, they added members of their Latin church music community including Nicaraguan singers David Lopez and Cathy Lopez (no relation), Guatemalan trombonist Byron ‘Sumo’ Ruiz, Mexican percussionist Elder Perez and the brothers Sergio on alto saxophone and Francisco on electric bass.  The band began performing at local Latin community events, small clubs and private parties, playing a selection of styles similar to that of the other local big bands. In September 2002, helped in part by a bitter dispute at Mesa Luna about money that divided the leaders of the club’s main bands Tropicana and BC Salsa, Grupo EJ (as they were known) landed the coveted Saturday night spot. This high-pressure and highexposure opportunity forced the band to improve fast, motivating every musician to fully engage in the ensemble and the music.  New Directions (2002-present) A sign posted at 1926 West Broadway says that Mesa Luna is closed for renovations, but those in the know have reason to suspect this will be a more permanent closure. The restaurant regularly featured Latin music and salsa dancing. Promoter Malcolm Croome told the Straight on May 9 that the venue’s demise came with little warning. “I called there on the weekend to set up times for our show, which was supposed to be tonight, and found out from the person who runs the building that the owners had taken off, basically, and pulled everything out of the venue, and that was that,” Croome said. “No one told us, and I don’t think they were planning to tell us... It’s very strange.” “Mesa Luna shuts its doors” by John Lucas, as seen in the Georgia Straight May 11 2006  28 The demise of Mesa Luna between 2002-6 paralleled the end of the salsa boom and marked the decline of global mainstream interest in Afro-Latin music. By 2002, audiences had moved on from salsa, and in Vancouver the music returned to being a niche market with limited popular appeal. Though salsa as a classroom dance continued to thrive, audiences that supported the bands by attending live events declined. The bandleaders of the dance orchestras tried in vain to recapture the success of Mesa Luna in other venues, many of which went bankrupt. The audiences were simply no longer there. Over the next five years, many of the bands that had thrived in the late 1 990s broke up or stopped performing live.  The scene was changing and the only active bands remaining were small ensembles working at smaller venues. The new ensembles that formed were three to six musicians in size, such as bassist Mark Beaty’s Cuban son band La Candela, The Benavides Band led by Columbian brothers William and Miguel Benavides, and later, the five-piece band Puro Son led by trumpeter Miguelito Valdez.  a. D’TaIIe and the Cuban injection One of the most important events to occur in the local Afro-Latin music scene during this time was the arrival of the all-girl Cuban show band D’TaIIe. This was a touring group from Havana that had first defected in Toronto in 2001, then relocated to Vancouver in 2004. Here they were under the helm of promoter/business man Alan Bigsby who attempted to manage them and book them as an international touring act. Over a four year span, he invested thousands of dollars in housing and financing, yet the band never broke out. By this time the local scene had dried up and D’Talle stopped performing live. The ten highly skilled musicians then settled in Vancouver and injected the local scene with a talented group of skilled musicians. In addition to the benefit of having these  29 world-class musicians added to the city’s salsa community, over the next four years the women brought over their Cuban husbands, many of whom were also professional musicians.  One of the most successful spin-offs from D’Talle was the band Puro Son. This quintet, led by master trumpeter Miguelito Valdez, performs in the traditional Cuban son style and features wife Cynthia Rodriquez (ex-D’TalIe) on keyboards, timbalero Eddie Labrada, Conguero Jesus Valdez, bassist Arianne Valdes and singer Sahili Gonzalez. Other musicians from the band, including lead singers Danay Sinclair and Mayalin Soriano, and drummer Gilberto Moreaux, have become in-demand musicians and have established themselves as top call professionals in a variety of Latin, African and pop groups.  b. Tanga One of the bands that Danay Sinclair and Gilberto Moreaux now perform with is Tanga, the latest addition to the legacy of Vancouver-based Afro-Latin orchestras. This fourteen-piece band evolved out of the band Expresion Junenil, taking core members like vocalist David Lopez, pianist Niho Takase, trumpeter Bryan Davies and percussionist Miguel Benavides. The band draws from the Afro-Latin big band tradition with an emphasis on performing new and original music. The members of Tanga represent the newest generation of Latin music performers and have established themselves as the most popular salsa band in town. Their debut album Simmer and  Seive was released in May 2006 and featured new compositions by Miguel Benavides, Niho Takase and arrangements by Malcolm Aiken. The band’s music has been played on radio in Germany, Austria, Japan, Korea, Columbia and the US, and has sold albums worldwide.  30 It is because of the author’s extensive experience working alongside local Latin music artists and through the development of a successful band in the salsa tradition that the motivation for the present research exists. With the history of the music being established in both an international and local context, this study now moves into a more nuanced examination of the music and its impact on local musicians and music making. Drawing from case studies of several prominent local Latin music artists, most of whom were not born into the music culture, I highlight issues of identity, performance and musicianship in the production of salsa music. Of special focus is the education of these musicians in the tradition and the learning process that occurs through live performances and group practice.  31 CHAPTER FOUR: CASE STUDIES  The data analyzed for this chapter is drawn from interviews conducted with prominent local Latin music artists. To maintain its focus on large ensemble salsa bands, participants were selected based on their connection to these local groups as leaders, composers and/or side players, and on their involvement both musically and socially in the community.  I begin with an introduction of each case study in which I outline how and why they became involved with salsa music. I then provide a detailed analysis of my data categorized by three common social and music themes: Musical Education, Non-Musical Education and Identity. In each section I examine the collective issues and challenges facing these musicians during their careers and position them within the context of the Latin music scene and the development of local salsa music. Guiding my presentation are the points of interest outlined in the Methodology section and the issues highlighted in the preceding section, Motivation for Research.  Introduction of Participants  1) Vancouver-born Alan Johnston (b. 1950) is the city’s most acclaimed Latin music bass player. Beginning his career as a heavy metal bassist, his first exposure to Latin music came through the Latin-rock fusion band Santana. In 1978, he attended the jazz program at Capilano College and began freelancing around the city in a variety of local Afro-Latin bands including Jubaleo, Mandito and African Heritage. After a year, he left Vancouver to take a gig with a show band on a cruise ship, a job that he would have for almost ten years. It was during one lengthy contract on a ship in the Caribbean that he developed his life-long interest in salsa music.  32 I got drafted to play on a cruise ship in the Caribbean which was a lifechanging experience for me. I was in San Juan Puerto Rico, I was buying CDs and I was getting deep deep into the music, I was on a cruise ship with nothing to do except listen to music and play my bass to it... .listen to bass players and then go back to the record store and buy five other cds with a bass player who was mentioned on another cd. So I collected 3-4-5 hundred salsa cds. And that is where I got into the music. (2004:4) Al retired from the ships in 1988, and for the past 20 years has devoted his musical career to performing with and leading several salsa/Latin jazz bands. He is a founding member of the salsa bands La Clave and Goma Dura, and today leads his own Latin jazz projects Grupo Jazz Tumbao and Zapato Negro.  2) Born in Macati, Phillipines, Raphael Geronimo (b. 1966) was only seven years old when his family immigrated to Vancouver. The son of influential percussionist Boying Geronimo, Raphael at first rejected the Latin music played by his father and instead preferred playing the music of Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and the Rolling Stones. His interest in Latin music was first piqued at ten years old, when his father took him to see the band Santana. From that moment Raphael began a musical apprenticeship with his father, who trained him in a variety of Afro-Caribbean and Jazz styles. As he recalls:  (in the beginning) It was mostly a great appreciation for listening to music. Playing it, no, I couldn’t play a lot of the stuff yet; I was really just playing rock... But I didn’t know the dave patterns yet, I wasn’t really familiar with that.... I was just exposed to tons of Latin jazz, from since I was really young, so just listening to the music all through my weekends and special Christmas parties. My dad would have parties; my dad would always bring over bands, like after an Eddie Palmieri concert or Poncho Sanchez. They’d hang out at the house and they would play. (Geronimo 2007:3) 3) Pianist and composer Niho Takase (b. 1973) first came to Vancouver from Japan in 1997 to study ESL. Instead, she pursued a life long interest in jazz, and enrolled in the contemporary music program at Vancouver Community College. Under the tutelage of  33 the late Kathy Kidd, a world music specialist, she was exposed to a variety of Afro-Latin musical styles and became a dedicated student of the dave. She is now a specialist in the Afro-Cuban jazz piano tradition and has studied with the virtuoso Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes in Havana and spent time in New York at the Latin Jazz Academy of Manhattan. Her first experience with salsa was with the VCC Latin Jazz orchestra under the direction of Dr. Salvador Ferreras, and now performs with her own groups as well as the salsa band Expresion Juvenil and its offshoot Tanga.  4) Vancouver-born trumpeter/composer John Korsrud (b. 1966) was the first non-Latino horn player to play salsa music in Vancouver. A skilled lead trumpet player, John worked full time in salsa bands during the 1990s until he suffered severe hearing damage that left him unable to perform regularly in clubs. Today his outlet for salsa is his twenty-piece band Orquesta Goma Dura.  5) Edgar Romero (b.1960) and his brother Martin emigrated from Lima Peru in 1985, and lived in Winnipeg before moving to Vancouver. Aspiring percussionists since they were young, they began performing professionally in their teens. As he recalls: When I was 12 years old I dreamed of working in the recording studio. The scene in Peru was huge. I was living across the Street from a dance hall with live bands every Friday and Saturday. Every week I would listen to the professionals play. We didn’t have instruments to play so we would play the rhythms we heard on the fenders of an old car. Banging along with the music. That was my first instrument a car shell. (Romero 2008: 5). —  Since they arrived in Vancouver, the Romero brothers have been at the forefront of the local salsa music scene. Beginning with small bands performing at rent parties, they would go on to create Vancouver’s first salsa orchestra and bring live salsa music to audiences across the city. Through their bands, Edgar and Martin have provided  34 countless opportunities for young musicians to learn the music and have acted as mentors to many current players.  6) Acclaimed educator and percussionist Dr. Salvador Ferreras came to the west coast in 1980 from Detroit to work as the timpanist for the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. He soon moved to Vancouver and has since become an important figure in the local arts community. Since then he performed with many of the local Afro-Latin bands, and has led his own band, Salsa Ferreras. He has been a key mentor to students of world music through his educational positions at Vancouver Community College, Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia.  Data and Analysis: Common Themes a. Musical Education, Training and Development i. Studies Abroad Learning a musical style in its native culture plays an important role in an artist’s perception of the music. For all those in this study, it was the time spent studying salsa abroad that most significantly shaped their understanding of the music and the cultures from which it came. While today Vancouver has a strong community of Latin music performers and educators, it has been only in the past decade that young musicians were able to seriously study salsa at home. Before that, the only option was to go travel abroad. For some, like Rafael Geronimo, Niho Takase and the Romero Brothers, New York City was the obvious choice; the city had been the North American center for salsa for over forty years. In addition to the experience of living in New York and immersing oneself in the vibrant New York Latin music culture, there were several institutions that specialized in the education of Latin Jazz music, such as the Boys Harbor Performing  35 Arts Center and the Manhattan Latin Jazz Workshop. It was at Boys Harbor that Geronimo and the Romero brothers took classes, and participated in jam sessions with famous salsa musicians like Jimmy Sabater, Richie Ray and Oscar Hernandez, and members of Tito Puente and Mark Anthony’s bands.  The Romeros first studied salsa at Boys Harbor. It was there where they learned the many intricate Afro-Cuban rhythms that make up the music’s texture, and began to understand how they all relate to one central unit, the dave. By studying this fundamental rhythmic cell, they learned how the music is composed and why the music they were playing before sounded out of synch with what they heard on recordings. As Edgar recalls: “With Boying (Geronimo) we were talking about dave without knowing about dave. Then around 1994 Martin moved to New York and studied at the Boys Harbor... .because there was a hunger, a need, to really understand this music. The only way was to step beyond and go to the source. I stayed here with the band and he would give me lessons by phone. I would record all the he taught me by phone the conga patterns, timbales patterns, campana, how they all relate to the dave. We discovered the dave! And we would practice practice practice!” (Romero 2008:2) —  Niho Takase spent the summer of 2000 in New York studying Latin Jazz music with the bassist John Benitez. The experience not only encouraged her musically, but also in terms of her confidence as an non-Latino playing this music. I was there for two months as part of a summer workshop for Latin Jazz. I got to study with the greats, like Sonny Bravo, John Benitez. Every night there was jam session and a lot of music! It was very different. There, nobody would say that because I am Japanese that I cannot play this music. (Takase 2006:2) In mid-career, musicians still benefit from experiencing a music they understand in different cultural settings. Time spent in Cuba has been pivotal to both John Korsrud and  36  Niho Takase in unlocking the teóhnical nuances of salsa and for furthering their socio cultural understanding of the music. For John it was seeing some of the world’s best salsa bands perform live and experiencing the music from a Cuban’s perspective, while for Niho it was studying with piano master Chucho Valdez and seeing how he interprets the tradition. Studying and experiencing the culture from which the music developed, they returned to Vancouver motivated to recreate that music here. After John’s trip, he reformed Orquesta Goma Dura after a lengthy hiatus. The band is now performing live in concerts and summer festivals. Since Niho’s time in Havana, her playing has reached a new level of proficiency and musicality, and her compositional style has greatly matured.  ii. Training and Skill Development  One question that emerged in this study was how local artists first studied the music at a time when there were no teachers available. As mentioned previously, regardless of cultural background those who wanted to pursue serious training traveled abroad. When not studying in Cuba or New York, many took to learning the music through recorded materials. Using transcription of recorded songs and analysis of video footage, many musicians were able to learn about the music and reproduce its sounds in their own bands.  Until the mid I 990s, the availability of salsa audio and video recordings was severely limited. It was only through contacts in New York or the Caribbean that Vancouver musicians were able to access recordings and educational materials. As John Korsrud recalls, “I remember going to UBC and trying to find theory books (on salsa)  —  of which  there would be none... So back then I was just buying stuff and making Martin make me recordings and I was pretty much learning it from that end” (Korsrud 2006:3). During this time, Edgar taught his band members the music through tapes and records that his  37 family in Peru regularly sent him, and by studying the bootleg videos his brother Martin would bring him on visits back home from New York. As he recounts:  We were learning from videos the only way we could at the time because no one else was doing it in Vancouver we would learn all by ear.. .we continued doing dances and watching videos. I would constantly ask my family in Peru send me videos, we need more vides. We were addicted to videos. Me and my brother would watch videos of concerts and then go down to the basement and practice what we were watching. (Romero 2008:3). —  —  —  One of the shortcomings inherent in this style of learning is that it presents the music without a cultural and social context and overlooks certain musical subtleties and nuances of the performance. As the Romeros realized when teaching novice players, sheet music and transcription are not sufficient materials to produce an accurate performance, as it is not simply the notes or rhythmic patterns that are important. In salsa, understanding the groove and phrasing of these patterns is fundamental, and experiencing how the different rhythmic cells synchronize with the dave is pivotal in creating the correct sound. In the career of Alan Johnston, for example, these inadequacies presented themselves early on. When he first started playing with Latin bands, he struggled with the parts and did not understand the function of his instrument in the music:  (At the time) I didn’t know much about Latin music through from a fusion stand point  —  —  I was faking  I was a fretless bass student  from Cap college who could groove pretty good, but I had no idea what a salsa groove was  —  I was just kind of playing it. And Boying  would always go “you are not playing something right” but he could never tell me what it was. (Johnston 2004:4)  38  It wasn’t until he began learning the music from the professionals in New York that Edgar truly felt competent to perform and teach salsa music in Vancouver. “When we look at the music now,” Edgar explains, referring to the sound of his pre-New York bands, ‘there was something missing  —  it sounded good but  something was not right” (Romero 2). In reaction to a common misconception that all Latinos are born with an understanding of the music, he commented, “salsa and the concept of the dave is not just for Canadian or Latinos to understand understand  —  —  this is for everybody! It’s not something that all Latinos can feel or they too have to learn it. When I went to New York to study, after  Martin had gone, I still had much to learn” (4).  iii. The Stages of Learning  The similar approaches to learning salsa music taken by my case studies education and/or learning through transcriptions  —  —  international  complement a series of learning  stages that, I would argue, are common to most musicians not born into the culture of the music they seek to master. In learning salsa, the cultural background of the student does play an important role in the learning process. For those born in Latin America and the Caribbean, salsa is a common sound on radio and television. Similar to how many North American youth grow up listening to rock and hip hop, musicians in these Spanish speaking countries are exposed to the sound and rhythms of salsa at a young age through pop culture icons like Mark Anthony, Shakira and Oscar De Leon. It is more common for salsa to be introduced to Canadian musicians through their social network and/or through the music of a Latin crossover artist like Santana or Ricky Martin. Many local players of the author’s generation got their first real introduction to salsa by their participating in the local Latin bands as substitute players. High turnover in these bands  39 has given many young musicians opportunities for professional work and exposed them to a wide range of Afro-Caribbean music.  In the following section, I categorize the educational development data of my case studies into a graduated series of learning stages. For non-Latino musicians learning salsa, the learning process is gradual and typically takes many years. This educational path provides the reader with a clear understanding of how Canadian musicians are brought into the salsa community and why some remain amateurs while others become specialists.  1. Introduction  —  Appreciation  The musician is exposed to salsa music through a colleague, ensemble or through a Latin cross-over artist. For example, the music of Santana, the band that pioneered the Latin-Rock/Rock Latino sound, was the first introduction to Latin music for many musicians. Raphael recalls, “when I was 17, my dad took me to a Santana concert in Vancouver.... I then started appreciating Latin (music). Eventually, that Santana led to Poncho Sanchez, Eddie Palmeri and Tito (Puente), and then I started liking just Latin Jazz and salsa. So that was my bridge there” (Geronimo 2007:3). For Al Johnston, who began his career as a rock bass player, Santana’s music had a spiritual quality that attracted him, and the band’s use of many different Afro-Latin rhythms caught his ear. As he explained: My first experience with Latin music was the very first album I bought when I was 11 years old Santana’s Abraxas. My brother in law, he had this cougar and we drove across the country and had an 8-track of Santana Abraxas and that just addicted me. I was just starting bass at the time and the very first thing I learned was Oye Como Va by Tito Puente. My experiences with that album were so deep that I grasped a lot of the things I could play immediately like Black Magic Woman there was so much to listen to. I mean some of it went over my head but listening to it -  —  —  40 now 30-35 years later, its stuff that went over my head is so deep. Every feel that I’ve played in the 30 years since is from that one album. (Johnston 2004:4) Niho and I had our introduction through colleagues and teachers. Through our participation in VCC’s Latin jazz ensemble directed by Sal Ferreras, we were exposed to many different Afro-Caribbean musical styles. Niho was also exposed to the music in private piano lessons:  When my first jazz piano teacher was trying to teach me to play jazz, I couldn’t swing! I played really straight and she said, “well try this bossa nova pattern,” and I got it right away. So that was it! For my first year jury I had to play two songs. So I picked Moshkinada (a latin jazz standard), and Kathy said that she loved playing Latin Jazz so she suggested that they learn more about playing Latin Jazz. She said that everyone wanted to learn jazz, why not try something different? I was the only one interested in Latin music, so we pursued that path. So, for that jury I played all my jazz standards Latin. Stella by Starlight was turned into a Latin-jazz piece! (Takase 2006:2). —  2. Absorption (Listening/Watching) Following the introductory process, the next stage of learning involves self-directed study through listening, watching and transcribing the music. This process improves the musician’s understanding of the construction and nuance of the music, and teaches them the role of their chosen instrument in the salsa performance.  During the I 980s and early ‘90s, recordings of salsa music could only be found at specialty stores or ordered through the mail. Most collectors bought records while on holidays. Al Johnston spent his days off wandering the streets of San Juan buying hundreds of albums and getting “deep deep into the music” (Johnston 2004:4), while the Romeros got most of their music from visiting friends or family members. Because the scene was so small at the time, there were not many opportunities to see salsa  41 performed live. Video of concerts and bootlegs were often the only way to see how the bands looked and performed on stage. Later, as venues increased and more work opportunities became available, many musicians first experienced this music on the bandstand.  Only in today’s globalized economy has salsa music gained an international audience. Now, musicians from around the world have virtually limitless access to salsa music recordings and video. With new media, music can be purchased (or pirated) online, and most major record stores now carry sizeable Latin-world-salsa collections. In addition, with the worldwide popularity of social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, specialized channels on satellite radio, and You Tube, salsa music is being accessed, disseminated and studied in new ways.  3. Training The next stage of development involves intensive training with a master teacher combined with live performance experience. While today one has access to several local educational institutions and teachers, as I explained, most serious students of salsa travel abroad to hone their skills. Sal Ferreras witnessed this trend firsthand in the 1 980s, as many of his band mates left Vancouver to study salsa in the US and the Caribbean. The most remarkable change was in seen in the late 80s when you had people who had been playing this stuff for years now and had gone to New York, Puerto Rico and Miami and studied. They went and learned how to play montunos properly, and learned to play in dave. The level of percussion playing really rose. People could really play timbales, congas etc. whereas before they really couldn’t. Their hands could do the stuff but they didn’t have the feel (Ferreras 2005:4).  42 At this point, combining this academic training with actual performance experience is pivotal for the student’s growth. Early performing experience often includes subbing in professional salsa bands and participating in school ensembles that perform salsa and Afro-Latin musics. Many of the author’s peer group, including Niho Takase, began their training in Vancouver Community College’s Latin Jazz Orchestra, which led to professional opportunities with working bands and amateur groups. In the cases of Al Johnson, Raphael Geronimo and John Korsrud who grew up at a time when music programs had no such ensembles, their education was through on the job training.  4. Practical Experience  Building on this foundation of training and early performing experience, the student has now established a firm base in the understanding of salsa. He then transforms his training and conceptual knowledge of the music into practical experience as a full time member of a performing ensemble. In this role, the demands of the group on the musician’s abilities, patience and consistency are much greater than with a school ensemble or as a one-time substitute. These full time positions become available as musicians are fired, or quit, and are filled based on the player’s skill level and willingness to commit time, the majority of which is uncompensated.  Musicians in the early part of this stage often perform with newly formed groups, whose time commitment and low pay does not appeal to the more experienced musicians. Younger players are looking for practical experience and may not yet have the skill level required to warrant any long-term positions in the more established bands. This was the case in the career of Niho, myself, and many other VCC musicians who joined the band Expresion Juvenil. In the beginning, the band was mix of music students and church musicians, and only after two years of practicing and performing did it become a  43 professional level group. Starting out, the amateur level of the band hindered Francisco and Sergio’s attempt to attract high skilled players from the other pro bands to fill roles. That gave opportunities to younger musicians to learn the music alongside other amateurs in a lower pressure setting. Unlike the more seasoned professionals, many of whom were uninterested in developing a band from the ground up, the members of Expresion Juvenil were committed to rehearsing and performing, and as a result the band developed faster and became a more cohesive musical unit.  5. Specialist—Leadership Moving into the advanced role of a Latin music specialist is dependent on the musician’s desire to master the genre. To reach this stage the artist must take a vested interest in the development of his own voice in the salsa community. Activities include advanced studies of the music with and without a teacher, performing regularly in Latin music ensembles, attending live performances, and, most importantly, directing an independent musical project.  In taking a position of leadership with his/her own ensemble, the musician develops new compositions and a distinct performance presentation. In addition to the important organization, communication and management skills required in any leadership role, the most important musical skill required as a bandleader is the ability to teach. In large ensembles that are the focus of this study, it is common to be working with musicians with little or no experience with the genre. Alternatively, one may also lead a project with specialist musicians, with the inherent challenge being navigating through the differing skill levels and egos to produce one unified sound.  44 The latter is the case with the author’s own project, Tanga, which employs some of the city’s top Latin music artists, many who have decades more experience with the music than I. One of the most challenging aspects of having a band of specialist musicians is maintaining the original vision for the band while accommodating the experience and advice from its senior players. One such musician is timbalero GilbertoMoreaux, an Afro-Cuban percussionist whose experience as a performer is vast: seven world tours with the Cuban timba band Bamboleo and recordings with some of Latin music’s biggest names. Because of his background and talent in the style, Gilberto has a fixed idea of how salsa music should sound and while some of his concepts are in line with those of the leader, others are not. The sound of salsa in Cuba is different than that of other places such as New York or Columbia, and disagreements over style and technique often arise.  In the careers of my case studies, many have reached this level of specialization. Though age and experience are not the sole determining factors to whether a band succeeds, it can be seen that those musicians who have not progressed through the established stages of learning often do not succeed as bandleaders. Several examples exist of people with limited knowledge of the music attempting to start bands. During the time of this study, three amateur musicians in the community, Jose Tonyun, Eddie Labrada and Diego Kohl, tried to build their own working Afro-Latin dance bands. In each case, inexperience, lack of musical understanding and poor leadership abilities all led them to fail. Over the last ten years, it has been leaders like Al Johnston, Raphael Geronimo and Edgar Romero, whose musical lives are entrenched in the music and who continue to pursue a high level of proficiency, that are able to lead projects that continue to be an important part of the scene and will remain relevant in the future of salsa in Vancouver.  45 b. Technical and Socio-Cultural Challenges The second group of themes references common challenges faced by my case studies during their careers. Here, I highlight the specific techniques required for successful performance, focusing on the understanding of Afro-Latin rhythms and phrasing, and explore the socio-cultural learning that occurs from participation in salsa bands.  i. Understanding Fundamentals In salsa music, a fundamental concept for musicians to grasp is the dave. This two-bar rhythmic cell is the underlying foundation for all melodic, harmonic and rhythmic material of a song, and the knowledge of how they fit together is essential for accurate performance practice. In Vancouver, most commercial musicians are formally trained in the jazz tradition where the beat emphasis is on the 2 and 4 of each bar. In most AfroLatin musics however, the emphasis is on the 1 and 3. When asked what is the biggest challenge for a bandleader to teach new players, Edgar replied:  The foundation to our music is the pulse, it’s the one and three rather than the 2 and 4. That’s the foundation to our house... This concept of the rhythms is so important to pass on to the musicians so that they can understand the underlying foundation to the music. Even the singers who are Latinos some have a problem coming in on time (because they don’t understand the dave). Salsa (the concept of the dave) is not just for Canadian or Latinos to understand- this is for everybody!. When I went to New York to study, I still had much to learn. I had to work on staying in the tempo of the 1 and 3.ln order to produce the right feel you have to know where the dave is and where to put the beats in accordance to dave. (Romero 2008:4). —  —  —  —  Teaching the dave to novice musicians can be challenging, especially to those brought up in the western music tradition where syncopation is not a central component of the music. While the dave is often mystified by musicians within the music scene, it simply takes patience and dedication listening to the music to understand how it functions. In  46 my experience teaching this concept, once someone has internalized the pulse of the dave, it no longer becomes such a foreign concept and simply appears as another layer of salsa’s dense rhythmic texture. As Al Johnston explained, “sometimes you have to point it out. The thing is... .the more you learn about dave, the more you hear how something sounds good or it doesn’t” (Johnston 2004:2).  This distinction between beat emphasis is fundamental for one’s ability to ‘feel’ the music and to accurately read it on a page. One of the challenges for novice players is the execution of the rhythmic units, most of which break the bar into two parts. Musicians brought up playing and listening to jazz music place their phrases behind the center of the beat, giving that music it’s ‘swing.’ In salsa, the opposite approach is required. As Al Johnston explains: It’s a real learning experience for horn players, because horn players are brought up in the (jazz) big band. There the style is to sit back on things everyone learns from the Basie Band man, you almost play on the beat behind and it swings so hard. Latin music doesn’t swing if you sit on it, you gotta nail it right on the top of things. That is something that even the best musicians have had to deal with because they have got so good at playing big band music but not Latin big band music. (Johnston 2004:3).  —  —  —  In addition to the challenges of playing salsa, when playing in a Latin big band one is also faced with performing a variety of different Afro-Latin styles. Besides salsa, performers must also be aware of styles such as the cumbia, merengue, cha cha cha, bachata and reggaeton. While the music of these styles is for the most part less complex harmonically and melodically, there are often challenges in form and tempo. Many merengues, for instance, are performed at very fast tempi and contain uneven phrase lengths and sudden time changes.  47  ii. Cultural Understanding Latin big bands provide an opportunity to Canadian musicians to play with artists from a variety of backgrounds who often bring to the ensemble a different attitude and approach to music making. This can be inspiring and educational, but at the same time challenging. Besides the different technical skill set required 19 Canadian musicians are also faced with a variety of social and cultural challenges in performing this music.  While salsa has become an international music style, it is still strongly connected to Latino culture and identity. The most obvious barrier between the musicians is language. Besides the songs being sung in Spanish, most communication in rehearsal and performance is not done in English, which can leave the non-Spanish speakers musicians feeling excluded. To overcome this challenge, many of the more senior Canadian players have taken it upon themselves to learn Spanish to some degree. This ability helps breaks down many cultural barriers and provides the musicians with a whole new insight into how the music is created, its terminology and general band politics.  The attitude towards the preparation of the music also tends to differ with the cultural backgrounds of the players. For the most part, the Canadian musicians are formally trained and have a certain expectation of how the music should be rehearsed and performed reflecting their upbringing in a structured music institution. Few Latino musicians have any formal music training, and most learn by listening to recordings. This way, many have developed a highly skilled ear, and are often more adept at picking out the nuance and subtleties of the music. Such qualities are not often transferable to the written page and are a main reason why even the most highly trained musicians may at  19  This includes executing the heavily syncopated rhythms, loud dynamics, strong articulations, and playing on top of the beat.  48 first sound out of place playing salsa. Unless you listen to the music outside rehearsal, even perfect reading of the music falls shorts of a good performance.  One of the most telling discoveries in this research, however, was the extent of the camaraderie between the musicians. Nowhere did I find a dismissive attitude from Latinos towards the abilities of the Canadians. For many, having Canadian musicians perform salsa music and integrate themselves into their culture is seen as an honor. As Al described, “there was never any “gringo-whitey” thing. We are all musicians.. .there is a lot of love between musicians in this town. Very heartening. We are all in this together” (Johnston 2004:2). Perhaps this is the strongest example of salsa as a truly pan-cultural music, one that has broken down any false notions of “authenticity” towards musicians of any culture being able to perform this music at a high level.  c. Musical identity and Artistic Development Performing salsa music in large orchestras has played a serious role in the shaping of artists’ musical identities. But, has there been a further impact on the construction of their identity as Canadians? Furthermore, do these ensembles help foster a broader multicultural landscape for all those involved, audience and musicians alike? In this final section, I examine how participation in these ensembles has affected the construction of identity and how it has shaped the personal development of the musicians. I explore how the participants have been impacted by this music in different stages of their lives, and why it has become so much a part of their musical personalities. Furthermore, I explore why the big band format has been so significant to both the musicians playing salsa and to the audiences experiencing it, and conclude with an analysis of new technologies and how they are affecting the contemporary salsa music scene and the accessibility of live music.  49 i. Integration in the salsa community For most of the musicians in this study and in this community, becoming a specialist in Latin music was not conscious decision. Their development occurred over a long period of time. While each has a different connection to the music and relationship to the salsa culture, all have taken elements of the style and incorporated them into their own musical and personal character. For John Korsrud, for example, playing salsa not only impacted his trumpet playing, but also affected his approach to composition. While the music he writes is far from anything recognizably salsa, certain musical and nonmusical elements have influenced his original music. As John reflects:  I make my living as a composer so my studying of Latino music, the brassiness, the groove and just the excitement that the music can bring I have learned a lot about that. Also, just the interesting irony that it is an incredibly simple music but an incredibly complex music at the same time. How they feel the groove and all that sorts of stuff. Even harmonically it is just two or three chords. But it has afforded me as a musician, as a composer quite a lot. I realize that as a composer I look back on what I have wrote and try to figure out where this stuff comes from and I see ‘oh yeah, its that thing from Latin music, from salsa music. (Korsrud 2007:3). —  John has been a part of the Latin music community since the very beginning, first as an instrumentalist, then as a bandleader and composer. His first exposure to the music opened his ears to a totally different sound concept and his experiences within this musical context extended his musical voice into an entirely new soundscape. “You get that aggressiveness and the hip arrangements,” John explained enthusiastically, “screaming high trumpets, solos, all that sort of stuff” (2).  John acknowledges the vital importance of these ensembles to the health of the music scene. In today’s highly synthesized popular music scene, opportunities for musicians to learn and grow are drying up, and live music is becoming an increasingly rare  50 commodity. “It requires a certain type of musician,” John explains about these bands, “as a trumpet player you need to be strong to do it, you need a lot of chops.. .those old fashion lead players are a dying breed in the city because there are no longer working jazz big bands.... blues bands, R&B bands no longer use horn sections so in a sense Latin bands are one of the very few kinds of musics that employ horn players” (2).  For Al Johnston, the impact of his over thirty years playing salsa and Latin music manifests in his life both musically and spiritually. Performing salsa made him a more well rounded musician by allowing him to develop other skills such as singing and dancing. “Playing in La Clave,” Al reflected, “made me a better musician because in one aspect it reacquainted me with my vocal side... .this got me back in to the whole singing and dancing, rocking out thing. And it also taught me skills  —  —  not so much knowledge, but  singing and dancing at the same time skills, reading skills” (Johnston 2). Beyond  the technical aspects of the music, salsa’s influence extends into his spiritual side. Even from his first experiences, the sonic and rhythmic qualities of salsa music have had a profound impact on him as a person. “The very first thing I learned was Oye Como Va by Tito Puente,” Al explains, “Every feel that I’ve played in the thirty years since is one (rooted) in that album.” When asked what elements of the music drew him in, Al reflected, “Life... really. You hear the beginning of Oye Come Va. Just the dun, dun, dun, dun.. .sabor! It just hits you right there, no matter who you are, you nod your head to it, it immediately catches you” (2).  The influence of family and childhood on the development of one’s musical character is also significant. Al relates his devotion to learning and experiencing Latin music at all levels to his upbringing as a child. “I have always been attracted to the foreign thing,” he explains, “as a family we used to open up the encyclopedia and look up exotic words  51 and places. That’s why I ended up buying Santana at eleven years old, and learning to play shortly after there.” For someone like Raphael Geronimo, born in the Philippines with a father who played Caribbean music, growing up in the ‘foreign’ landscape of Canada, music was an outlet for personal expression and helped him form his own identity as a child. Music always played a central role in his life, though the music he plays today is different from what he first was attracted to as a youth. “I was exposed to Latin Jazz since I was born pretty much, but I never liked it.” Raphael explains, “I always rebelled against my parents. And then eventually, something came in me that I just started loving this music, I don’t know what it was. Maybe it’s my destiny or something. It hit me when I was seventeen, I just started loving Eddie Palmieri and Arto Moreira, and how all (the rhythms) fit together” (Geronimo 2007:2). This motivated Raphael to begin studying seriously and draw upon his father’s extensive knowledge during his training.  Early training provided Raphael with a solid foundation and desire to learn, but it was in the big bands where he experienced the music first hand. His first performance opportunities came with the band Tropicana when a friend of his father recommended him to Carlos Martinez. Performing with a professional band and learning from the more experienced players was the pinnacle of his training. As he explained: Tropicana, that’s how I started, playing in those bands was a really good start for me, because it was established. They taught me how to play Cumbias, for example. I first heard it in Tropicana and then really in BC Salsa, when Julio played the traditional floor torn. Cumbia with the ping and I was like “Wow! This is great stuff!” So learning the Cumbia and learning other rhythms too. I learned how to play Merengues from Chucky, Carlos Martinez and Julio Carlito. It was my first big band experience and working with a 10/12 piece band, getting to know everybody listening to all the sounds, respecting all the sounds, not to overplay, because these are big bands, you’ve really got to watch your musicianship, you can’t shine too much because it will just be mud. You’ve just got to play your part and then go for it. (Geronimo 2007:3)  52 Today, Raphael draws upon these experiences in his own project Rumba Calzada where he performs many of the styles he learned during his tenure with the big bands. His experiences parallel those of other musicians in the community. Summarizing the importance of the salsa band tradition in Vancouver for younger musicians, he explained:  Those bands are important because they’ve been around for so many years and a lot of players have filtered through those bands, eventually to do new and other projects and that’s what I did. I kind of started out with Tropicana and BC Salsa and eventually I ran Rumba Calzada, which is my main thing. I respect those bands a lot and I respect what I’ve learnt from them and being in them. So they filter in a lot of musicians who just love the music. It’s a good thing that they’re here, it’s a good thing that they’re doing, because they provide a lot of work and experience for people who are starting out and wanting to pursue this field in Latin Music. They’re there and they’ve always been there and they’re still going. (Geronimo 2007:3) ii. Audiences and Technologies  Over the past twenty-five years, the global audience for salsa music has grown in size and has greatly diversified: Locally, the music’s appeal has transcended language and cultural barriers to become a mainstream music heard on popular radio like the CBC, and in concerts around the city by countless local bands. As discussed in chapter two, the spread of salsa’s appeal has been a result of three main factors: the internationalization of salsa, the growing Latin diaspora and the growth of salsa dance culture. All have impacted the ethnic diversity and sheer size of audiences for salsa and the local big bands.  When Edgar Romero first began putting on salsa parties in the 1 980s, the majority of his audience was middle-aged Spanish speakers. “Mostly semi-professional people,” Edgar recalls, “those that could afford to go to a dance, 75% Latinos and 25% Canadians, the  53 average age was about 35” (Romero 2008:3). Most had been born in Latin America and were exposed to this music at a young age. Attending these events was a way of maintaining important ties to their culture and the diaspora community. Later as the music became more popular and salsa as a recreational dance style caught on in the mainstream, the audiences diversified. “In 1994,” Edgar recalls, “it moved to 60/40.” When Mesa Luna opened in 1995 and became the focal point of salsa music in Vancouver, the non-Latino audiences outnumbered the traditional Latino audience 40/60. This did not reflect a lessening of the music’s appeal to the Latino crowd, but a sharp increase in the number of non-Latino clientele who came to watch and dance to the music of the big bands that performed there every week.  As the salsa music phenomenon came to an end during the first decade of the new millennium, the big bands were working less, but dance classes and DJ-only parties thrived. This came as a result of entrepreneurs like Ran Ben-Nissim, the owner of the salsa entertainment company City Salsa Vive. He saw the market for salsa as a social dance and exploited the availability of free music through illegal downloading. By amassing a large collection of music and using a laptop computer, he could DJ the parties himself and cut out the cost of hiring a live band. By putting on cheaper dance parties, he was able to siphon off the crowds from the more expensive venues with live salsa. For a musician like Al Johnston, who is deeply entrenched in the culture of salsa, this separation of the dance and the live music accompaniment was a tragedy, one that betrays the very essence of salsa as a social music:  The salsa community has abandoned the live bands. The salsa community is largely doing DJ nights at a couple of cheap halls, with a couple DJs and the teachers are bringing all their students. To me, the tragedy is that from the beginning it was the dancers and the musicians who created it simultaneously, together. One is no good without the other.  54 Now you have a bunch of people who were not born inside the culture and they are being detached from the music even. So they are detached from the culture and the music! They learn some nice moves but it is from a visual aesthetic rather than an aural aesthetic. (Johnston 2004:2) —  The music industry as a whole is suffering from the exploitation of new technologies and salsa is no exception. In all genres, rampant illegal downloading had led to a rapid decline in record sales, a major source of income for artists. In the salsa world, this has caused many labels to drop artists and stop recording, forcing many to return to the touring circuit to earn a living. While this can be good for the audiences who are given more chances to see their favorite salsa bands live, without the push for new music, there is a real threat of musical stagnation if less new music is being created and experienced. Additionally, as the older musicians are returning to the road to make money, fewer opportunities are available for the next generation of artists to gain that experience, impacting the future legacy of salsa. As Edgar Romero put it: The Internet is a weapon against the musicians. Without people buying records the only way for bands to survive is by going on the road, touring, playing live. Only a few musicians in the scene can survive without traveling studio work, arranging etc. But for the majority you have to travel, be on the road, etc. And that can be stressful! —  In order to compete financially it is even harder than before... .it was hard before but it is even harder now, so if someone is doing it, it is for the love of the music. People aren’t selling music anymore, all you can do is get your music played on the radio for free and do the festival circuit. Look at Spanish Harlem Orchestra, look who is playing, they are all top notch but they have no choice but to tour. (Romero 2008:4)  55 CHAPTER FIVE: TRANSCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS  I now move to a theoretical examination of the music itself. In my transcription and analysis, I aim to show how the city’s diversity of cultures influences the composition of local salsa compositions. Using two contrasting selections of contemporary salsa, I explore how different cultural and social-musical influences are manifested in their melodic, harmonic and formal construction. In both the conventional and more contemporary examples, I show how the composer, Miguel Benavides, has drawn from the tradition of salsa composition while injecting his own musical identity by incorporating a variety of non-salsa elements. Miguel is a Columbian-born percussionist who has lived in Vancouver since 1990. He composes for several different local salsa and Latin pop bands. He attended VCC in 2000 and studied Afro-Cuban percussion with Sal Ferreras and drum kit with Dave Robbins. The first selection, “Dime Donde Estas,” is composed in a “son montuno” style,  20  a common salsa song structure, while the second, “Te Veo  Al Fin,” presents a more modern popular approach. Both songs are found on the CD Simmer and Serve released in 2006 by the salsa orchestra Tanga.  “Dime Donde Estas ” 21  Written in 2001 while Miguel was a student at VCC, the song’s lyrics tell the story of a young man’s search for love. Its overarching structure is the two-part son monturio song 22 that uses standard Afro-Cuban montuno, mambo and call-response sections. In form this piece, however, Miguel also adds subtle elements of Latin rock and pop music the -  music of his youth by including structures such as the verse, prechorus and chorus -  sections. By drawing upon a variety of music styles while maintaining the texture and 20 21 22  See Appendix A See Appendix C and D (track 1) As indicated on the transcription  56 form of salsa, he is able to include his own musical voice within a conventional song structure.  It begins with a lone trombone improvising around the melodic material of the verse. The sparse accompaniment by the piano, bass, chimes and cymbals act as texture, and the harmonic progression they outline forecasts the harmonic material of the entire song. In bar 15, the horns hit a dominant chord that leads into section B, where the full rhythm section enters with a standard 2-3 dave salsa rhythmic groove. Here, the vocalist Eduardo Mandiola delivers the opening verse over the l-lV-bVll-l progression.  Following the first verse, we are presented with the pre-chorus section at C where the rhythm section moves into a songo 23 groove over a new iv-i-bVlI-V7 progression. The trombones and trumpets also enter here, thickening the texture with alternating two-bar fills before coming together for the sforzando chord in bars 33-4. After sixteen bars in this new groove, we then return to the rhythmic and harmonic material of the A section with the presentation of the second verse. This time, however, the trumpets enter with two-bar fills between the vocal phrases (bars 3-4 of each 4 bar vocal phrase unit). Then we return to the pre-chorus at section E, an exact repeat of the refrain material of C, with only a vocal cue to indicate the transition into the second part of the song.  Following the second verse, we move out of the son section and into the montuno at F. Here we are presented the repeated 8-bar, l-IV-bVll-V7 section, over which the vocalists alternate the chorus ‘hook’ with improvised responses. This section is commonly referred to as the coro-pregones, or, call and response section. The initial texture of  23  A Cuban dance rhythm invented in the late 1960s, fusing elements of Cuban son with Afro-Cuban rumba, funk and rock. Popularized by the Cuban band, Los Van Van.  57 vocals with rhythm section accompaniment is gradually thickened with trombone pads entering at F 1 and trumpets shots at F , and peaks at the tonic horn shot at the 2 beginning of G.  Following the 32-bar trombone solo over the l-IV-bVll-V7 progression, the song repeats the same material heard at F-G, the only exception being the new improvisations (pregones) of the vocalists. Now, instead of moving into another solo section, the song shifts gears into the mambo section (I), where the familiar 8 bar harmonic progression gets changed and compressed into a four-bar unit. The trombone motif outlines this new I-bVI l-bVl-V7 progression while the rhythm section returns to the songo feel heard previously at sections C and E.  At I, the vocals enter with a variation of the coro line that is doubled by the high register trumpets. At the end of the final phrase, the harmony is extended by one bar over which the horns sustain the G7 chord before resolving on the downbeat shot in the final bar.  58 Dime Donde Estas Formal Breakdown -  BLOCK DURATION  FUNCTION  A  0:00-19  Instrumental Introduction  16 (2x8)  Solo tbn with accompaniment introduces base melodic and harmonic material  B  0:19-36  Verse 1  16 (2x8)  Vocal delivery of text with full RS accompaniment (salsa)  C  0:37-55  Prechorus  16 (2x8)  Continuation of text with new songo groove and new harmonic progression starting on subtonic. Add layered horn bg’s.  D  0:56-1:14  Verse 2  16 (2x8)  Same texture as B with new text and trumpet bg’s filling at end of vocal phrases  E  1:15-1:32  Prechorus  16 Same as C. Sets up montuno section (2x8)  F  1:33-1:50  Montuno  16  Composed 4 bar call (coro) and 4 bar improvised response (progones) over static harmonic progression: I lV-bVll-V7. RS accompaniment only  1 F  1:51-1:59  8  Add trombone fills (continue to G)  2 F  2:00-2:09  8  Add trumpets fill that double the coro line and build to C  G  2:10-2:46  Solo section  H  2:47-3:05  Coro-Pregones 16  # OF MM  32  DETAILS  Trombone solo  —  4x8 bar units  Same as F with new improvised  coros 1 H  3:06-3:14  8  Same as F 1  2 H  3:15-3:23  8  Same as F 2  3:24-3:41  Mambo  16 (4x4)  Trombones plays 4 bar unit over new condensed 4 bar harmonic progression: l-bVll-bVl-V7  l  3:42-4:03  Coda  18 (2x8) Added tpts double vocal line. + 2 bar tag 1 bar extension of dominant with resolution in final bar  59 Dime Donde Estas’ son-montuno form is an example of a typical salsa in the New YorkPuerto Rican tradition. Here, the lyrics are delivered in a clearly defined verse section, called the son, with accompaniment by the rhythm section and the occasional brass interjection. Following the verse, the montuno section, and its characteristic call and response motif provides space for improvisations by the lead singer and the horn players. While the harmonic, rhythmic and melodic language is standard salsa fare, the differences between this and other such songs is the inclusion of a pre chorus with a different rhythmic accompaniment, an element more common in North American pop music, and the brass mambo section at I. While instrumental sections are not uncommon, the doubling of the harmonic motion with the trombones performing a piano montuno-like phrase overtop is atypical. In addition, the new vocal chorus at the end, doubled with the trumpet melody, changes the texture and builds to the ending. A more typical ending would be a return to the introductory material or a repetition of the original chorus. In this song, Miguel changes the songs formal structure to give it a more modern sound while maintaining a close connection to traditional salsa composition.  “Te Veo al Fin ” 24 While the former example presents a more standard salsa song with subtle differences in form, “Te Veo al Fin” is a salsa song with several harmonic and melodic elements rooted in Western pop music. The lyric tells the story of a broken-hearted man who thinks he sees his ex-lover everyplace he travels. In the improvised pregones of the call and response section, the vocalist references the different places around the world he has traveled including “los eternos enero de Canada”  24  See Appendix C and D (track 2)  —  the “eternal winter of Canada”  60 In the song, Miguel departs from traditional salsa writing in his harmonic approach. Once again drawing influence from the dominant western pop music of Canada’s mainstream music scene, he incorporates a variety of pop elements including pedal points, line 25 and non-diatonic chord progessions. In the opening phrase, for instance, he clichés establishes the F tonality in the first four bars, then moves up a major  d 3  to Am where a  line cliché then resolves to D major in last bar. In the opening of the following phrase, he writes a Il-V progression (Dmi-G7) that resolves deceptively to E7 for four bars. To set up the next phrase in the home key of F, one might expect the harmony to modulate to a C7 chord for a clear V-I resolution, but this is not the case. He retains the E7 chord, providing a VIl-I resolution with E7 resolving to the F in the next phrase. In the instrumental interludes (C, E and F) he sets shifts into the tonality of Ami, using a i-bVll iN7 progression, foreshadowing the harmonic materiel used in the latter section of the song (I and J). While this progression is not uncommon, changing keys between verses is not idiomatic to salsa.  In subsequent sections, we have a further example of Miguel’s non-diatonic harmonic approach. The “Coro” sections at G and M are set up with the E7 chord of the previous section and the tonality temporarily shifts to A. Then the progression moves to C for two bars and then to a G triad for the remaining four bars of the phrase. In the instrumental section at letter H, the tonality returns to F major and the melodic material of the intro for four bars. In the second part of the phrase  (jst  ending), the harmony moves from Dmi to  Ami over a six bar phrase, then returns to F on the repeat. The second ending in H, we are taken directly into a new tonality with a sudden transition from F major in the fourth bar to Ami in the fifth. This chord progression of these four bars set up the following 25  A stepwise descending or ascending like that moves against a single stationary chord. Line clichés are often used to reharmonize melodlic phrases that are largely in a. single key. One example is the opening 4 bars of the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine.”  61 coro-pregones section and is the first time in the piece that we remain in a fixed tonality for more than one phrase. After the coro-pregones section of J we return to the previously heard materiel of K, L, M (same as E, F, G) and the song concludes with a revisiting of the instrumental section of H in the final phrase of N. This time, however, the phrase is concluded in a firmer harmonic center with the A minor ensemble chord in the last bar.  Further departures from standard salsa writing in this example are found in the song form used. While he does draw on the son-monunto form, delivering the lyric at the beginning and then introducing the ‘hook’/Coro mid way, he inserts several different sections throughout the piece. What Miguel calls “Coro” at G and M, for instance, serves a different function. Unlike the coro-pregones section in songs like Dime Donde Estas, where a repeated ensemble phrase alternates with improvised responses, here the “Coro” is presented as two repeated eight bar melodic phrases, each with a different lyric, and no pregone-style response. Miguel contrasts this Western pop style chorus with a more standard Coro section later in the piece that begins with a vocal break at I, giving us the repeated vocal line followed by a solo vocal response over a repeated four bar i-bVll-V7 harmonic progression.  62 Te Veo al Fin Formal Breakdown -  BLOCK DURATION  FUNCTION  #OFMM DETAILS  A  0:00-0:19  Instrumental Introduction  B  0:19-0:50  Verses 1,2  24 (2x14)  C  0:50-1:00  Instrumental Interlude  8 (2x4) Tbns melody over I-V7 progression  D  1:00-1:32  E  1:32-1:41  F  1:41-1:50  G  1:50-2:09  Verses 3,4 Instrumental Interlude  16  24  Full ensemble. Introduces harmonic materiel of verse section 2 Verses delivered d brass Bgs 2 time  —  add  Same as B  8 (2x4) New Tbn melody over l-V7 progression 8 (2x4) Add Tpts new melodic line over Tbn ostinato  Corol  H  2:09-2:30  I  2:30-2:34  Coro 2 Break  J  2:34-3:11  Coro-Pregones  K  3:11-3:20  L  3:20-3:30  Instrumental Interlude 1  Instrumental Interlude  M 3:30-3:48  Coro 1  N 3:48-4:11  Instrumental Outro  16 (2x8) Pop Vocal chorus with layered brass backgrounds. New tonal center and Ill-V-Il chord progression  8 (10+8)  4  Intro instrumental materiel into 4 bar shots setting up nd tutti shots at 2 ending Vocal break to introducing chorus  32 (8x4) Repeated call and improvised response between lead singer and chorus in 4 bar phrases 8 (2x4) Same as E 8 (2x4) Add Tpts new melodic line over Tbn ostinato 16 (2x8) Same as G 20 (2x10) Same as first phrase of H with shots to end in final bar.  63 In “Teo Veo al Fin,” the composer draws from a variety of musical influences in the presentation of the song while maintaining its fundamental identity as a song in the salsa idiom. Using the instrumentation, orchestration and vocal delivery common to this style, he is able to inject his own personality through alterations to song form and harmony. His chord progressions are more common to western rock and pop music, and throughout the piece moves through different key centers and modalities. While he utilizes the coro-pregon form and delivers the lyric in typical way, his sometimesawkward use of instrumental interludes, uneven phrase lengths, and non-standard Coro sections showcase Miguel’s attempt to put his own personality into the song while staying rooted in salsa through his use of rhythmic texture and idiomatic instrument 26 The composer stated that while he enjoys the format and harmonic rules of writing. writing satsa, his music often does not fit into this mold. He mentions that he writes melodies and lyrics in a more through-composed style, more similar to the music of Spanish singer-songwriters like Pablo Milanes and Milton Nacimiento. Only after the song is completed, he says, does he comes up with the appropriate coros, instrumental sections and rhythmic layers that transform it into a salsa.  26  This includes mambo sections, background lines, coro-pregones, etc.  64 CHAPTER SIX: CODA  Traditions assume new meanings as emergence in folklore occurs, both in the immediate situation of performance and in a larger socio-historical situation. Syncretic ideologies of salsa musicians seek to encompass the strains experienced during culture change as they maintain continuity with forms from the past while adapting forms to a current situation marked by rapid culture contact. (Baron 1977:225) In his ethnography of the New York salsa community, Robert Baron examines how this music, born in Havana, is being remade and consumed by musicians in a totally new cultural context. He observes that “salsa musicians draw upon and rework tradition while experimenting with the music of several different ethnic groups in this most complex of cultural settings” (209). In this contemporary study, I hope to have shown how Vancouver is a microcosm of a global phenomenon where musicians outside of Latino cultures are performing and interpreting salsa music in new and innovative ways. By providing a history of the music and documenting the development of local ensembles and musicians, I hope to have provided a context for my investigation into the issues of musicality, identity and performance for those involved. In the careers of my case studies, non—Latino musicians working in the salsa community confront a series of musical, social and cultural challenges. As they negotiate the complexities of technique, training and cultural understanding inherent in learning a music tradition outside their own, they draw upon the diversity of both cultures and, I argue, are demonstrating the character of a new syncretic Latino-Canadian identity.  In the performance of salsa, issues of ethnicity are closely related to assumptions and beliefs about musical competence. Throughout this study I have shown how the barriers of integration and acceptance are dissolving, and have dispelled any notions that due to ethnicity, people can or cannot engage successfully in certain practices and activities.  65  By emphasizing the cultural and musical construction of identities, I have attempted to show how despite the range of ethnicities, the musicians in the Vancouver salsa community are successfully engaging the tradition and performing at a high level. In her study of the London salsa scene, Velasquez argues that” cultural identities are not fixed to a place of origin and have no more relevance when thinking of those musicians who perform salsa, who may have no direct or indirect link with Latin America in terms of kinship or place of birth” (Velasquez 2002:3). This is a rejection of the idea that there exists a biologically inherited or ‘natural’ link between the person and the music. As we both argue, it is only through specific practices that one’s identity is formed.  In my investigation of salsa’s history from a Vancouver perspective, and by focusing on local musicians, I have added my voice to other scholarship and demonstrated that the music has transcended its historic and cultural origins. Musicians from Japan to Senegal, Whitehorse to Santiago, are performing, composing and developing salsa music in their own communities and coloring its sound with influences of their own traditions and cultures. This on-going syncretism and evolution helps maintain salsa’s relevance in today’s society by actively promoting integration of musical and ethnic influences. While Latin music in its conventional form may never return to the heights of mainstream popularity as it did during the mambo craze of the I 940s, or the Latin pop era during the I 990s, salsa music and the salsa community will remain an active part of this city’s musical landscape and continue to foster the development of artists from all backgrounds. For the author, performing this music continues to challenge and inspire. It is my hope that the experiences and opportunities that were provided to me early in my career will be available for future generations of musicians not only born into the Latin community, but also for those, whom like myself, became “salsa por adopcion.”  66 BIBLIOGRAPHY, VIDEOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY  Appadurai, Arjun. “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology.” In Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, ed. R. Fox. Santa Fe: School of American Research, 1991. pp. 191-210. Baron, Robert. “Syncretism and Ideology: Latin New York Salsa Musicians.” Western Folklore 36 (1977): 209—25. Berrios-Miranda, Mansol. “Is Salsa a Musical Genre?” In Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meaning in Latin Popular Music, ed. Lise Waxer. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp. 23-50. Blum, Joseph. “The Problems of Salsa Research.” Ethnomusicology 12 (1978), 137—48. Bosch, Jimmy. Salsa in New York. Produced and directed by Ruben Blades. 22mm. Descarga Films, 2002. Videocassette. Bosch, Jimmy. Soneando Trombon. RykoLatino RL1623, 2001. CD. Buena Vista Social Club. The Buena Vista Social Club. Produced and directed by Wim Weders. 105 mm. Road Movies Filmproduktion, 1999. Videocassette. Ferreras, Salvador. “Solo Drumming in the Puerto Rican Bomba: An Analysis of Musical Processes and Improvisational Strategies.” Ph.D Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2005. Interview by author, 22 October 2005, Vancouver. Tape recording. Flores, Juan and Falcon, Angel. “The Cultural Expression of Puerto Ricans in New York: A Theoretical Review.” Latin American Perspectives 3 (1976): 117—52. Geronimo, Raphael. Interview by author, 7, May 2007, Vancouver. Tape recording. Hosokawa, Shuhei. “Salsa no Tiene Fronteras.” In Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meaning in Latin Popular Music, ed.Lise Waxer. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp. 259-287. Johnson, Al. Interview by author, 20, November 2004, Vancouver. Tape recording. Korsrud, John. Interview by author, 4, June 2007, Vancouver. Tape recording. Mauleon, Rebecca. Salsa guidebook for Piano and Ensemble. Petaluma, California: Sher Music, 1993. Morales, Ed. The Latin Beat: Latin Music from Bossa Nova to Salsa and Beyond. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 2003. Pacini-Hernandez, Deborah. “Amalgamating Musics: Popular Music and Cultural Hybridity in the Americas.” In Musical Migrations: Transnationalism and cultural  67 Hybidity in Latin/o America, ed. Frances Aparicio. New York: Paigrave MacMillan, 2003. pp. 13-32. “Race, Ethnicity and the Production of Latino/a Popular Music.” In Global Repertoires: Popular Music written within and beyond the transnational music industry, ed. Andreas Gebesmair. Ashgate, England, 2001. pp. 56-72. Roberts, John Storm. The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States. New York: Oxford University, 1999. Romero, Edgar. Interview by author, 28, August 2008, Vancouver. Tape recording. Singer, Roberta L. “Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Latin Popular Music in New York City”. Latin American Music Review 4 (1983): 183—202. Straw, Will. “Systems of Articulation, Logics of Change: Communities and Scenes in Popular Music.” Cultural Studies Volume 5(3).” 1991:368. Sublette, Ned. Cuba and its Music. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2004. Tanga. Simmer and Seive. Somos Music SMOO2I, 2006. CD. Takase, Niho. Interview by author, 16, November 2006, Vancouver. Tape recording. Velasquez, Patria Roman. “The Embodiment of Salsa: Musicians, Instruments and the Performance of a Latin Style and Identity.” Popular Music 18(1999): 115-131. “The Making of a Salsa Scene in London.” In Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meaning in Latin Popular Music, ed. Lise Waxer. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp. 259-287. Visser, Joop. “Ritmo Caliente: Machito and His Afro-Cubans.” Proper Records PR48, 2002. CD. Washburne, Christopher. “Play It “Con Filin”:The Swing and Expression of Salsa.” In Latin American Music Review 2 (1998): 160-185. “Salsa Romantica.” In Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meaning in Latin Popular Music, ed. Lise Waxer. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp 101-1 32. Waxer. “Salsa.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., 22:175— 176. Edited by Stanley Sadie. New York: Macmillan, 2001. “The Rise of Salsa in Venezuela and Columbia.” In Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meaning in Latin Popular Music, ed. Lise Waxer. New York: Routledge, 2002. pp. 219-245. Yglesias, Pablo. Cocinando: Fifty Years of Latin Album CoverArt. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005.  68 APPENDICES APPENDIX A: TERMINOLOGY • AGUINALDO: A secular religious song sung in Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries at Christmas time. •  BACHATA: A popular song and dance form originating from the countryside and wral neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic.  • BANDA: A brass-based form of traditional Mexican music. •  BOMBA: An Afro-Puerto Rican song form traditionally performed on a set of three vertical drums and maracas.  • BONGO : A set of two small single headed hand drums, held between the knees. Serves as rhythmic accompaniment during verso section, often improvising over top of groove. • CAMPANA: Accompaniment figure to the dave played on the Campana bell typical during the Montuno section of a salsa song. • CASCARA: Counter rhythm to the dave played on the timbales (or Campana bell when timbale is soloing). Usually played in the right hand on the sides of the Timbale with the left hand playing the dave. • CHA CHA CHA: A Cuban dance form. A variant of the danzon, using a medium tempo and marked by a strong downbeat accent. • CLAVE: A five note, bi-measure pattern which serves as the foundation for all of the rhythmic styles in Cuban music. The dave consists of a “strong” measure containing three notes and a “weak” measure containing two notes, resulting in a pattern beginning with either measure, referred to as “three-two” or “two-three.” • CONGAS: Large, conical, single headed hand drum of Cuban origin featured in salsa bands. The typical pattern alternating between closed and open tones. • CORO: Literally, “chorus.” Refers to the backup chorus that alternates with the lead singer. Also refers to the refrain sung by the backup chorus, in alternation with the pregones of the lead vocalist, or as a solo instrument. • CUMBIA: Columbia’s national musical style, based on Afro-Columbian music from Country’s Caribbean Coast, strong pluse on 2 and 4, traditionally played by the conjunto de gaita ensemble. • GUIRO: Hollowed gourd with textured side played with a scraper. Accents beats I &3 with an upstroke followed by two faster strokes (typically a quarter followed by two eighths).  69 •  MERENGUE: Principal popular dance genre of the Dominican Republic, characterized by a fast duple rhythm, sprightly horn choruses, and catchy refrains.  •  MONA: Improvised horn riffs that create excitement in the montuno sections of a salsa song, often in layers and as backgrounds to instrumental solos.  •  MONTUNO: Syncopated rhythmic pattern played by piano or tres that outlines harmonic progression and provides rhythmic accompaniment. Also, the second half of salsa tunes, featuring call and response and heightened rhythmic intensity; instrumental solos might also be played.  •  PLENA: A Puerto Rican style mixing African and European elements, developed mt eh working-class neighbourhoodds of Ponce during the early twentieth century. Played on small round frame drums called pandereras, plena is characterized by topical and satirical lyrics.  •  PUNTA: A traditional music form of music originating in Belize. Contemporary punta or punta rock music has evolved in the last 30 years primarily by Garifuna musicians from Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala.  •  RANCH ERA: A traditional music form from Mexico closely associated with mariachi that evolved in Jalisco during the post-revolutionary period. Rancheras are played today by norteño or banda groups.  •  REGGAETON: A form of urban music originating in Panama that became popular with Latin American youth in the early 1990s. Reggaeton’s origins represent a hybrid of many different musical genres and influences from various countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. The genre of reggaeton however is most closely associated with Puerto Rico, as this is where the musical style later popularized and became most famous, and where the vast majority of its current stars originated.  • SEIS: One of the most typical genres of traditional Puerto Rican jibaro (peasant) music, often featuring a decimal (10 line verse) that is typically improvised, and which is accompanied by guitar, Puerto Rican cuatro, guiro and bongos. • SON MONTUNO: Slow paced son, the prominent form of Cuban music, characterized by a two-part verse/montuno structure. Traditionally played by small bands, son is the basis of salsa. • SONGO: A contemporary, eclectic rhythm which blends several styles, including rumba, son, conga and other Cuban secular as well as sacred styles, with elements of North American jazz and funk. • TIMBALES: Set of two toms, mounted on a stand, played with thin sticks adapted to salsa from earlier styles such as the charanga and mambo. Typically the right hand will play the play the cascara on the side of the timbale while the left hand plays the dave on the side or woodblock.  70  • TUMBAO: The syncopated bass line found in many Afro-Cuban musics that provides harmonic foundation and propels harmonic motion.  71 APPENDIX B: INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTIONS 1) Edgar Romero (Aug  th 29  2008).  DOB: May 12, 1965 (Lima, Peru) Occupation: Musician In Peru, I joined band playing percussion maracas, guiro, cajon. More tropical music than anything else like cumbias, a little Cuban, more South American style, more Columbian. When I was 12 years old I dreamed of working in the recording studio. The scene in Peru was huge. I was living across the street from a dance hail with live bands every Friday and Saturday. Every week I would listen to the professionals play. We didn’t have instruments to play so we would play the rhythms we heard on the fenders of an old car. Banging along with the music. That was my first instrument a car shell. —  —  —  th I Came to Canada in Dec 27 1983. Arrived in Edmonton, very cold, no music to play, no salsa parties. I was frustrated by not having any outlet for music. I finished highschool in Edmonton then moved to Vancouver where my brother Martin was living in 1989. The only latin nightclub here was called the Havana Club an underground club on Hornby Street. There is where I met the first small latin band with George Herandez from Mexico, Eddie Labrada, Jose T was there playing DJ music. I was 18 years old and wanted to here salsa music— not cumbia! —  —  When I was in New York to visit my brother who was living there, we listened to all the big names in Salsa Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, so many band. So, we wanted to replicate that here in Vancouver. WE would bring back all the records from New York to play here in Vancouver. We were hungry for salsa. —  In 1989 me and Martin rented a huge house in Lynn Valley. So we started getting musicians together to make a band. Rafael Cajar, Oliver Santamaria, Ricardo Ivanquo, Carol from Peru. We started a little combo 6 or 7. We started rehearsing and having salsa parties in the basement. We would invite a whole bunch of people and throw parties every weekend. —  Then finally we decided that we needed a place to play. Jorge from Salsa Tres said ‘you are crazy, who is going to hire a 7-8 piece band’. But we did it and found a place on Hastings, an Italian restaurant downtown. We started playing there and it worked. Then we thought we could make it bigger, and started playing in Hotels, this is around 1991, and we started at the Century Plaza Hotel our own parties. At the beginning there was only about 100 people, but then it started to grow. And still people said we were crazy ‘you are not going to make it only playing salsa’. But that all we wanted to play maybe with one or two cumbias or meringues. —  —  —  What was the scene like then?  The audience was mostly semi-professional people. Those that could afford to go to a dance. 75% Latinos and 25% Canadians. The average age was about 35. We had success at the beginning. We were the first salsa band in Vancouver!  72 Boying Geronimo joined our band to play timbales. At the time he was playing with Mandido (not yet with Rumba Calzada), with Sal Ferreras, more afro latin fusion. It was not salsa. They were having parties at the commodore. We were drawn to him by his energy, he was always happy. We had the pleasure of having him on timbales, Martin was playing congas and I was on Bongos. My instrument was bongos and backup. And then we had Fito Garcia on Bass, John Korsrud was there too he was the first salsa horn player in Vancouver that really new the music. And then bit by bit Jaime Croyle, then Brian Harding, Francisco Ayala from BC Salsa, him and Oliver were the main singers. On piano we had Judy Abraham. We played and the latino audiences were like WOW. The sound was big. —  -  But because we were learning from videos the only way we could at the time because no one else was doing it in Vancouver we would learn all by ear. When we look at the music now, there was something missing it sounded good but something was not right. —  —  —  So we continued doing dances and watching videos, that’s the way we learned. I would constantly ask my family in Peru send me videos, we need more vides. We were addicted to videos. Me and my brother would watch videos of concerts and then go down to the basement and practice what we were watching. —  So about in 1993, we decided that we had to go to New York. At that time, our band was finally asked to play at Rio Rio the first place with live latin music. We were the first to be there. At that time we were called Vancouver Latin Connection. Previous to that we were called ‘La Unica’. That was the first name for our salsa orchestra. So we were playing at Rio Rio, and it was becoming very successful. It got to a point where we were playing 5 nights a week we were full time musicians! I also started going to recording school to become an audio engineer at Columbia Academy. —  —  Did you notice at that time that the audiences were changing? Yes, when we started the audiences were 80/20 latino to Canadian. Then as we became more popular, it moved to about 60/40, then by about 1993 it. Why do you think this changed? The travel industry. At that time the industry began to seriously promote travel to Mexico tequila, corona etc. Because of that wave of promoting mexico though it wasn’t the same music people began to be attracted to the latino music and culture.  —  —  —  Salsa became popular around that time. Dance teachers like Nestor started up and began promoting their classes to Canadians. That’s when Jose Luis Vargas Peruvian actor started teaching. Nestor was his student and then himself started giving classes at Rio Rio. Then there was this chubby Cuban guy from Carisias Cubana these were the first to bring the salsa dance to the mixed Canadian culture. That’s when people started recognizing this as salsa (as opposed to some other generic tropical music) and we playing and promoting salsa music through the DJs etc. —  —  —  —  At this point other band started to appear wanting to capitalize on this new market. We got Orquesta Maya (1994), Tropicana, and the scene was expanding. Maya separated when Julio and the singer split then BC Salsa started. Competition started as other —  73 bands started their own parties but they all wanted to play at Rio Rio because it was successful a steady gig. But we were there. —  —  Then me and Martin started playing with Rumba Calzada with Boying Geronimo. Then we started our own band Los Hermanos Romero The Romero brothers We were playing a lot and learning a lot with Boying (a mentor) —  -.  Where did Boying learn? He learned with Poncho Sanchez. He was influenced by the hard core salsa like Tito Puente, Joe Cuba, Cal Tjader. We would go to his place in Richmond and he would put us on to all these guys listen to this listen to that and then Poncho came to town and do a concert at the commodore and then stay at his house. After that we would go and jam with him at his place and jam until late. We learned a lot. —  —  Poncho himself was influenced by others he would say Manny Orquendo was his favorite band that was his school. With Andy Gonzales, Jimmy Bosch etc. This is in addition to Hector Lavoe and Ruben Blades this was hard core salsa. So we started learning about the arrangers like Jose Mareda the arranger for Tito Puente, and Bobby Cruz and Ritchie Ray. In Peru I knew all the big singers but now I was listening to the New York guys. Poncho would say that all the stuff that we are doing in LA is influenced by New York salsa and Puerto Rico. And of course this all stems from Cuba that’s where musicians back then would be brought to New York to play guys like Chano Poza and influenced the music in NY. Then it was Candido Camera and then Patato Valdes. So all these musicians where exposed to the Cuban music. Puerto Ricans were able to draw upon this flavor/sabor of the Cuban music and just copy them then develop their own sound. —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  Then they started breaking this music apart and understanding the dave 2-3 or 3-2 dave.  —  how to play in  With Boying we were talking about dave without knowing about dave. Then around 1994 Martin moved to New York and studied at the Boys Harbor... Because there was a hunger, a need, to really understand this music. The only way was to step beyond and go to the source. I stayed here with the band and he would give me lessons by phone. I would record all the taught me by phone the conga patterns, timbales patterns, campana, how they all relate to the dave. And we would practice practice practice! —  After a while I missed my brother, I told him to come back and start applying it to the scene here. He wanted to stay but I kind of interrupted that so we could keep the band. At the time he was going to school with the piano player from Mark Anthony and studying with all the great percussionists. In the basement they would jam with Tito Puentes band the students would just watch and learn. He didn’t want to come back, but the opportunities here were growing and we had to go with it. —  Then Mesa Luna opened. It was a greek place and we go in there in 1995 with DJ Jorgito B and started playing there. And that became the new place for latin music. Now the scene had changed the Canadians audience was now 40/60 to latinos. The music was now popular to the mainstream. People were taking more lessons and listening to the music. There was a big demand for it. —  74  With this demand came a bad era of interband conflict. Bands wanted to play there and so they started fighting, undercutting each other, it became a jungle. Even though each band brings a different crowd. BC Salsa brought a more latino crowd that wanted to hear cumbias our audience wanted to hear salsa. Their audience was a lower class wearing runners, hats shady types etc. The scene was splitting. —  —  Then Ran one of the dancers started making his own parties and taking away the crowd. Not with bands but with DJs. He built up a big database and started taking the crowd away from the club. Then the DJs came and began offering a much cheaper product of prepackaged music. There was conflict in a lot of areas at this time at the club. —  —  So by then I was playing in different bands with Rumba Calzada etc. And the scene had spread out into a lot of smaller venues. Georgia Hotel, Latin Quarter etc. Then other clubs wild coyote, purple onion etc wanted to put on latin nights so the bands would do the circuit of clubs but nothing really steady. We also would play the summer festivals jazz fest, sea fest, childrens fest, dragon boat festival here and in the suburbs. The exposure was huge up to Whistler. —  —  —  —  —  Lets talk about playing with the different musicians and the diversity of the scene. We would always have trouble finding the horn players! Sometimes we would wish that we could just have some latino horn players who wanted to be there... (that would share the same dedication and commitment to the music and a band like the singers and percussionists do) —  and not always have the attitude of “I cannot make the rehearsal, this and that”.... There is always a frustration with horn players and piano players (almost always non latinos), because they are not many. On bass, Al was the only one with Fito and he wanted to be there. Now, there still is some frustration, not as much (because there are more of them around now). Not many people have the chops to do the job, but mainly it is the desire to be there to actually want to play this music not because there is no where else to play. Some people just wanted to be there for the cash, not the music. —  —  —  But, bit by bit, through Al (Johnston), through John (Korsrud), Brian (Harding) more horn players began taking an interest and getting involved and wanting to know why the music sounds the way it does. And then you start learning about the dave, the rhythms, listening to CDs, DVDs. And that is how we started learning it at the beginning too! By watching, listening, studying, practicing. And when these musicians start playing and seeing people dancing and enjoying the music, then it catches you and you want to play it more and more. And then withing the horn players, they start spreading the word about the music and then others get interested. Are there certain things that you find with new (horn) players, things you have to tell them to get them started feeling the music?  75 E: Yes, our foundation to our music is the pulse, it’s the one and three rather than the 2 and 4 (like most commercial/jazz musicians are taught to feel). That’s the foundation to our house! The next foundation is the dave Begin able to play the dave in one hand and hit the pulse on the other is the first step you don’t have to be on your instrument So we tell them to do this so they start internalizing the music. —  —  —  —  This concept of the rhythms is so important to pass on to the musicians so that they can understand the underlying foundation to the music. Even the singers whom are latinos some have a problem coming in on time (because they don’t understand the dave). —  —  Salsa (the concept of the dave) is not just for Canadian or latinos to understand- this is for everybody! (its not something that all latinos can feel or understand they too have to learn it). When I went to New York to study, after Martin had gone I still had much to learn. I had to work on staying in the tempo of the 1 and 3? —  —  This rhythm is a challenge for both Canadians and Latinos. (even) here we have some problems with singers who are not coming in at the right time/beat/part of the dave. In order to produce the right feel you have to know where the dave is and where to put the beats in accordance to dave. And the only way to do this is knowing where the dave is at all times you can’t just keep the 1,2,3,4 pulse. Knowing where is the 2-3 or 3-2. —  —  This comes from practicing, listening, watching..! Some latino singers make the effort to learn this and other s don’t and they continue to make the same mistakes 20 years later. Same as the horn players too! If you don’t understand the rhythm what you play just comes out as ‘flat’. (cruzao) —  What is happening today in the salsa scene? I appreciate it a lot. I admire how the scene and the dancing is still holding and growing through the dance but not through the music. The internet is a weapon against the musicians. Without people buying records the only way for bands to survive is by going on the road, touring, playing live. Only a few musicians in the scene can survive without traveling studio work, arranging, etc. But for the majority you have to travel, be on the road etc. And that can be stressful! In order to compete financially it is even harder than before... .it was hard before but it is even harder now, so if someone is doing it, it is for the love of the music. People aren’t selling music anymore, all you can do is get your music played on the radio for free and do the festival circuit. Look at SHO, look who is playing, they are all top notch but they have no choice but to tour musicians of the highest caliber who have to tour... —  —  Back in Vancouver, it continues because of the love of the music. It is great to see the young musicians playing this music because we have to continue this tradition but until when...? There are a lot of politics in the scene, and I have been dealing with it for 18 years with musicians, club owners etc. A lot of work for no money! I don’t do it for the money but for the love of it. —  —  76 2) Raphael Geronimo (May  th 7  2007)  DOB: Oct 1, 1968 (Macati, Philippines) Occupation: Musician Let’s begin here: talk a bit about your first experiences, if you have any recollections of your very first experiences with Latin music, or Latin pop and it you could elaborate on some of your initial feelings My first experience playing music was... starting out playing in a rock band in high school. We played a lot of Rolling Stones and Jimmy Hendrix covers and then my father being a professional musician, and playing all his life, I was exposed to Latin Jazz since I was born pretty much but I never liked it, I always rebelled against my parents. And then when I was 17, my dad took me to a Santana concert in Vancouver, because you know it’s Santana and he bridged the rock and the Latin and I then I started appreciating Latin,... and eventually that Santana led to Poncho Sanchez, Eddie Palmeri and Tito, and then I started liking just Latin Jazz and salsa. So that was my bridge there. When you first heard Santana stuff what was your area, I guess if your father had influenced you, you already had an understanding of some of the Latin elements of music. Did you have an understanding of the music or was it just an interest? It was mostly a great appreciation for listening to music. Playing it, no, I couldn’t play a lot of the stuff yet; I was really just playing rock... But I didn’t know the dave patterns yet, I wasn’t really familiar with that.... I was just exposed to tons of Latin jazz, from since I was really young, so just listening to the music all through my weekends and special Christmas parties. My dad would have parties; my dad would always bring over bands, like after an Eddie Palmeri concert or Poncho. They’d hang out at the house and they would play. And one time when I was doing a math test, I lived across from my school,... you could hear a pin drop and I remembered my dad telling me “yeah, Poncho and them are coming over”, and during that math test I could hear them playing timbales. Yeah I thought.. .that was day I thought boom I’m going to become a musician. So when did you move to Vancouver? 74. 74. And your father. .now, he was a professional percussionist? .  Yeah a professional percussionist. Started out as a dancer in the Philippines, in the 1960’s. He was a choreographer in a dance show and then he started playing conga  during the time, playing Latin jazz in the Philippines. And then in 74, we moved to Vancouver, Canada, because of complications with Marcos and the government there.... Some kind of corruption going on and being a little unstable... I think that’s what my mom told me, that’s why they left. There wasn’t a really good future, looking a little iffy at the time. And your father what was his name? Boying.  77 Boying, and so he arrived here and became involved with the music scene here as a percussionist?  Yeah, he started working as a studio salesman as his first job, and then eventually, after years of that, on the weekends, besides work, he started percussion, playing with so many different groups, traveling across Canada, playing with Sal Ferreras and all these world music kind of groups, and stuff like that and African Heritage was another big group, with dido? And ?? And he was a part of that as well. He circulated around and did a lot of things in Banif, Vancouver, Montreal, or wherever, he was kind of on the side of music, on the side of his day job. And then eventually he became full time?  Yeah, he was a full time musician towards the end of his career. He past away in 95. So during that year, eventually he became a full time musician and sort of wasn’t really doing his day job towards the end. Very little or none. Great. Lets skip ahead here just some time, and talk about your current position in Vancouver and your current involvement in the music scene.  I guess I just play, I play as a percussionist in different groups. Rumba Caizada is my group, so I take charge in that. I sub in for Soulstream, Oscar Lopez, I’m a percussionist for Oscar Lopez from Calgary. I sub in for lots of different world music, jazz, funk, I also play drumset, so some funk groups and stuff like that. And you have your own band?  I have my own band. How long has that been going on for?  That’s been going on since 91 but I’ve taken charge of it in 95. And this is Rumba Caizada?  Yes, this is Rumba Calzada. So youre on your third cd now?  Yes, but this will be the band’s fourth cd. Oh, fourth cd.  My father did the band’s first cd and I’ve done two and I’m going to release a third one hopefully this June 07. So it was your father who started this band?  Yeah in 1991. Fantastic. And what was the instrumentation? The same kind of thing back then?  78  Oh it was really small. It was five: percussion, congas, timbales, bass, piano and horn. So it was a five or six piece group... And it just kind of grew a little bit with our turn ever since. And the repertoire you guys have been playing? Oh, the repertoire there was Latin Jazz and a little bit of salsa. And it was covers and a couple of originals.  So, let’s talk about some of your more personal emotional responses. Is there something about the music of Latin Jazz that you are performing.... that you are captivated by, or is it something just happened professionally that you have become involved with? I just love how the rhythms work within each other. And I just, I guess maybe it was a point in my life when I was a teenager, not wanting to do what my dad did. And then eventually, something came in me that I just started loving this music. I don’t know what it is, I just, maybe it’s my destiny or something to just continue on with the band. It hit me when I was about six/seventeen, I just started loving Eddie Palmeri and Arto??? And how it all fit together, and started not just appreciating it, but actually started loving it. Loving how it sounded.  And I’m sure learning and training in i1, you developed more appreciation. After loving it, then I started training in it. I said, “Oh, I’ve got to learn this. I love it. It sounds great. Why did I hate it before? I don’t know why I hated it. Maybe it was because my dad did it all my life.” And I didn’t want to.., you know how kids are. I didn’t want to do what he did. So when I just got older and started appreciating it, I’m like “Yeah, show me this, let’s do it.” And he didn’t show me everything at once. He said, “Here’s one timbale pattern.” (starts drumming) For a year. “I don’t want to show you anything else. That’s your training for a year.” And ok, after the year, “I’ll show you another little trick.” It was really slow.  Lets elaborate on that training though. So you were obviously influenced by your father’s training. Are there other institutions that you went to? So when I was seventeen/eighteen my father noticed that I was serious, that I really liked it, and I enjoyed it lots, so he said, “Ok, let’s take your training further. Let’s go to Cuba and let’s study with some of the Cubans.” So we did. We took a drumming program for the Folklore International??? Which is an International school, it takes international students. It trains them in drumming and dancing. It was only a two/three week course in Cuba. So we went and did it, and then came back home and learned a  lot. Bought some drums. And then a couple years later he was like “Oh, so do you want to still continue.” “Yeah, let’s learn from the guys in New York.” So we went to Boy’s?? Harbor Performing Arts Centre, which was recommended to my dad from Martin and Edgar from La Clave. So we went and studied there. We both went to New York. He only went for a few weeks, I went for a little longer and we studied from Jimmy ??? who is a percussionist from Eddie Palmeri. Guys like that. And then in Cuba we actually studied from Changito??. Yeah, we took lessons, private lessons, aside from the school from Changito?? He’s really cool. Strict. Very, very strict but funny.  79 So talking about the scene back then, this was maybe 15 years ago, was it? Maybe you can just talk about the scene back then, and your impression of it What was going on then; bands, music, audiences?  Back then, my dad was playing with Sal Ferreras and stuff like that. Even before that when I was a really little kid they had a band called Ubileo, with Al Jonson, Lou Mastriani??, Fernando San Juan who moved to Pew, Boying Geronimo, my dad, and they had this salsa band and they were performing in little restaurants and stuff but after that Sal Ferreras, African Heritage, they’d do these big concerts at the Commodore. And they were the salsa band in the 90’s. Nobody knew what this kind of music was, and everyone just loved it. African mixed with Latin and salsa. So, they had this whole world music thing going on. It was big. And then after that, my dad started forming Rumba Calzada in 91, we just did local jazz festival gigs, smaller gigs and then the band started to get established and then we went to the Philippines for a big tour, for one month. And unfortunately, during that tour, my dad passed away. He had a heart attack right on stage. During a filming of a dance documentary, where they were filming him dancing and I was directing the band playing. So that’s what happened. So that was a super big hit to me. So we ended up taking a week off and then finishing the tour. And everything went fine..., well it was hard, but it was a crazy fun tour. Came back and there was Casio Jazz Festival, the Vancouver, well at the time it was the Du Maurier Jazz Festival and five or six festivals that the band had already been scheduled. They phoned and said “Are you still doing it?” and I said, “Yeah, we’re going to finish it.” Finished it, a couple months later we finished all the tours and it went well. So we took about another month or two off and then I got a call from this club called the Chameleon, which was under the hotel ??? And they said, “We’re doing a dj, world music, hip hop, kind of live band thing. Do you want to do Monday nights?” I said “Sure.” Started off as a four-piece band, you know, a fifty buck a night kind of gig and after about a month, the place was so packed that everything went up, the fee, everything, and it was really good. It lasted for three and a half years. So it was something that started really small and it got to be a really busy night in town. Where everybody went to. And what time period was this?  This was 96, and then the Purple Onion after that, Wednesday nights, for a year and a half. So we had Mondays and Wednesdays, and it established Rumba Calzada, people wanted to go to it. People heard the name and “Yeah, ok, these guys are fun. Let’s go.” So it kind of established us as a fun Latin dance band in Vancouver at the time. Now were there similar bands working in the same way? Or was this something new?  It was something a little bit newer because it was in a newer kind of club. They had Mesa Luna and they had Tropicana and BC Salsa playing at all their venues and they were attracting audiences too. We were attracting sort of more of a Canadian audience because it was promoted with these hip-hop guys. And people really liked hip-hop and dj stuff at the time so it was sort of Latin jazz blended into it. And that’s how we caught along. It was pretty cool. At the time were there some certain players that were big? You were talking about your father and your father’s band, and you mentioned Tropicana and BC Salsa were around. Were there other people or names that were a part of this new scene that were helping bring this about?  80  Well La Clave was playing quite a bit so, Martin Ramero and Edgar Ramero, and of course BC Salsa and Tropicana those guys were the other salsa bands in the community and they were working, constantly working. And I remember before Rumba Calzada, I started off playing actually with Tropicana, it wasn’t called Tropicana it was Latina? At the time and then Tropicana and I eventually left and played called Sensa for BC Salsa for four years and during that four years, that’s when my dad formed Rumba Calzada. So during that time, around 91, I’m just going back a little bit, I kind of left BC Salsa in 94/95 to do Rumba Calzada. But yeah, those are the bands that were working. Vaillarta? was another band that was working at the time. ...  Olç let’s talk about the audience, or about the scene itself It sounded like there was a big boom there in the mid 90’s for Latin Saisa music. Can you talk about thal, about how the scene was there before hand and what made this boom? Were there some reasons, some factors involved?  I think that it was because at the time too, Ricky Martin was quite popular. So a lot of people knew about him, and the mainstream acts would reflect on the underground music. People would see Santana making it big and they’d start to like Latin music and stuff like that. A lot of people started doing salsa dancing as a hobby, so then that sort of transformed into “Oh, this music is great, let’s go out and listen to it. Let’s go out and dance to it.” And I feel that bands keep continuously playing, we have constant, continuous gigs because people would come and just listen and the next thing you know, they would want to start dancing. The dance and the music kind of work together to get people interested in it. Factors like mainstream acts doing Latin music, Santana, Ricky Martin and all those bands that were popular back then in the 90’s kind of reflected on mainstream people looking for something different. Looking for something new, something different than the pop thing, something more traditional. And a lot of these underground hip hop artists, dj stuff, we were sort of doing, side by side, these gigs with them at the Chameleon. It was popular so that attracted a whole younger audience, maybe more Caucasian audience, rather than just pure Latino ones, which were the audiences that BC Salsa and Tropicana were catering to; it was more of a Latino crowd. We were sort of doing this any group, open kind of thing. It was interesting. And looking now at this past decade, from that heyday to now, can you reflect on what’s happening today, looking back? I think that what’s happening today, what I’m noticing a lot, is that a lot of people are really into Salsa dancing, taking tons of lessons. I was just at the bank and they asked me ‘Well, what business do you do?” and I said, “Oh, just music. It’s Latin music.” “Oh! I love salsa dancing!” The fact that a lot of people are taking salsa dancing is really giving us musicians, giving us bands, more support. Because people like the dancing, they like the music. Also, doing big festivals like the Jazz Festival and stuff; you get a stage, an open stage, and you get a big audience that comes and sees you and they’re like “Oh, who’s that band?” That’s another way to make a good impact and get yourself known, doing festivals and doing small venues and small seat theatres too. You start doing those and eventually they buy your cd’s and that’s another way of getting out there. But what I’m noticing most, a lot now, is the dancing.  81 Do you see a relation between the more mainstream popularity in the 90’s to now. Has there been a change in the audiences 2 From my perspective it sounds like there were a lot more venues to play in, a more active scene back then than there is now but I have a limited perspective. I think that there was quite a bit of activity back then, as where to play. Are things different now? Or is it more of a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of thing? Well for me I sort of stopped looking for that house gig because I found it really hard to maintain and a lot of work. And I want to do concerts, I still want to play lots and do these gigs, but maybe not on a weekly basis because they kind of drained and tired me out. So maybe on a monthly or bimonthly basis I’ll do those sorts of things. So I’ve been looking and the gigs are still there, but coming through festivals and corporate events. So the gigs are still there, I’m just not hunting as hard as I used to for these gigs. But there are bands like La Candela which performs at the Café Deux Soleils, and they pack it in. So the scene is still alive? It’s still alive; it’s just finding where to go. Because these places aren’t really mainstream, you have to kind of look for this music around town. It’s not really promoted right up front, like the GM Place concerts. So do you think that it has gone from creeping towards mainstream in the 90’s to now a bit back to the underground, to the roots? Would you say that? I don’t know if I would say that. I think maybe the mainstream people of the 90’s helped it more, helped people get interested. It’s always been there, but just sort of helped the music in general, with exposure. And I think it’s still like that, I think that it’s still there and I think it’s catching on more around the world. People want something different to listen to. They’re always telling me “Do we have to listen to this radio stuff again?” and they want to know what else is out there. People are looking for stuff, maybe not just hip hop music. Olç now maybe looking into the future, how do you see the scene changing and developing, as the city of Vancouver grows more and more?  I really think that this music will get more popular. I think that it will grow. I think that it’s growing in other parts of the world. When I hear from my friends coming back from Japan, it’s huge in Japan. Coming back from Europe, there are clubs in Italy and France and everywhere. In the Philippines now, when we played there it was just starting up, there were a few other bands playing, but now there is a whole strip of four salsa clubs, four bands playing in the same area. I’m hearing this from friends who have just come from the Philippines and they say, “You should go back and play. You’d probably work a lot more; there is more going on.” So I’m just hearing that there is more salsa music being played, more Latin Jazz more stuff being played around the world. And I think it’ll just get better. I’m hoping it does.  82 Let’s hope. 0k well let’s shift into talking about specifically the large bands; large ensemble stuff And maybe talk about your experiences working with these large ensembles. You’ve mentioned BC Saisa and Tropicana, and maybe what got you involved with them and your experiences with these groups.  I guess, going back a bit, I was looking for a band to play with before Rumba Caizada was formed, so I started, after getting training from my dad, I was looking for then, bands to play in. Then he brought over some friends from La Clave and “Oh, my friend is looking for a drummer, to play in Tropicana. So eventually I got leaded towards Tropicana, that’s how I started. But playing in those bands was a really good start for me, because it established. They taught me how to play Cumbias, for example, I didn’t know that Cumbian rhythms. I learned how to play Cumbias from Chucky, Carlos Martinez and Julio Carlito. It was my first big band experience and working with a 10/12 piece band, getting to know everybody listening to all the sounds, respecting all the sounds, not to overplay, because these are big bands, you’ve really got to watch your musicianship, you can’t shine too much because it will just be mud. You’ve just got to play your part and then go for it. So that was another thing I learnt playing with thee big bands. Those bands are important because they’ve been around for so many years and a lot of players have filtered through those bands, eventually to do new and other projects and that’s what I did. I kind of started out with Tropicana and BC Salsa and eventually I ran Rumba Calzada, which is my main thing. I respect those bands a lot and I respect what I’ve learnt from them and being in them. Let’s maybe elaborate on that stuff Talk aboul, obviously you were saying that you started... different styles... how that changed/opened things up...  As I said, learning Cumbia, I didn’t know how to do that Cumbia rhythm before, and when I learnt it. I first heard it in Tropicana and then really in BC Salsa more, and Julio played the traditional floreton?? Cumbia with the ping and I was like “Wow! This is great stuff!” So learning the Cumbia and learning other rhythms too. I just kind of left it for a while, after I started doing Rumba Calzada and now I appreciate it because I’ve actually written some Cumbia’s now, written some Cumbia music, so it’s affected me in the long run. I just appreciate it so much more. And then eventually playing in the bands, in these sort of dance bands, I was looking for something more challenging in the end. So I guess my love for the music went towards more Latin/Jazz. Something a little more creative-wise as a musician, able to express a little bit more. In these bands, being the big bands they were, maybe didn’t allow that expressive freedom as much, but being in Rumba Calzada, which is little smaller, I was allowed to maybe express myself more, through the music more, but this was a great experience to channel it. A stepping-stone into my own thing. So that’s basically what I liked/I learned a lot about, being in these big bands. Just sort of the different rhythms, and just establishing myself playing with people that were at my level, and enjoying that and learning from that, from all this listening to the big band setting. Now how do your band’s influence? Function in the city?  They provide a lot of work for the scene here because these guys are diehards, they don’t stop, they love their music, they love what they’re doing. They’ll put their band together and then if they got a gig they’ll just go for it, they’ll hire whoever they can, whoever’s up for the job at the time. BC Salsa’s been around for 20 years, I think, maybe, and they just, back then John Korsrud used to play in BC Salsa and all these  83 other artists used to play that are now sort of playing in their different ensembles and doing their own thing. So they filter in a lot of musicians who just love the music. It’s a good thing that they’re here, it’s a good thing that they’re doing, because they provide a lot of work and experience for people who are starting out and wanting to pursue this field in Latin Music. They’re there and they’ve always been there and they’re still going. Especially those two main ones, BC Salsa and Tropicana. Well how do you think they affect the audience? What do you think the audience’s perception of these bands is? I always think of these bands as unique ensembles.... Helped shape? As an audience member, I think, first of all, they get/they go “What’s this kind of music?” If they haven’t heard it before and they look at the band and go “Oh, they’re all from El Salvador or something like that, so that also creates an interest. I think as an audience member, people are like “Wow! They’re so big!”.... If we’re talking about BC Salsa, Tropicana and La Clave, the impact of the band is ‘Wow! That’s a big band. That’s a big sound. That’s captivating music. It’s sexy rhythms” That there intoxicates a lot of people, a lot of women love it too. Learning experiences in bands? Basically, I kind of knew the basic of the rhythm before I was there, and then when I was in the band they kind of fine-tuned it. “I want it played this way.” It’s the same rhythm, just altered maybe a little bit or “this fast. I like my cha cha’s this fast. I like my mambo played like this. When you do the salsa pattern during the coro, use a low drum, or maybe, don’t make too many solos on here.” So every band is a little bit different, slightly different. So on the job traThing? Exactly, and it just altered band to band. How I wanted it to be played. There were pretty basic rule, basic salsa rules about percussion and they followed the same in BC Salsa, Tropicana. And if you listen to the music they’re a little bit similar, but maybe now Tropicana plays more Merengue and BC Salsa plays more salsa. So I also had to learn Merengue patterns and how to incorporate that with Chucky’s band back then. More experienced musicians would teach you? Yes, for example, the Cumbia. I didn’t know how to do it properly, so Julio would show me how to do it on the thing and the same with Carlos Martinez, how to do it on the timbales. But basic, basic things. Do other instruments too? I think it was really basic. Just the basic pattern, specifically what they want. So Cumbia’s “I want them like this, I don’t want anything fancy, just follow the basic pattern. I would tend to do things a little more crazy, do a little more, but they didn’t want that. They wanted the straight basic pattern. Other instruments?  84 Some, I guess. Everybody brought their own flavour to the group. That’s nice, but I think Julio and some of the band members, they wanted it specifically straight up, by the chart, not altering too much, because they had this specific style in mind. Multicultural? I guess they would take the musicians who already knew the basics and if they knew how to play, that was good enough for them and then they would hone it into one of their songs. “You can read this chart? Ok. That’s what we want, we want it just like that.” The musicians had experience already. Some basic experience that they knew and they just had to want to play and that’s what these guys wanted. Where did they get the experience from? Just from having an interest towards the music (who were some of the players?) Some of the players were from El Salvador and stuff, the musicians playing in the bands already, so when they migrated to the country, they were looking for more opportunities to play and these bands were here and helping them to play some more. I think, a lot of them, I noticed, were musicians already or students studying music and wanting something more or a little different or another challenge or a gig to play. Financial reasons... they enjoyed the gig and they wanted to play. Some people were really dead set into it and some people were just in and out, for the money, or just subbing in or in there for a short period of time or they did a lot of work and then maybe they had enough and they left. All different reasons for playing in the group. Insights? Challenges? I think, if they don’t want to, just their own personal drive, the bandleader’s personal drive, whether to continue or not because some of them, they just die out. They’ll lose a gig and then fold the band for now or something, but eventually, sometimes, if they don’t want that they’ll go through a dry sell for a few months or so and then come back again. I think it’s really personal drive from the bandleaders that will continue this scene. You know.. “I want to continue BC Salsa!” or whoever the bandleader is, Tropicana or whoever. Yes, these certain individuals that really want to carry through. If they want to play they’ll just continue to find places to play and people o work with, music to play. I think it’s all the individual... Will and it’s obviously for the love of the music, it wouldn’t be for the money or something like that. They just love the music. You can tell, like Julio, he really loves playing the music and Carlos Martinez too. They love playing the music and whoever’s in there, it’s their own will that will keep these bands going.  85 3) Alan Johnston (November 20 2004) DOB: Jan 9, 1959 (Vancouver, BC) Occupation: Works with the Mentally Handicapped, Musician We are going to start with some questions about your first experiences with latin/salsa music. Can you tell me of your first impressions hearing and playing with latin bands? Well, just my first experiences with music I grew up with a family of brothers and sisters who bought lots of (music), all the beatles and stuff like that, and that was my first experiences with music. And also my mother who had earlier albums.... But my first experiences with latin music was the very first album I bought when I was 11 years old and that was Santana Abraxis. My brother in law, he had this cougar and we drove across the country and had an 8-track of Santana Abraxis and that just addicted me. I was just starting bass at the time and the very first thing I learned was Oye Como Va by Tito Puente. My experiences on that album were so deep that I grasped a lot of the things I could play immediately like black magic woman there was so much to listen to. I mean some of it went over my head but listening to it now 30-35 years later, its stuff that went over my head is so deep. Every feel that I’ve played in the 30 years since if one that album Merengue, Cumbia. .1 don’t think there is cumbia but all the types of afro-cuban music, and then there was Tito Puente. I bought another 2 or 3 Santana albums, but everything else was either Zappa or progressive rock, Black Sabbath, some early heavy sort of stuff. —  —  —  .  .  So this first introduction opened things up for you. Well yeah. Because I was a musician at the same time wasn’t just a listener and also because I was learning, with my best friend he was a guitar player and we were always copying things off the albums right from the beginning. You end up going wth your ear, and your ear constantly leads your intellect and visa versa. You end up going along with lines that are interesting to play and everything you listen to is and opportunity to open doors to something else. —  —  —  When you first heard that album, what were some of the elements you were drawn to? Yeah.. .life, really. You hear the beginning of “Oye Como Va.” Just the “dun, dun, dun, dun... sabor!” It just hits you right there, no matter who you are you nod your head to it, I mean it immediately catches you. No one knows at 11 years old you are listening to a cha cha, but everything on the album was creative from a heart standpoint and then you have guitar too, and who [didn’t] love guitar in the 70s, I certainly did. It wasn’t pretentious at all, it was a bunch of guys.... I have always been attracted to the ‘foreign thing,’ as a family we used to always open up an encyclopedia and look up... .always attracted to the ‘exotic.’ That’s one of the reasons why I ended up buying Santana at 11 years old, and learning how to play shortly there after. Jumping ahead to the cuffent, can you describe your present position in the music scene and your activities at this point?  86 Well, I am kind of entrenched right on the boundaries between latin and jazz, and I think I have been ever since I was a jazz player who got back into latin music. I had forgotten about latin music, I was a jazz musician all through the 80s, and then I got back into latin music I got reacquainted, reinvolved in it but still had my jazz sensibilities. So where that leaves me today, after I left the cruise ship thing which I was doing for a while, was just using all my South American experiences I picked up while I was away, but going towards the jazzier elements of the music. So where that leaves me today as far as a player goes, is one of the guys in town who is a jazz musician into latin music but I think I am the only jazz guy in town SERIOUSLY into latin music. So that’s my placement on the scene as a bass player, people associate me with latin music. Jazz musicians certainly do but then again, latin musicians probably associate me with the more jazz side of the spectrum. It’s hard to say where I am from MY standpoint. —  —  There are also some key projects that you are involved in. Yeah, the main project that I am involved in right now is Zapato Negro, which is kind of an off shoot of experiences with people I met when I was in Cuba for the first time, mainly with the drummer, Gilberto Moreax. I met him in Cuba, and up here I met Andre Carascara and we decided to put a trio together to get some work and to play some latin jazz, and we did that for quite a while, then we added a conga player, Ivan Soto, then we picked up Miguelito Valdes. And actually Ivan Soto was somebody I met when I went to Cuba, he was a friend of Gilberto’s. And so that is my main project right now. I also play in Rumba Calzada, and I also have the band Grupo Jazz Tumbao, which is basically defunct from a live performance stand point, because everybody is everywhere but I still sell CDs, about 5-10 a year to Austria, Italy, Puerto Rico. —  How do the bands differ? Rumba Calzada is a little more on the commercial side because we mine the more mambo kind of things with solos. And also because there are vibes, and that kind of sexes things up, more in that tradition. Grupo Jazz Tumbao was kind of a mix of more freer jazz the jazzier side of latin jazz, jazz con dave you could put it plus, a little more of a commercial thing. Zapato Negro has more of a piano trio plus horns plus congas thing... it’s hard to describe what we do. It’s the most progressive of all from a rhythmic standpoint. Again, I am the guy inside it but you have heard it so for me there is an extremely high level of communication going on and that is extremely fulfilling to me from a musical standpoint. When you play with your friends, its great, there is almost nothing greater than that. When you are playing with guys that raise your game, who are also your friends, that is just a little better. And that is how it feels like playing with Gilberto. And I know that I bring a lot of things to his playing too. For now we seems to play well together and bring things to each other. That’s enjoyable. And of course I get other things playing with Rafi (Rafael Geronimo) because he is a different player all together. That’s the thing playing one of my joys in this town si that I get to express myself in different Afro-Cuban jazz levels in different contexts. There no gig I do where I go that wasn’t enjoyable’ because there are always players who are good players and there are excellent players, and I didn’t mean to put I just put my band at a slightly higher level because they grew up with the music. But everybody brings something completely different in their bands. —  Can you talk about your perception of the local latin- salsa scene?  -  87 Well, I am not too encouraged by what is going on. There are still a couple of good bands that I have played with and I enjoy playing with. There is your band (tanga) that should be playing more. I played with Tropicana recently and they are a great commercial band, the crowd loves them. They are about 40 percent salsa right now am going to be salsa bias right now because everybody knows I am that is my latin music of choice. Merengue is a fun thing but I think that anything that isn’t salsa is at the expense of salsa there is only room for so much. And then there is Reggaeton, which scares the heck out of me because it is not even live musicians. At least with Merengue, while it is not my live music of choice, you can still see all the musicians up there. Reggaeton, it’s just dumming down. And then there is BC Salsa, I played with them recently, they are a fun band, they have been around forever, they have a huge tradition and a loyal following. And, they kick ass s much as they ever did. I miss... La Clave, which was another band that I was associated with for a long time, which was known as Vancouver’s salsa orchestra. But luckily I do get that part of my brain massaged by Goma Dura, which is John Korsrud’s big band we play a lot of the La Clave charts but I also get to hear my own arrangements and my peers’ arrangements too, which is a real pleasure for me. —  -  —  —  How are the audiences for these bands? The audiences have been bad! This is why you have the live bands playing reggaeton and meringue because the salsa community has abandoned the live bands. The salsa community is largely doing DJ nights at a couple of cheap halls, with a couple DJs and the teachers are bringing all their students. To me, the tragedy is that from the beginning it was the dancers and the musicians who created it simultaneously, together. One is no good without the other. Now you have a bunch of people who were not born inside the culture and they are being detached from the music even. So they are detached from the culture and the music! They learn some nice moves but it is from a visual aesthetic rather than an aural aesthetic. That is the thing about the salsa scene. Because the community has basically abandoned the bands. Goma Dura isn’t working, La Clave isn’t working, (tanga) isn’t working. The bands that have a high percentage of Merengue and are willing to play reggaeton there will always be work. The thing I must say about those bands is that everything they play, they play with commitment. BC Salsa, they mean it when they play it. No one means meringue more than Carlos Martinez he is dead serious about it, in a joyful way. And that is why when I play those gigs I have a good time because it is all coming from a joyful place from real musicians. -  —  —  —  —  Let’s trace back a bit and look at the histoiy of this music up to this point. Can you talk about when you first began playing latin music, who the players, bands and audiences were. This is my history of the latin scene in Vancouver about 1979-80, I was at Cap college and a couple of new students formed a repertory group with me it was Jack Duncan and Lou Mastrianni, who I still play with today I played with Jack a few days ago, 33 or so years later. So, Lou and I played together and Jack and I played together, and none of us really new about latin music. Jack probably new the most probably because he had albums with congas in them. Then Lou and I got called to play in a band called Jubaleo that was a band formed by a Peruvian conga player named Fernando Solomon. His timbalero was Boying Geronimo. I played with them for two-three years, Lou played with them for 2-3 years. We did 2 or 3 gigs up in Banif. Hugh Fraser played with us, a few other people from Vegi played with us because they were up there are the time. But I still —  —  -  —  88 didn’t know much about Latin music I was faking through from a fusion stand point was a fretless bass student from Cap college who could groove pretty good, but I had no idea what a salsa groove was I was just kind of playing it. And Boying would always go “you are not playing something right” but he could never tell me what it was and after listening to the albums I realized that he was just telling me to play tumbao and I had no idea what it was. So then that band split up and I played with a few different more-fusion y outfits in town. And after that I got drafter to play on a the cruise ships into the caribbean which was a life-changing experience for me. I was in San Juan Porto Rico, I was buying CD5 and I was deep deep into the music, I was on a cruise ship with nothing to do except listen to music and play my bass to it... .listen to bass players and then go back to the record store and buy five other cds with a bass player who was mentioned on another cd. So I collected 3-4-5 hundred salsa cds. And that is where I got deep into the music. I did the cruise ship thing for about 5 or 6 years. I made enough money to buy a bass and put a down payment on an apartment, buy car, that kind of thing. To back track a little bit, when I was in Jubaleo there were no latinos in town. I mean, there were a few scattered people here and there. Statistically, there were no latinos in town. So I go out on this cruise ship throughout the eighties civil war in Guatemala, civil war in El Salvador, civil war in Chile, wherever come back, and there are working salsa bands. Working salsa bands all of them with musicians. —  —  —  —  —  —  These were latinos playing?  Yeah, this was BC Salsa and stuff like that. But I was really the only guy that new salsa even the latinos they were from central America and they new salsa a bit and they liked it but I was the only one who new Puerto Rican style of playing and I was also the only one who new jazz at all. When I got back in 91 it was still 5 years before any of the jazz players could give a shit about latin music so that is where I staked out my place in the scene, being the jazz player who could play latin music and visa versa. That is when I built my reputation. Since 91 with a few different bands, I played with Boying’s band before he passed away, played with La Clave and a few other things, and then formed Grupo Jazz Tumbao in 1997 with Brian Harding, and then Brian went to New York so that band went on hiatus and then came Zapato Negro. Plus, besides the latin bands I still do some freelance jazz work. —  -  —  —  Let’s move on to the big band’s themselves. Is there something special playing with these large salsa bands?  Well, there is nothing like playing with a big band. Nothing like playing salsa with real horns. Nothing like hearing the buzz of trombones, the wail of a lead trumpet. And even better putting little dots on a piece of paper that mean nothing and sound like crap on your computer, and then hearing trumpet players play them and look and you and smile. There is nothing like that man! I didn’t do much arranging work with the earlier bands but with Goma Dura I got to do some of that. That’s the thing about big bands and salsa music, and one of the reasons why I became so addicted to it because anywhere in the salsa world, if you go into a club and you don’t see more than ten musicians on stage, or more, you’re in trouble! Serious trouble. And also that the music cuts through generations I was very heartened to see that there were big bands making a go at it in town. And that there was a crowd to listen to them. And to cut to a future question about the educational experience (of performing in salsa bands) and about the people who have gone through there: It’s put a semi-hook in a lot of different musicians and it has dragged them around its turned their head around. —  —  —  —  89 There is a certain percentage of great musicians who have gone through (these bands), who really like latin music, who really like salsa, who love playing it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will ever buy a salsa CD or listen to it on the radio in their life or know anything really about the roots about the music or what makes it sound great, or what makes it work from a rhythmic standpoint that’s a certain percentage. And that’s cool, I mean, that’s a certain level of education that guys have got from them. I think its useful if they get that much from it because it is something that buzz their ears and maybe they will pass on the enthusiasm to someone else, or at least they won’t be talking bad about this certain music. I have played with a lot of great musicians who always talk about how fun it is to play salsa, but there is no passion to learn more about it. But then there are other people who have wanted to learn more about it such as yourself and that is one of the other roles for me because a lot of people have learned it from here I think it is important, especially if you are not from the culture, to do as much learning in all the different places, in all the different aspects and that is what I try to do, to impart a little bit of that to people who give a shit. If you don’t give a shit that’s fine it’s all fun, as long as you don’t step on the music, or step on my level of music. —  —  —  —  -  —  —  —  You would say then that these bands helped you become a better musician training they gave you.  —  the  Definitely. I would say playing in La Clave made me a better musician because in one aspect it reacquainted me with my vocal side. I was a teenage rock and roller singing rock and roll songs and playing my bass when I was fifteen but this got me back in to the whole singing and dancing, rocking out thing. And it also taught me not so much knowledge, but skills singing and dancing at the same time skills, reading skills. —  —  How about stylistic aspects? Stylistics stuff I already brought to it because most of it is charts not written from a bass percpective and most of them have slight imperfections. Where I would do my learning is if I listened to the album and just picked up little things, but most of the stuff I bring to the table I formed while I was on the ships, just listening and putting things in there. There are certain things I have developed since then but but it a EP white album el dia que me quieres all the bass lines on that was the first thing that I learned everything —  —  How about culturally? Were there things you picked up from working alongside latino musicians and visa versa? Of course! Well... .1 am not sure if the latino musicians learned anything about our music, from our musicians playing in the band but it was great to see the comradery between all the musicians. There was never any “gringo-whitey” thing. We are all musicians.. .there is a lot of love between musicians in this town. Very heartening. We are all in this together. I remember one of the funny stories where this really hit home. I was playing with rumba calzada many years ago during the play offs. We were playing a gig at the Bayshore Inn. The Canucks were playing, it must have been ‘94, and I am really sad because the game is on and we are playing. And I pull in and there is Oliver Santamaria sitting down there with this tiny little TV set in the back! We are all in this together.  90  Would you say you learned about latino culture while playing in these bands? Well yeah sure, I mean... .Spanish idioms more than anything else.. .1 think that the latinos here are so encultured to North America. I haven’t been in too many homes where it was anything like in Cuba or Puerto Rico. Even my most... Martin is an example of a real traditional family.. .traditional North American. Can you talk about your experiences traveling? You mentioned that you spent time away and had the opportunity to performing with people from other places and cultures. Absolutely. One of the chances I had to perform with musicians that were foreign was before I was a latin musician, it was during my very last year at Cap college and a bunch of us drove down to mexico and I had my bass with me for some stupid reason and we went to san Miguel d’Allende in central mexico and there was a jazz band playing, and we used to go down there every night and sit in. It was interesting because they were trying to play jazz, but none of them could really swing, except the piano player who was this American guy in is 50’s who was just a total drunk he was legendary in the town and he used to just play piano until he fell off the bench. But he was a real monster player, George Shearing-type block hand chords. It was a real interesting cultural experience playing with this degenerate old American telling all these Mexicans to fuck off because they couldn’t swing while they were basically idolizing the guy. I remember him saying that they (the Mexicans) were always trying be hip but their English wasn’t very good so for ‘take the coda’ they would say ‘go home’... so you would hear all of a sudden ‘go home’!! —  —  —  —  —  How about in Cuba or Puerto Rico, did you ever have a chance to play with local musicians there? I uh  took a lesson and played, but I never went and sat in with anybody.  Is that something that occurs? Well, everything is so rehearsed right. Nothing is like a jam session. And the jazz down there is so technical that nothing is a real loose blowing session. Plus you know.... Most of the stuff I went to when I was in Cuba is the hard core Timba like taking Pedro Pablo’s place He’s my hero.  —  and I didn’t feel  Going back to the big bands, what do you see as their position and impact on the local scene? Their impact is very understated, very understated. I think the impact of a big band makes an impact in a number of ways there is an impact on the people that hear it because it just doesn’t like a record, also people seeing musicians performing, real musicians, inspires something. And latin bands in particular is a dying thing and it’s a real shame, that’s the way it is going. —  —  So these are obviously beneficial groups for the musicians themselves. We talked a bit about how they have had so many musicians pass through them.  91 It’s a real learning experience for horn players for one thing, because horn players are brought up in the (jazz) big band. There the style is to sit back on things everyone learns from the Basie Band man, you almost play on the beat behind and it swings so hard. Latin music doesn’t swing if you sit on it, you gotta nail it right on the top of things. That is something that even the best musicians have had to deal with because they have got so good at playing big band music but not latin big band music. —  —  —  So how do these people learn in these bands? Is it from the ears  —  like listen to this.. .or?  Well, sometimes you have to point it out. The thing is... .the more you learn about dave, the more you hear how something sounds good or it doesn’t. And it’s not just where the note is but where it cuts off. Everything is most obvious if it fits in or around dave just about every horn line in dave does. If you look at a line you should be able to tell what dave it is, and if you know what dave it is, you should be able to just sight read a line without even reading it because it’s obviously ‘gonna be this’. —  As far as the future development of this music how do you see things moving? How I think it should be or how do I see it going to be? I am not optimistic at all, unfortunately. I am optimistic that there will always be people who want opportunities to play it, but not optimistic that those opportunities will be around the way things are going and the way latin music is heading towards reggaeton even in Puerto Rico. I don’t think the salsa scene is really interested in live music in town. Just the way the economy goes  Not affordable to hire big bands.... No, it’s not. It’s tough to organize. This is the second age of big bands. The first lived a full life and died in the 1 940s for much of the same reasons that this is dying. People’s tastes change, the ecomony changes. Plus, people don’t care if they see 20 of the best musicians playing their heart out.  Could you see latin band like this becoming institutionalized like jazz big bands have become? Taken into universities etc. When I went to cap, no one knew about latin music, no one cared about latin music. I had to go away to learn about latin music. Now, many of the people who came through the resurgence of latin music in the 1 980s, John Korsrud for one, Sal Ferreras these are educators who are helping educate. I play a gig now and there are people from VCC or Cap there. I would like to see more of the colleges invite people like us in to do clinics and the such, but I don’t know.. .tough to say. As I said, there will always be people who want to hear it, there will be people who want to play it, I just don’t know if there will be the opportunities for them to perform. I am not working as much as I was last year, and I am not a worse musician —  Is that because of a shift of people’s tastes? In this place it has been a shift from the people who were supposed to support live music they have decided not to support live music.The traditional audience has been cut off.  —  92 The teachers, the dance teachers who should link up with the musicians, just isn’t happening. 4) John Korsrud (June 4, 2007) DOB: Aug 3rd 1963 (Vancouver, BC) Profession: Musician/Composer Let’s begin with your first experiences with Latin Music The first time I heard salsa I loved it immediately I was doing a cruise ship gig in Mexico and I heard the sound track to.... Dirty Dancing (?). It was the Mario Bauza big band and I had never heard anything like that before and I wanted to learn more about it. So I came back to Vancouver and I went down to back swan records and they gave me Fania All Stars and Los Van Van. This would have been like 1988 or so, a year before I graduated from UBC in 1988-9. At that time Martin Romero started up Orquesta Maya or something before that. And they were as far as I know the first salsa big band in Vancouver — as far as big band salsa horn section goes. There was Rio Bomba before that, they were doing latin, but they weren’t doing salsa. They were more a jazz, latin jazz kind of thing. Graham Ord was in that, Bruce Freedman, Hugh Fraser I think too for a while. So, before that time I was a freelance trumpet player in my twenties and I played tons of R&B gigs, big band jazz gigs, calypso gigs and reggae band stuff. Way too many blues bands and such so when I got called to do these salsa gigs I loved it immediately because A, it seemed like a really hip music, (B), the horns got to play really fun parts and it was an exotic music to me. I immediately tried to research this music, I remember going to UBC and trying to find theory books — which there would be none and now there are tons, an explosion of interesting salsa books. So back then I was just buying stuff and making Martin make me recordings and I was pretty much learning it from that End. And even then, Martin didn’t know much about salsa. It was a running joke about how he went to take some lesson and finally discovered found the dave, the rule of the dave and all the different rhythms and stuff. He came back and was like “buddy, buddy, buddy, the dave, the dave has to be like this and that. So amongst ourselves we always joked about ‘Dr. Clave’ was going to heal the world and all that. That’s all he would talk about because he had discovered the dave. So me and Brian Harding would always laugh about it. Then of course the name of his band was ‘The La Clave Orchestra.’ I got very involved, I was in pretty much all the salsa bands in town for the first bunch of years in Vancouver, 1989 till about up until I stopped playing around 1994-5 because of hearing damage.I would still do it occasionally, putting up with the flakiness of the latino musicians. I remember playing numerous dances at the Polish Hall and fights broke out every time because of rival coke dealers. Rival coke dealer and Coke gangs being at the same place. It would happen all the time and there would be like chairs, beer-bottle throwing, fights. It would be great for the band because the gig would just end after about two hours and we would still get paid. Sometimes we would have to hide because we didn’t want to be mistaken as white coke dealers. One time I got a zip gun. This stuff happened on about every fifth gig or so a fight would be great. -  -  -  So were you now better aware of the music? SO then I became really interested in the music, mainly from Martin Romero making me lots of recordings, and another big change for me was discovering Eddie Palmieri who I  93 heard on David Sandborne’s “A little night music.” And for me this was the convergence of my two favorite musics. It was like salsa meeting the McCoy Tyner big band. You get that aggressiveness and the hip arrangements, a little more interesting harmonically, screaming high trumpets, solos, all that sort of stuff. That was a big thing. I became a big Eddie Palmieri fan. And then in 2000 or 1999, through my band the Hard Rubber Orchestra I decided, with Jack Duncan, to put together a kind of All Star Salsa Big band (Orquesta Goma Dura) to do one concert. So we did one show, but it ended up being so popular that we ended up getting hired for gigs for the next three years private functions, CBC shows which they did a CD of us, and so that just kind of took off on its own. —  —  So what is your current involvement in the salsa  —  large ensemble scene?  Well, just Goma Dura which happens off and on, more so sometimes less so. I don’t organize it often because it is quite time consuming and I never make any money quite often I lose money. But, people love it, the audiences love it, the band loves it. I always run into people and they ask me about it so every so often I organize a show and it all just happens it makes it all worthwhile. -  —  So what is it that continues to draw you to the music after all this time?  Well I still love it. I still listen to it tons. It is still my favorite music. It has a very heroic kind of feel to it somehow. When it is done really well it almost seems like the music lifts you off the ground you know when they finally go into the ‘head’ part, the coro section (the montuno ed.), when the cowbell kicks in, for me it is still the greatest feeling in the world. —  —  And then I had a great experience in December when I went to Havana for the first time. And that was amazing actually being in Havana, seeing the real thing instead of some band a t Mesa Luna. Just the spirit they put in the music, it’s just fabulous. Really really great. —  Other than that I don’t really play in the latin bands anymore, but I do do a lot of Latin Jazz stuff. I have my own band, I play with Jack Duncan, things here and there. Small combo stuff?  Yeah. But as a trumpet player I still love playing the music. Let’s move on to talk about the history of the (salsa) community in Vancouver. Can you talk about when you first got involved in the music back in the 1980s? What kind of scene was there back then?  There was no scene. As far as I know, I was in the first salsa big band in Vancouver 5 horns. The first horn section was me, Jaime Croyle, Jason Leeber and Mike Braverman I think. Of course the charts were just a mess I had to listen to the recordings and figure out the arrangements kind of stuff. —  How were the audiences?  —  4-  94 Audiences were great, more or less. I think we got paid 70-80 bucks a gig at which at the end of the gig Martin would say ‘buddy, buddy, I know this gig doesn’t pay well, but the next gig will pay much better.’ Of course, it has been almost twenty years later and the gigs still pay 80 dollars. One funny story was.... In one of these bands, because it was so popular, one of the singers he had a fight with they other singers quit his name was Carlos took all the promo with him and formed his own dances using the picture and the name of the band, saying they were his own gigs. And of course people would go out to those gigs and it was an entirely different band, they did different music and the concerts sucked. So at this point this is with the second band I played with with Julio (Portillo) and so Julio was so pissed off that Carlos took the name and went down to the BC Court of Registry and actually registered his name to stop this from happening a second time, so the band was called Orquesta BC Salsa, which legally you are not allowed to call something “BC something” like BC Hydro, BC Tel unless it’s a British Columbia thing, so in the BC Courts of Registry the official name of Orquesta BC Salsa is ‘Bill Clark’ Salsa. -  —  —  -  —  —  -  Can you talk about how you think the scene has changed or evolved from the time you were first involved to this point? Audiences, musically, socially perhaps? Well now salsa dancing is huge in this town. There doesn’t seem to be as many bands as there once was, about 8 years ago Carlos Martinez had a band, BC Salsa there have always been about 5 bands or so. Salsa dancing as a dance thing is huge. You can go salsa dancing every night of the week, there are websites and that sort of stuff, dance teachers everywhere. People love the music, women seem to love the music. And that has taken off as far as a social thing. The bands that I was in were mostly have salsa and then some Cumbia and Merengue, and it seems now like mostly Cumbia and Merengue with about twenty percent salsa. And of course musicians always like the salsa better vs the meringues, cumbia etc. a little hipper. —  —  Now do you think this musical rep change is because of audience demand or... More the audience demand. I think that cumbias and merengues are what the dancers want, I am guessing, I don’t understand why. Do you think this is a result of the audience demographic? I don’t know. You go to these dance classes and they are all dancing salsa. But when you go dance to Orquesta BC Salsa or BC Cumbia they always play much more cumbia and much more meringue, which horn players hate. —  —  What do you think is going to change? Where is this music going? Will the scene grow? Do you see any change? I don’t know. It’s like a fad like anything else. I remember when I was in my early 20s reggae was a huge thing and I was playing in reggae bands, calypso bands, so it will probably run its course somewhat. Swing dancing was a big thing about 5 years ago. Quite often enough it has to do with who is organizing the dances. Like every city and every scene, it comes down to 2 or 3 guys willing to take those things on, on there own.  95 And that’s usually how it is. Guys like Ran who has been putting on shows at the Hot Jazz Club, guys like Carlos Martinez, Julio....  So more of the leadership taking a role. Yeah. It always seems like the latino crowd is huge. Mesa Luna is no longer in business, I don’t know why. So much shadiness going on that its probably more that than the lack of audience. So I would guess that as a social dance faze, it will kind of go through it’s cycle like everything else. But I am as curious as anyone else to see what it will be like in ten years.  Let’s move on to discuss more specifically your experience with the large ensemble format and about playing in these bands. Musically, socially, culturally. Did you learn more about latino culture and their music? Well I got to meet the latino musicians around town. The singers, the leaders.  Did you find yourself educated in these experiences? Or what is just a gig/money thing? It was a gig money thing! If anything I try not to get to close. They always wanted you to be a member of the band and I just wanted to be a sideman easier to sub out. But I was really fascinated with the music, and I still am. As you know there is a really big population of Canadians who love this music, who have spent a lot of time studying the music. Guys like Jack Duncan, Al Johnston, Lou Mastrianni, Phil Belanger people like that. —  Did you feel like you benefited from your experiences? Oh, absolutely. I mean, I make my living as a composer so even my studying of latino music, the brassiness, the groove and just the excitement that the music can bring have learned a lot about that. Also, just the interesting irony that it is an incredibly simple music but an incredibly complex music at the same time. How they feel the groove and all that sorts of stuff. Even harmonically it is just two or three chords. But it has afforded me as a musician, as a composer quite a lot. I realize that as a composer I look back on what I have wrote and try to figure out where this stuff comes from and I see ‘oh yeah, its that thing from latin music, from salsa music.’ —  So an indirect effect? Yeah  Let’s now talk about how you think these band function in Vancouver as whole. Are they beneficial to have? Do you think they are promoting an ethnic music to a different audience? Or are they simply a product of demand? Well for sure it is beneficial. There is a certain amount of competitiveness between the bands I think Carlos still owes money to about 8 trumpet players in the city! Vancouver is an incredibly culturally diverse city and I think that is what makes up the scene. One of the most diverse in the world the influx of asian and south asian and such. So I think this is all part of it. —  —  96 How do you think playing in these bands effect the musicians. Especially on those who have not grown up in the tradition? Do you think it impacts them? Well, I think there are definitely more gigs, especially for more younger players. And it requires a certain kind of musician, as you know, as a trumpet player you need to be a strong player to do it, you need a lot of chops maybe not so much for the saxophone players, but definitely you need the lead players. And even those old fashion lead players are a dying breed in the city because there are not longer working (jazz) big bands anymore. Generally speaking, blues bands and R&B Bands no longer use horn sections, so in a sense latin bands are one of the very few kinds of musics that employ horn players. —  So they are an outlet for performances. And then there are players like Niho, Chris Trinidad, those kinds young Canadian musicians who are finding employment in rhythm sections. I don’t know any singers, very few if any percussionists except Jack and a couple of others. -  How do you think these bands are going to continue or change in the future? Well, I think they will always have a following in the latin community for sure. There is enough of an established dance, social scene in Vancouver that there will always be something there but they seem to be just as happy dancing to DJs. And of course it is cheaper and less hassle to hire a DJ pay some guy 300 bucks versus hiring an entire band and paying them 1200 and having to deal with the PA, microphones and that sort of stuff. But for me there is nothing like listening to live musicians. As far as the future goes, I don’t know. Who know what the next fad will be. But you could say that it has gone through the whole fad thing already, with the dance scene a little off they way. —  —  5) Niho Takase (Nov 16, 2006) DOB: Jan 14 1973 (Osaka, Japan) Profession: Baker, Musician Niho, why don’t you start by telling me about your musical background I started playing piano in grade 4. I took lessons from my aunt who taught piano at the university. So, I played until I was 18, and then I didn’t play until I moved here. I moved to Vancouver with the intention of learning English eight years ago. I saw an ad for jazz piano lessons and ended up taking a lessons with Sharon Minemoto. I then went to VCC the following year. There I met Kathy Kidd and she is the one who taught me how to play salsa. So why did you decide to go to music school? Well, I didn’t know that you could learn jazz at school. In Japan if you go to school for music it is only classical. They don’t teach you anything else so I thought it was pretty cool to go to school to learn jazz.  97  So with your intention of studying jazz piano you enrolled in VCC. There you met Kathy Kidd. Was she the piano teacher there? Yes So what sparked your interest in Latin music? Well, for my first year jury I had to play two songs. So I picked Moshkinada (a latin jazz standard), and Kathy said that she loved playing Latin Jazz so she suggested that they learn more about playing Latin Jazz. She said that everyone wanted to learn jazz, why not try something different? I was the only one interested in Latin music, so we pursued that path. So, for that jury I played all my jazz standards Latin. Stella by Starlight was turned into a Latin-jazz piece! —  So she was a main inspiration on your development as a Latin Jazz player. Had you had any experience listening or playing latin music before hand? No, but it was funny because when my first jazz piano teacher Sharon was trying to teach me to play jazz, I couldn’t swing! I played really straight and she said, “well try this bossa nova pattern,” and I got it right away. So that was it! So then you spent three years at VCC focusing on Latin piano. What were your impressions of the Latin scene at the college? Were you able to perform this style of music there? Well I played in Sal’s (Ferreras) Latin Jazz orchestra. I also took some composition lessons, and started up a Latin Jazz band to play my compositions. What are your impressions of the Latin Jazz scene in Vancouver? Well, people don’t seem to support each other. It’s competitive. When I was in New York, it was very different. There, nobody would say that because I am Japanese that I cannot play this music. People often ask me if I only play Salsa and Latin-Jazz, why I am living in Vancouver. There is nothing happening here, when I came back from New York I was very inspired to start something, but what I encountered was an attitude of “what are doing? You can’t play this, you don’t know how to play this.” So you have found that being Japanese has been a hindrance to your career in this music. Yes, but it shouldn’t be, but people seem to have that attitude.\ Why don’t you tell me a bit of your time spent in NY. Well, I was there for two months as part of a summer workshop for Latin Jazz. I got to study with the greats, like Sonny Bravo, John Benitez. Every night there was jam session and a lot of music! Then I came back to Vancouver and started La Nueva to play the tunes that I had written by then.  98 Another thing that is different about the local scene to other places is that bands here that play the most don’t rehearse. The bands might be good here, but in relation to other bands abroad they are not that good. So why do you think those bands are still playing and other bands that do rehearse are not? Well for one there are simply not as many people playing this music. But for the most part it is political. There is also a lack of venues. What is comes down to is that there is simply not enough people to support such a definite style of music. But I think that will change as people more here more and more. You can see more a more Cubans coming here than in the past and that will surely affect the music. SO more people of a high caliber will hopefully stimulate a greater audience? Hopefully. Today I see more people playing music, and that in turn means that more people are listening to music and hopefully that will turn into more people being inclined to see live music. So what projects are you in now? Well Expresion Juvenil, a 12 piece salsa band. And I am planning to put together a trio to play old Cuban standards. What is your motivation behind the trio? Well, mainly because no one else is doing it!  6) Sal Ferreras (October 22, 2005) Profession: Musician, Educator, Dean of Music at Vancouver Community College Can you start by telllng me what the Latin scene was like when you arrived here? Well there was something happening before I arrived. I moved to Victoria in 1980, but I was commuting to Vancouver to see what was happening. In about 1980-1 there was a band here called Rio Bumba and that was run by Albert St. Albert who is now a dance accompanist at SFU. That was his band with Coat Cooke and Bruce Freedman, Graham Ord, Hugh Fraser on Keyboard and Trombone! It was a pretty fun scene. It was Latin Jazz not Salsa. Most of the gigs were at the “Classical Joint” in Carrall street across from the Blarney Stone, and at the Sheraton Landmark on Robson near Davie. Those places were really happening live scenes. Those places were packed! In the early day there was also a guy called Boying Geronimo, a monstrous bongo player, also put some bands together that was not Salsa, but that is what he liked. His son Raphael Geronimo runs Rumba Calzada. In 1982 I moved into Vancouver and in 1983 I put the first band together. It was actual Salsa Willie Colon, Ruben Blades etc. Kathy Kidd on keyboard, Boying played bongos, Jack Duncan on congas, an a number of different bass players. —  99 At that times, none of the bass players in town knew how to play montuno so we had to teach each one of theml Kathy was learning to play the montuno feel, Graham Ord on Saxes, Jaime Croyle and Paul Baron were the trumpet players, Henry Christian too. The band ended up being called “Salsa Ferreras.” At the time we were all essentially learning how to do it together. We were all working in classical music and would do these gigs when they happened and they happened more often that not 1 There was no scene, nobody knew how to dance salsa, and when we did a series of shows at the commodore ballroom called “Muy Caliente.” It would begin with about an hour of lessons at the beginning. We just tried it out to see what would happen and it turned out to be a big hit. We were doing dances of up to 1000 people, so it got happening really quickly. The band got up to about 15 piece and then I gave it up because I just couldn’t rehearse that many people and deal with so many people’s schedules. —  But, when we came into being the majority of Hispanic people in Vancouver were Central Americans and Columbians, who wanted to hear Merengue and Cumbia. I refused to play that. I wanted to play Puerto Rican or Cuban style salsa! We got a lot of support from Canadian audiences and from COOP Radio, Folkfestivals, Jazz Festivals. It was the right atmosphere. The scene got going pretty quickly and many of the players from my band went on to play in the other bands that had started around town to meet the demand. The next generation of bands were BC Salsa, La Clave, Tropicana. And then Boying started Rumba Calzada, it was a smaller group, a sextet. Because it wasn’t long before the work for a big band dried up. It just wasn’t financially possible to keep a band like that running. The in the late 1990s, John Korsrud, who had been playing in these bands for years, converted a portion of his Hard Rubber Orchestra to Goma Dura. SO before the rise of these big bands playing Salsa, Cumbia and Merengue, there was more emphasis on Latin Jazz? Had people been exposed to the music before or was it just experimental? They didn’t have the experience, they were just Jazz players experimenting with some Caribbean styles. It came out of the tradition of adding congas to jazz combos and samba and bossa nova styles. At that point there wasn’t any distinction between style of Latin American music it was all thought of as Salsa. There wasn’t a following for each style. This was before the world music explosion. So after you dissolved Salsa Ferreras, did you remain active in the scene? Yes. I played in some other bands and the SF band would conferences and festivals. The Dragon Boat festival the PNE etc. How have you seen the scene change during your time in the city? There has been definite changes’ There are a lot more people here now that know the different styles. They can dance and they expect a certain style. The most remarkable change was in seen in the late 80s when you had people who had been playing this stuff for years now and had gone to New York, Puerto Rico and Miami and studied. They went and learned how to play montunos properly, and learned to play in dave. The level  100 of percussion playing really rose. People could really play timbales, congas etc. whereas before they really couldn’t. There hands could do the stuff but they didn’t have the feel. Was that a product of greater interest in the music, economics? There was a greater market so there were more gigs, therefore it was that much more important that these player keep there edge in the market. So they had to play better! So greater competitions meant greater skill levels Yes. And a lot of the Latino band leaders relied heavily, as they do in New York, on brass players such as yourself who come from a jazz background and are able to orchestrate and arrange for big band. That was a big transformation. There is a market now for this music. That is why even festivals like Festival Vancouver puts on Latin themed events. Other transformations that have occurred have been with players like Al Johnston who have studied and honed their skills so that now they are playing and writing at a great level. I have seen Cuban players play their tunes because they are that good. It has reached a comfortable level so that now some bands can focus on one specific style. Some play only cumbia or Merengue while others play only Puerto Rican salsa. Some play the Afro-Cuban stuff some the old Cuban stuff. How do see the scene moving to the future? Do you see further development of the style in this city? What is behind right now, as is the usual case with traditional styles, is that the home style is advancing whereas the people who are away from those centers are trying to emulate the music that was famous at the time they left those places. Like the Puerto Rican and Cuban stuff happening right now is way beyond salsa. Timba, a lot of hip hop. These new styles are embraced by the people there. Electrification, drum sets, bata drumming have all made it into the system. We are a bit behind in that aspect here but I am seeing it being experimented with smaller groups. As far as Latin Jazz, I don’t know if this is the center for Latin Jazz anymore. I think that it has shifted to Toronto, because there is enough of a market. The Latin American and Caribbean audience plus the Jazz audience alone are big fans, and they are able to support it better. The transformation is happening. People have more access to the new musics being produced and more players are traveling and sharing their music abroad compared to what it was before. Early on this music was a novelty and now it has become mainstream.  101 APPENDIX C: TRANSCRIPTIONS (ATTACHED)  1. Dime Done Estas 2. TeVeoalFin APPENDIX D: RECORDING TRACKS  1. Dime Donde Estas 2. Te Veo at Fin  jig  I  S  -S  x  0.  ‘U 0.  01  01  01  x  ‘U  =  -  x 01  01  CI 01 ‘U  0-  Cbl  =  C’, C’, C’,  = = = =  -4  -4  4-  0-  4-  0I ‘II  0-  \d  C’, C’,  = =  41  •  E  ,  =  II  -d  I..  I.  E  E  J  I  I  I  r =  1=1  E  r 1F  E  LL  LL  E ci  E ci  11  C,,  C,,  (.4  -.,  II  II  —  II  -  ( I 0.  a-  C, 0I ‘al  a-  -‘ i0  -i I-  i —2  —5  -  lb  lb  -  lb  lb  -n  C.., 0 = 0 0  r  1=1 Il C,  = = = C..,  ill  1131  )  H-.  y  —.4  by  I.  I  V  3/  ‘  )  V  bb  CD I  CD  =  II.  CD  C’,  V  I  II C’, C, CD  F..)  rii lol  II  I0I 1=1  1=  ‘  LJ  —4  —I 0.  = a-  ‘p ‘p  0I ‘U  a.  C’,  = I  -4 0.  -4 0..  .  DI hI  0-  = C’,  a, =  Si  a,  Si  Si  Si  Si  -  a,  Si  .  -  A  -  .  .  I I IJ  4  .  -  I  -  -  I—  Si%  Si  Si  E  4  E  LL  U  E  E  I Si  Si  Si  ‘(I  Cbl  I—  r  tO  -4  S  a-  0I  0-  Co  C’, C’, C’, C, = C,  Co C, .  Co  CO  I.’ C  = C = 2  C I-  =  -4 0.  -4 0-  0I ‘II  a-  C C CI, C’, C’,  C  = C = C  =  -4 0.  -4  a-  0I -  a-  = C C C’, C’,  LU  C  = C = C  =  I. I,.  = -4  -4  -S  0-  = 0-  0I 0  = a,  /  a,  C-, C’, a,  A  Is.  C’, -  a,  = =  •s.  a, a,  .(  = . -  -  .(  I  .  I  .  I  .  -  ‘LU  I I  -  Is. E  II  E  LL  4 I  1s.I  I’.  F..  E  E  c)  I  r  00  c)  (  -S  0.  0-  0I  ‘U a-  II  —  —  “  Cbl  —  II  —  II  -  II  •L  = C C  (S S  C’,  0’  0’.  2’  C’,  Sit  C  =  C C  Si  Si -  = II Si -  -  di  Siq  54.  F  I  4U  E  E  c)  c)  a’.  a’  -  Si  S( Si  ‘4L  -  di  4U  E(0  s. II  I  I  I I  E I I  E  c) II  -  II  II  -b to  to  0%  S  0%  —I 0I ‘U  -  a-  0  -‘  r  I—  I -  —  3 -.4  3  cj  4 T4  I.  I  t4  bV  I  Y  ‘  IV  .,.  t14 1IV  113 b)  -.4  )I.  V  Y  V  I)  Th l_4 4 V  “9  lb \0  Ilb\V  3 -.4  --.3  4  14 bY  V  I  IV  I)  V  V  b’I I)  V  ‘  4 V  CD  = CD =  CD  T  C’,  lb  I  V  C’,  C,,  lbi  C, =  )  1 lb lb bb  CD  =  —  i0  -4  -4  -4 -4  U.. U..  -4 -4 I-  •0  I—  = CD  = =  CD CD  C,, C, CD  1 Il  1*  WI!  1) -  -  1t1b  I  )<  t4  )  (  =  -  ii  () 1b LU  (ti)  ) I  I’  I  (  )LL  It,  &  4 It  )I•L  0  )LI  C.)  4  — —  114) 114  I  4  I’  —H  [t4 •-H  •-U  -H  -H  liii Irm  I 1)  Q  C 0  C C  L.  r  -  Q )  ce_I  Si 4  Si  Si  Si  .  N  :  .J  -  _I  =  I—  w  J  —  1-4  EL  —  I’  “  Si  ii,  ,‘  Si  I  ,  -J  -Lt  14  -  -  1—  m  1W  I’  Si Si  m  w  I  )  Si  Hr  w  (  (  )  :Vi U  CD  )  ) U  EH4J  o  fiii C  H  H  -  -  Cl) Cl)  -  1% T4  =  C C CI, C’,  I,  Th  =  I—  —  lib)  C C I  I  1-li 14  w  )( It4  -  ii E E  )  :  (  w  4:  14) JL b 14  C  w  4:  4)  C)  LL  C)  U-  C)  ) Ic’4I I I I I—I II I.’ II  LJ II  II  •  II  II  I  II  II  II  CI  1=1  IR  I  0  rID rj  C) C)  =  I  r  I’=I I©I  ri 1=1  1=1 II  ii C,  =1  II •=r  IOJ C  •=  CI AI  U,  =  =  4I  =  __j  =1 =1  ei  C,  _J  =  1*  I—  —  E  w  A  U  ii  -I  I  —  I  U  (9  U  t1b II  —  L  H’L  (3  b  C  E  E  —  FJFJJJ  rJJJ -,.--  -w  t4  m  ) C.)  C.)  LL  4)  ) C  E o  tT4  P%)  ) C  E U  0  H  U-  rf  C.)  Ic  U,  =  ¼  :1  -  I  &  -  El I  C-,  =  I—  —  -  I LU  I-  c  1  (  E  _o —  Ic 0  (3  r  -r  Li  r  LI  L  -u  i.i.iH  II  -  II  —  I  tC II II  —  ‘A II II  —  -,  I  -  II  E  II  II  I  II  g’l -J  I  -  I.—  LU  1’.  I’ (3  0  o  0  II(  I  J  -I  ir —  I  IIII  ‘  II  —  ‘  b)  (  b b  —‘III  —  -,  II  0  H  C-  II  II  (ID  riD LU  .-t.LJ--.  II  C) C)  —  II  -  II  -  II  -  —  l  —  =  c  -  =  1 (  I.  I—  g.  —I  —  0  I-  -  ill  CD  I)  w 1.  )°  h  -  I  Th  U  ) I’  t.  )(Ci  CD  0  (9  I..  ) ) 4) I.  F1  I  W  H<  1’.  II  II lol  LJ I  II  II  II  II  II  II  II  II  rJt;pr_ -——  0  E  -.  -  -  C) C)  =  )  a’  C’,  =  E  )  —  w  t.  a’ 4  0, I-  E  I’  E  w  I  a’  tib C  E  )  E  w  -% lib  a’  I C  C  E  2 LU  I 4  I 1  C  (L  2 U  4  a’  i  2  H:  I  .2  ‘  4  I  /I I  4  ‘U  a’  a’  11  r  ?cLI  1)  -  1  C-)  b  4  0  ILL  I)  T  r I..  ” 1 V  “I  r  ‘U-  (-)  ‘U-  0  b  I  LL  II  c4  -,  II  I I  —  II  C1 1  II  C  II  rID  Q a)  C,)  H  H  C  —  —  —  —  E1 -  -  -  -  -  N  t4  0  I  L  I  (()  i  1  (‘  (  (  Ii  :  (  :  1.1  I(b __ A A  A A _ ri  I=,I I-,’ II  I.I I.’’ ‘CD’ 1=1 I©I I=1 ‘CDI  LJ  -I CD CD — —I  =  (  CD CD  = Co  >  & p  i. I’J 0%  II  0%  0%  lb  -  lb  -  D  )  0  (  ::  blll lb  lb  3  lb  II  lb  lb  3  ‘  —  II  lb  II  lb  lb  ‘  lb  lb  lb  lb  lb  lb  lb  lb  ‘  b bY  -  (  5’  ‘ -  l (  m  0 V  —  -I1 (  —  1  ‘  =  C  -  1  —  0__ ‘  -I CD  i w  CD  CD  m  -.1  r  7IiI  = C’, C,  -  by  CD  b b I  lb  II  lb  =  —  H  H  G)  0  0  0  D  D  3  3  H  z.  p  -rrr  —  m  w  —  bb  .  by b ‘1  1  -j  -j  -  Ic j  (  1ii  )  -.1  L b  —  -  I.  -,  bi  ‘  lb  -  —  II II  -,  .—  —  bb  —  lb  —  rn E I  m  ,  I  C)  0  (•)  0  y y  1(  y  c:(  I  I  —I CD  t  y y  by by  CD —I  =  ri c  C’, C, CD  = =  = ‘F,  =  I.  I—  —  =  g.  I.  1* (114  I  I  C I-  b  4  4 -  o  o  \I.  r lb  ll  lb  II  .  b C-)  lb  lb  II  II  lb  lb  ‘  b  -  ()  LL lb  ‘  lb  .  (  I,  (114  )  r -  U  II  II  lb  lb  l  lb  ) )(  U  I’  (9  1 UI  00  00  lb 00  I I I  —  H  0  C’4  I  LIII  I I  Cbl C  =  :  %(  I—  4  )  *b  (  C  I -  -  -  —  :  II  —  —  —  —  *  -:  )  Ii 11.  C  I,. 4  )t  ‘14  ir  g.  C  C  *1-Il  w  14 1Th  4  b  I  C  C  C  C  ) I  I  w I  (  ( I  ) C  C  C  C  I’  o \  C  H  H  Cl)  LLLJ  III  

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