Mumbai: Groove to Latin American sounds at this workshop

Updated: Dec 20, 2018, 11:47 IST | Karishma Kuenzang | Mumbai

We signed up for a basic workshop on Latin American jazz conducted by five musicians from the region and returned with a bit of rhythm and harmony in our soul

(From left) Nick Moran, Karim Ellaboudi, Richard Hildner Armacanqui, Pawan Benjamin and Juan Tomas Martinez. Pics/Ashish Raje
(From left) Nick Moran, Karim Ellaboudi, Richard Hildner Armacanqui, Pawan Benjamin and Juan Tomas Martinez. Pics/Ashish Raje

We recall the first time we he­ard Latin American jazz, thanks to pianist Pradyumna Singh Manot, at a popular club in Delhi last year. This time, another pi­anist, Mumbai-based Karim Ellaboudi, is introducing it to Mumbaikars via a workshop with his band, Golpe Tierra. The idea came together when friends and Peruvian Americans Nick Mo­ran (bass) and Richard Hildn­er Armacanqui (guitar), worked with a Peruvian cajon player. "We will introduce enthusiasts to rhythms that form the backbone of our so­ng-making," Moran says.

On December 21, 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm
At The Quarter, Girgaum.
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Cost Rs 200

Piano fingers

Piano fingers
Having sat through enough jam sessions where we improvise spontaneously, we are fairly aware of the basic jazz chord progressions. And I agree when Ellaboudi says, "Most people go from classical to rock to jazz. Often, Western musicians get into jazz because they want to improvise. Jazz is a big word, and it's not a style, but rather, a way of making music." And while we've tried some simple jazz standards, this is our debut in the genre. We learn the montuno technique — and work on the range of harmonising phrases on the piano. All this, while trying to mimic the unique swing and keeping up with the complex rhythms.

(Sax)ophone on the beach

(Sax)ophone on the beach
We gingerly hold the soprano saxophone US-based Pawan Benjamin wields, as he explains the basics. "The more cavities you cover, the lower the pitch is," he says, as I train my fingers. Next, is the articulation on the sax with the tongue. "It has to be quick yet rhythmic and complement the cajon's beats," he instructs, as I run out of breath in a relatively short span. We proceed to work with chord structures and harmonies similar to Baroque-like Western harmonies, which we are
acquainted with.

Cajon spice

Cajon spice
Technically a box with a plastic sh­eet and an aluminium body, the cajon is Peru's main percussion instrument. We perch it on our knee, draping our arm aro­und it. We comfortably begin with basic rhythms, guided by Juan Tomas Martinez, the cajon player and vocalist. What matters is how we use the strength (of the fingers and palms) to strike the cajon — feebly, near the rim, for a soft plunk. While striking the edges emits a high pitch, the centre gives us a lower pitch. We leave polyrhythms for later.

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