... alles über Salsa in Berlin!

Interview mit Grupo Latin Vibe - Mai 2010

Grupo Latin Vibe

Mit ihrem Hit La Llave hat Grupo Latin Vibe schlagartig den Salsa Vibe Sound wieder populär gemacht. 2007 erschien die mittlerweile dritte CD. Michael von Salsa-Berlin.de besuchte die Band 2010 zum 2. Mal in New York. Diesmal reichte er EURE Fragen an die Band weiter.

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Michael: I heard about some changes in the band. Could you introduce the new musicians ( who plays now which instrument ).

Tommy: Yes 3 of the 7 members of our group have changed since 2009. On bass we have Orlando "Landy" Felix, a great salsa veteran whom has recorded and performed with legends such as Frankie Ruiz and Fajardo. On Bongo we have the return of Ruben Rosa, who was with us when we first started in 1997 but then moved to Connecticut, he's like a family member returning home. On Timbales we are using Jose' "Papo" DeLeon who is also a New York salsa veteran and gets the crowd whistling and screaming with his incredible solos. We also use Charly Rodriguez as a fill in on timbales when Papo is out with his other group.

Michael: You told me 6 months ago about a new album. You're still in the process of recording / producing? Could you tell us more about this album?

Tommy: Yes we did start our 4th CD project in 2009 but due to all the personnel changes, problems with the recording studio, health issues and the recession we stopped production and "re-grouped." We still plan to record the cd and we have all the material selected, now we need to find a studio that can accommodate our needs musically and from a budgetary standpoint. I truly hope we resume production by the year's end, I know it is way overdue.

Michael: I saw on your WEB-site many concerts and you have released 3 CDs until now. Could you live from your music or do you have other professions (as so many other salsa musicians) to 'survive' ? Which professions?

Tommy: Most salsa musicians have to earn money from a "day job." Some of the musicians in GLV have day jobs but I don't, I live on a tight budget and I am a single guy with no dependents. It's a real sacrifice to be a professional musician in any field unless you make that hit record and even then it is often just ephemeral success. What's the cliche'? "It's a labor of love."

Ann und Carmen: Gibt es ein Konzert in Berlin?

When will Grupo Latin Vibe come and play in Berlin?

Tommy: The sooner GLV plays in Berlin the better as far as I'm concerned. My dream is play overseas to new audiences and see other parts of the world. Other than one show in London in 2007 I haven't been out of the Western Hemisphere so it's time. I believe GLV needs a manager to handle to promotion and logistics involved in touring. We have been doing the managing ourselves and it hasn't sufficiently made the connections necessary to make it happen to this point. Hopefully I'll meet you guys in Berlin in 2011, who knows?!

Mateo: Mich würde interessieren, wie ihr, wie man mit der Musik aufwächst, wo die CLAVE (2/3, 3/2, Mambo, Son ...) der Grundrhythmus ist. Wie bekommt man diesen Rhythmus mit? Hat man dir es gesagt, erklärt oder hast Du es intuitiv heraus gehört?

I would like to know how it is, to grow up with a music where the clave is the basic rhythm. How do you got the Clave. Did somebody told you or explain you? Or do you hear it intuitive?

Tommy: I didn't grow up with 'Clave' I grew up with jazz, funk, R&B and rock. I always loved latin music but I didn't know the rhythmic structures from a intellectual standpoint. I moved to New York to continue my percussion studies and focus on latin percussion and how to play the rhythmic patterns for timbales. How they relate to the clave was explained and demonstrated by some of the masters at The Harbor Conservatory in Spanish Harlem. It took me many years to be able to "find" the clave while listening to latin jazz and salsa but eventually I did internalize it and it's great to feel free in the clave (or groove) when I'm playing and there is nothing else like it. Now I can recognize clave in some of the funk, rock and R&B music I listened to growing up. Essentially it's a 2 bar rhythmic phrase so it opens up underlying rhythm from a 3 or 4 beat pattern to an 8 beat pattern! A great example is the 1950's early rock 'n roll hit by Bo Diddley and also Buddy Holley called "fade away" it's in 3-2 clave.

Toralf: In welchem Land (genauer) Region liegen eure familiären Wurzeln?

Where ( in which country / region ) are the roots of the families of the band members?

Tommy: 5 of the 7 members of Grupo Latin Vibe are New York born Puerto Ricans except Awilda who was born in PR but grew up in Brooklyn. I am American born and my father is Italian and mother was from Greek parents.

Martin: Wie wuerdet Ihr Eure Music bezeichnen: Mambo oder Salsa?

How would you describe your music: Mambo or Salsa?

Tommy: I would describe our music as salsa since it is the term of this generation. People learn to dance salsa, they go to salsa clubs to hear salsa bands and attend salsa congresses. I like the term mambo better, it evokes the classic era of the 40's 50's and 60's when people dressed up in beautiful suits and dresses to dance is big ballrooms like the Palladium in New York and the mambo bands were big 15 or 16 piece orchestras with amazing arrangements. This is the era I wish I played in and what I hope on a less grandiose scale GLV can recapture.

Helen: Eine Frage direkt an Tommy: Wie kamst Du dazu, Vibrafon zu spielen?

A question direct to Tommy: How did it came that you play the vibe?

Tommy: I love this question since I always hear from elders that nobody is taking up the vibes anymore. My mom, bless her heart, put me to play piano when I was in grade school but when I reached age 11 I tried out for the school band on drums. I am more of a natural drummer than a pianist. After abusing my ears for all of my teen years jamming in rock and blues bands I decided I wanted to learn about jazz and become a jazz musician. This also coincided with a rekindled interest in the piano and what makes chords sound so cool. In music school I discovered the vibes as a perfect blend of drums and piano and I became hooked.