SO looking forward to The Art of The Descarga at Yerba Buena Gardens Festival on June 14th (1:00)!!!
The classic Descargas from the ’50s and ’60s are and will always be such a mighty influence in our formation that there is no way to overstate it. For several generations, students, aficionados, fans and pros who have discovered or been turned on to the treasure, have enjoyed and immersed themselves (ourselves) into this deep well of creativity, inspiration and improvisation. Those recordings by all the artists I mentioned in the last blog and many others, are truly among the most important in our arsenal of resources that inform and energize our understanding of where we come from musically and how to move forward with taste and a solid rhythmic foundation. When we speak of the evolution of Afro-Cuban jazz, jazz Latino, salsa and timba, the descarga holds a place of distinction.
So to have the responsibility of honoring this great tradition through the generosity of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival’s commissioning of original compositions, is a wonderful challenge and something for which we will be forever grateful. We’ve been having a lot of fun working out the details, but it is actually a major milestone in our respective careers to be given this opportunity and we (The John Santos Sextet) are all digging deep to find a way to express what it means to us as individuals, composers, teachers, and improvisors. The result has been a marvelous, wide array of approaches and moods, much of which I believe will surprise the audience and challenge their own conceptions of what really makes a descarga. We didn’t want to play an entire hour and a half of descargas that simply paid homage and did not stray from tried and true traditions. At the same time, we don’t want to get too fancy and lose the general essence of freedom and musical abandon. I am confident that we will present an afternoon of highly expressive music that acknowledges the roots as well as the need to morph and evolve. Openness has always been a part of the descarga tradition that I admire and has contributed greatly to the popularity of the style. You be the judge on June 14th and let us know what you think.
Again, I must make mention of the fact that descarga pioneer and living legend, Orestes Vilató, will share the stage with us on a few pieces as will percussion whiz, Javier Navarrette. We spent the last couple months writing, the last couple weeks rehearsing and prepping the pieces, and this week, our guests will join the rehearsals to add another layer of excitement and color to the compositions. Presenting this material with Maestro Orestes is a dream-come-true!!! Be prepared for fireworks!!! Eternal gratitude to Linda, Ray and the entire YBG Festival staff!!!