CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Mike Spiro - Master of the tradition

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

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Mike Spiro - Master of the tradition

I had the great pleasure to speak with Michael Spiro yesterday, and had the opportunity to thank him for his inspiration. He is another of the humble masters. Mike is a very nice cat, and his easy smile and personable nature is surprising, to some who meet him. He is known as such an intensely driven worker and practitioner of the tradition, with a long list of accomplishments.

He was surprised to hear i follow his career, as if he isnt an inspiration to literally hundreds of players in the US. The humility is charming, and genuine.

He wrote a sweet 'how to' guide for the making of a conga player. Anyone interested in the congas will find it very useful, from rookies to seasoned pro's. Its the best text for learning this instrument i have seen in print.

The cat knows his craft and has studied with the masters of Cuba, including Changuito, Pancho Quinto and Francisco Aguabella among other legends.

He is now the Professor of Music at Indiana University, quite a validation for all his hard work.

He has the highest respect from all the serious players in the area, and has earned his place as one of the top latin musicians in the heart of the scene.. in the Latin musical Mecca of today: the bay area.

After all, he did perform with Grace Slick. Now that would be some serious Coro!!

"In 2004 he received a Grammy nomination for his work as both producer and artist on Mark Levine’s Latin/Jazz release "Isla",

and in 2005 he released "BataMbira", which he wrote and produced with Professor B.Michael Williams. This CD received rave reviews around the world for it's fusion of Afro-Cuban folkloric music with the mbira music of Zimbabwe,

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and that same year he was voted runner up in the jazz/fusion category in Drum Magazine's Reader's Poll Awards, as he continued to record on a variety of different projects around the country. In 2006 Chuck Sher Publications released his long awaited book,"The Conga Drummer's Guidebook", and it has already become the standard in the field for intermediate/advanced instruction."

... is a quote from from Mikes main site,

And here is a project he did with Mark Lamson, another serious traditionalist, Bata Ketu.

Here is a discription - 'Bata Ketu is a musical Interplay consisting of six acts. It tells the story of Yoruba music uprooted from Mother Africa, transplanted in Cuba and Brazil, evolving separately over time, and then reuniting today. The extraordinary music heard on Bata Ketu is the work of two visionary American percussionists, Michael Spiro and Mark Lamson. Together with the Brazilian folkloric singer, Jorge Alabe, and legendary Cuban vocalist, Bobi Céspedes, a timelss tradition comes full circle from its long journey though the ages.'

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It is so incredible, how accessible this master is, and his teachings are at your fingertips, no matter where you live in the world... gotta love that.

Mike has a site where you can download lessons.. very nice work! Video below is an example of his professional and thurough instruction.

Have a listen to a really nice interview with Mike :

One of Mike's projects, Conjunto Karabali:

And a really clear explanation of Clave by mike, on Youtube:

Here is an incredible project Mike did with Bill Summers, very highly recommended!

DANIEL ALFONSO-BILL SUMMERS: El Lenguaje del Tambor Package (DVDs + Book)
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