CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Dance class with the Maestra Ana Perez at Dance Mission Theater

Sunday, July 24, 2011

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Dance class with the Maestra Ana Perez at Dance Mission Theater

It's not often I post about dance classes.. just doesnt make for very good reading..

But it this case, it was a great honor to be asked to play for the Grand Maestra Ana Perez, the great singer and dancer from the legendary group Munequitos de Matanzas.

For Sandy to ask us to play the class, and just Irish Rick and myself, it was a really nice recognition that we can make it happen for him whenever he needs us. A couple of his beginning students were there as well to lend a hand.

We pulled it off... not very high quality stuff, but it was functional. Ana and Sandy were happy, and the students were totally stoked.

We played Bata for Ochun and Yemeya, which is not easy.. and made it work..

It would have been nice to have another talented set of hands, but it was great fun in the end.

So, after the class the two masters are headed up north to Humboldt for the world famous Afro-Cuban workshops, joining the large list of master performers at this years event.

Once again, I'm going to try to make it up to the workshops this year.. Mijail La Brada and I are organizing a caravan heading up Thursday for the end of session parties and wild-ass Rumbas of legend.

Ive often seen pictures of these master packed Rumbas on the beach up north, and always wanted to join them. But we study and play with many of the heavies that teach at the workshops, so its more about hitting the parties for us. That's probably why I haven't made my way up for the workshops in the past.

But this year is a particularly fat year up there, with Miguel Bernal and Roman Diaz joining Sandy, Ana, Lazaro, Spiro, Santos, Jesus Diaz, Suzana Arenas.. a long list of heavies..

Anyway, after Ana's dance class, we headed across the bay to Lake Merrit of Oakland to find Mijail.

We found him singing and playing with Son Cubano at a small but comfortable club in this uncommonly vibrant section of Oaktown.

We were welcomed up to join them, and I played Cata, Guataca.. generally had a great time singing and hanging with the cats... playing a nice mix of a Jazzy Rumba Timba thing with Gerardo Borras and his funky montunos.

That cat can churn butter with the way he rolls those montunos.. Very street sounding..

Gerardo has been here for years, but is still very Havana. He has a really good ear and musical instinct only seasoned performers have. He plays a mean bass, super fat piano and some serious quinto... his specific style, I particularly dig...

We had a talented cat on sax, who was well versed in both Jazz and Cuban popular music, which is not very common to hear. Ask a Cubano if they can play Jazz and they all say, oh, yea, sure..

I was reared on the teet of Jazz, I know it well. Most of the Cuban cats cant play a lick with the 'real' Jazz cats.. but once in a while you find someone who has both forms in hand. .. always a true pleasure to play with such a cat, no doubt.

We had the place rocking and up dancing their tails off... that was fun to see.

I really like this rumba replacing the trap drummer in a traditional combo.. it really works well for these smaller venues.

So at the end of a really fun day, heading home exhausted, Mijail calls to say.. we are heading to Maria de Colombia's to play!

I was like.. Im going home to sleep! lol

Its not often I miss a chance to play with Mijail (red plaid shirt in pic)

For me, he is one of very few Rumberos with whom I want to work. He is an incredible talent, no doubt.

But Ana's class totally toasted me.. I needed rest.

So, now that Ive slept a few hours.. let's see what trouble we can get into today.. looks like Kittys is hitting at 4, and we may be playing at Disco Volante in Oakland around 8.

little by little

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