That afternoon was at the same time terrifying
and big fun. If youve ever been to the Sunday rumbas there,
you know how crowded it gets. There I am, with all this recording
equipment and about nine mics, trying to get out of there with the
performance recorded, and my equipment intact. They kept the rumba
dancers out of the bands area since we were recording, but
the rum flows like water there, and during the second set, a dancer
got up, and started doing some serious kung fu sort of moves inches
from the mics. I nearly had a stroke, but this guy was good. He
would spin and kick his leg over the mic stand, and never touched
one. If you go, buy one of the CDs from the guys. All proceeds go
to them. Theyre a great band and they played their asses off
That night I gave El Indio the demo of the song
I wanted him to write lyrics for, and he came back with them finished
the next day! And I loved them, they were perfect. I got Marcos
to lend me a keyboard and managed to finish the song that I had
been trying to write for two months in half an hour. Maybe theres
something in the water there, I dont know. I scribbled out
a few ideas for lyrics, along with the coro, and recorded a quick
and dirty demo for El Indio and took it over to his apartment.
Now I was into my second week, and although I
had been having a great time, I hadnt recorded a thing. Every
morning, Hector would show up and say, Bill, theres
a problem. It got to be a joke with us. The day we finally
had everything lined up so we could actually record, Hector came
to the door and said, Bill, theres a problem...
I must have looked like I was going to kill him, but then he cracked
up, he was putting me on.
We piled the stuff into this jeep that Hector
had borrowed (with driver) for the day, and headed out to Marianao.
When we got there, no one had the key to the theater. Ay, Cuba!
Piloto had arranged for me to use the place, but we only had until
one oclock when another bands rehearsal started. Piloto
finally arrived around ten, the key was found, and we got started.
We had three hours to set up, get the sounds on the drums, run through
the song (the musicians didnt know it yet), and get it on
tape. Hard drive, I mean. There isnt any tape.
were doing the basic track to La Gata Loca with Riverón on
drums and timbales, Evelio on congas, Eduardo on baby bass, and
myself on piano. Manolito lent me his piano to use for the recording.
Marcos came around noon, and was a tremendous help. He took the
score from me, conducted the band through the sections as we played,
and cued in the changes. This enabled me to concentrate more on
the piano, but it was a good thing I had planned to replace all
the piano parts with acoustic piano after I got back to the States,
because its not easy to be the producer, engineer and pianist
at the same time, let alone conduct the group.
We got comfortable with the tune, and were recording
it for the first time when the other band showed up for their one
oclock rehearsal. Marcos put a finger to his lips to keep
them quiet, and we finished the take. It was good. Riverón
played ferociously, and he and Evelio have worked together so much,
its like theres a MIDI cable connecting the two of them.
At that point in time, I said to myself, if this basic track is
all I manage to get down here, it will have been worth it.
But one thing was clear: recording in the theater
wasnt going to work out. It just wasnt available enough,
and Klimax had to use some of their rehearsal time there to prepare
for some important jazz festival shows. I asked Hector to look around
for somewhere else to record.
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