NYU Ensemble Update

April 17th, 2010

Three days to go before we leave for Latvia! I’m a little concerned about the travel situation due to the disruption currently being caused by the Iceland volcano, but there’s nothing to do but wait and see, and hope that the ash blows away from our travel route.

We have been busy getting the music more and more happening. As good as the band sounded at the Blue Note, there was plenty of room for improvement in ensemble work and negotiating the Afro-Caribbean grooves, which some of my students haven’t had much direct experience with up until this project. Aside from dealing with the music itself, I’ve been working with the students individually and in groups on solidifying their overall rhythmic awareness and applying that to the clave based music that we’re playing.

A help for me in this has been using the exercises from a great book called The Clave Matrix by David Penalosa to get the students to experience rhythm in a more direct, embodied way.

This work paid off at our fundraising gig last Wednesday at the Tutuma Social Club, where the group showed increased confidence in playing the charts and with the rhythm. Incidentally, Tutuma ia a hip little spot that you should check out! Great atmosphere and food, a wonderful proprietor (Santina) and staff, and good music (I stuck around after our set to sit in with my old friend, guitarist Dave Stryker and his trio).

Here’s clips from our Blue Note and Tutuma gigs:

Blue Note:

Tutuma Social Club:

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