Jazz vs Latin (Afro-Cuban/Brazilian)

cantstoplt021

Senior Member
Kind of a loaded question I guess, but what style would you say is harder? I've spent a good amount of time working on jazz so I can definitely fake my way through classic jazz stuff, but I do have a long way to go. Definitely not trying to claim that I'm the most swinging jazz drummer, but I can fake it. Latin stuff however I haven't worked on too much. I can play a samba, bossa nova and I can kind of play cascara and bembe, however I would do so poorly in a Latin band.

I was planning on working from art of bop drumming a lot this semester, but I recently had the idea that maybe I should work on Afro Cuban stuff instead. Not sure which would be better for coordination? Maybe Afro Cuban? Maybe the jazz independence would feel easy after working on Latin stuff, I'm not sure. I know the rhythmic feel is different, but still.

Thoughts?
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Afro Cuban hands down. Jazz is based on the foot hihat on 2 and 4 and the dingyling on the ride with the left hand and right foot improvising


Afro Cuban is based on the clave which is an 8 beat pattern (as opposed to the dingyling bring a 2 beat pattern). Much harder to improvise while doing a clVe on the left foot or left hand. Even harder while doing a cascara or mambo pTtern on the right hand while doing a tumbae on the kick.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I would say Cuban music is harder, for several reasons. There's relatively less good information available; being clave-based, it's a pretty different system, with defined ideas about correctness the musicians take very seriously; it may be difficult to get playing experience. And playing the music on drumset is just harder-- there's a lot of hairy independence involved.

You may find Brazilian music to be more rewarding-- the attitude is more improvisation-friendly, the actual stuff you play on drumset is not hugely different from American-style drumming. I think there's more crossover between Brazilian music and jazz.

Jazz is not easy, but if you have a basic vocabulary together, there's no reason not to do more stuff. I assume you'll still be playing it in a combo, and working on it while you're doing this other stuff.

For materials, Ed Uribe's Cuban and Brazilian music books are both good. The Cuban book is massive, and very intimidating, but the info is clearer than other books I've seen. The Brazilian book is friendlier. Also Sabanovich's samba book is good, very concise.
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
I look at it this way, The origins of these rhythms come from tribal patterns where most likely everyone in the village played a part within that rythm and did not deviate therefor building a complex structure that each member contributed to. For a kit player to fit into that realm is to understand each pattern and go for the feel that is grabbing you or which ever pattern is the driver.. Very hard to generalise about African rhythm as the Country has a ginormous rhythm tree which branches out in every direction. Then to add the Spanish influence as well to it, it is almost indescribable what intricacies can be performed. In a nutshell I would say they are equally difficult as each other.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
As far as AfroCuban music is concerned I think that you all are going for a short cut. The best Cuban drum set players are all rumberos in the first place. Golly, the best congueros and bongoceros in son/salsa and Latin Jazz know their Rumba too.

Since the music wasn't played on a kit in the first place, you are trying to do a translation. Kinda hard to do a translation when you don't know the language you are translating from.

You can wind up saying stuff like
Afro Cuban is based on the clave which is an 8 beat pattern...
Until you can just think and feel that clave (and there is more than one you know) is just clave, and not some kind of thing separated into 8, you will never do more than fake it.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
There isn't a clear answer. Back home (Puerto Rico) most people can play afro-cuban stuff way more convincingly than jazz stuff. Say I'm a student that just started college, I have my basic drum technique and coordination together and I know a few basic beats like bossa, songo, bomba, plena and maybe even a cascara and while I didn't actively listen to the music whilst growing up I was still surrounded by it since the music IS everywhere. So I start my college education, I start working coordination out of Horacio's book, latin tunes are called constantly in jams and gigs so I get to actually apply the material, oh what do you know? My drum teacher started out as a bongo player, so now I'm learning how the bongo works, I take an elective with the percussion teacher and learn how to play timbales, by this point I'm having tons of classic records being thrown at me: "con sangre nueva, indestructible!" My fellow students are working on Pedrito Martinez shit and how to play two bell patterns at the same time (doble campaneo with mambo and bongo bells, sounds so sick) so I start getting more into the stuff. I can easily go see masters of the music playing any day of the week, I join my school's salsa emsemble which basically functions as a working salsa band, it's lead by an amazing arranger that knows the music inside out, hell, even the school's big band will play this music, sometimes for a whole set as the University employs the big band as a dance band. Oh hey, Los Van Vans are in town next week and so on. It's super easy to get into it if you actually want to get into it, maybe one of the few places where doing that is actually possible.

Now say I'm the same student but wanting to learn jazz, sure I'll work out of Riley's book and Syncopation and yeah my teacher is an incredible jazz player but I don't get to see him play the style that often. There's not a single jazz club in PR, there's no dedicated jazz radio station, jazz isn't really part of the culture so unless it's mixed up with a traditional style you can forget about listening to it at festivals and stuff. I've had gigs where the.venue owner wants jazz so we play two swing tunes only for him to come back to tell the band he had "something more latin jazz" in mind. With so few gig opportunities most students decide to focus on other styles, they don't connect with the history so their playing sounds fake.

That was more or less my experience at school. I wanted to learn jazz and I was very conscious it would take a lot of extra work on my part. Still, I was passionate about it so I enjoyed it, whereas even tho I like afrocuban music, I just don't feel the same burning passion as when I listen to jazz, accepting this fact has been a long, conflicting process that definitely shapes part of my identity and gets into how I view myself as a puertorrican musician and what will I ultimately bring to my society and culture.

Anyways, my answer is that the one you enjoy working more on will be easiest.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
IMO jazz, Afro Cuban(and some Brazillian) have more in common than one may expect. In Latin music the Cuban Salsa sound is played much differently than the main land, in the sense that the pulse is not rigid in much the same way that the Jazz swing is not a rigid subdivision. On the other hand the Mexican salsa is known for a very precise clave no cross rhythms. If you listen to the traditional Guatemalan marimba music it is very precise clock like, great for dancing. Much of modern jazz can be traced back to Dizzie Gillespie, who sort of rescued the sound by importing fresh Afro Cuban elements, so they aren't all that distinct.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
Great answer ^^

Basically, the style you didn't grow up with is harder to learn.
Indeed it is a great answer.

If you didn't grow up with whatever the target style is, you have to listen to it. And listen to it. Then go back to the roots and listen to that. I don't see any other way to really get the feel.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
IMO jazz, Afro Cuban(and some Brazillian) have more in common than one may expect. In Latin music the Cuban Salsa sound is played much differently than the main land, in the sense that the pulse is not rigid in much the same way that the Jazz swing is not a rigid subdivision. On the other hand the Mexican salsa is known for a very precise clave no cross rhythms. If you listen to the traditional Guatemalan marimba music it is very precise clock like, great for dancing. Much of modern jazz can be traced back to Dizzie Gillespie, who sort of rescued the sound by importing fresh Afro Cuban elements, so they aren't all that distinct.
Mexican Salsa music? Who?

In brief: "Salsa" came from what the Puerto Ricans and Nuyoricans added to Cuban Son in the 60s and 70s. As a Mexican friend who used to sing in some of the local Salsa bands said "Mexican music is fucking polka."
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
As far as AfroCuban music is concerned I think that you all are going for a short cut. The best Cuban drum set players are all rumberos in the first place. Golly, the best congueros and bongoceros in son/salsa and Latin Jazz know their Rumba too.

Since the music wasn't played on a kit in the first place, you are trying to do a translation. Kinda hard to do a translation when you don't know the language you are translating from.
Point well taken. But I'm a drummer, not a percussionist, and a jazz drummer at that, primarily. It is not my goal to be a great Cuban musician, it's to be able to play the few salsa gigs I get called for, to be able to play with players in town who know that music, and also to add something to my own personal thing— it's a peculiar conceit of jazz musicians to make something personal out of something you never really learned “correctly” in the first place, but there it is.

It's an important point, because professional players need to be able to cover it as a style, while fitting in with more knowledgeable specialists, at some level of commitment short of dedicating our entire lives to it— which is of course what is necessary to “really” do the music. But it's just a fact of life that there's going to be some co-mingling of communities that doesn't entail everyone just converting to being full-time Cuban musicians.

It's funny, when Cuban music comes up the conversation gets very serious. Where with Brazilian music, I'm talking to a bassist about the importance of learning the rhythms, and the pianist, a very accomplished musician from Rio, overhears me and says “Eh, most Brazilian drummers I know don't play the rhythms.” I mean, you have to learn the rhythms, but the difference in attitude is funny to me.

Thanks for the great comment, Numberless. I'd like to get your list of classic albums sometime-- got a top 25?
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
As far as AfroCuban music is concerned I think that you all are going for a short cut. The best Cuban drum set players are all rumberos in the first place. Golly, the best congueros and bongoceros in son/salsa and Latin Jazz know their Rumba too.

Since the music wasn't played on a kit in the first place, you are trying to do a translation. Kinda hard to do a translation when you don't know the language you are translating from.

You can wind up saying stuff like Until you can just think and feel that clave (and there is more than one you know) is just clave, and not some kind of thing separated into 8, you will never do more than fake it.
Last I checked , the 2-3 or 3-2 clave (son or rumba) last 8 1/4 notes (in cut time) compared to the jazz dingiling that lasts 2 1/4 notes.

And yes , we are playing a version that we "translate" on the drums which makes it even more challenging.


El negro would be a good example of that.
https://youtu.be/wJEp8J5sURM
 
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Nate'sKit

Senior Member
Point well taken. But I'm a drummer, not a percussionist, and a jazz drummer at that, primarily. It is not my goal to be a great Cuban musician, it's to be able to play the few salsa gigs I get called for, to be able to play with players in town who know that music, and also to add something to my own personal thing— it's a peculiar conceit of jazz musicians to make something personal out of something you never really learned “correctly” in the first place, but there it is.

It's an important point, because professional players need to be able to cover it as a style, while fitting in with more knowledgeable specialists, at some level of commitment short of dedicating our entire lives to it— which is of course what is necessary to “really” do the music. But it's just a fact of life that there's going to be some co-mingling of communities that doesn't entail everyone just converting to being full-time Cuban musicians.

It's funny, when Cuban music comes up the conversation gets very serious. Where with Brazilian music, I'm talking to a bassist about the importance of learning the rhythms, and the pianist, a very accomplished musician from Rio, overhears me and says “Eh, most Brazilian drummers I know don't play the rhythms.” I mean, you have to learn the rhythms, but the difference in attitude is funny to me.

Thanks for the great comment, Numberless. I'd like to get your list of classic albums sometime-- got a top 25?
A Salsa band with drum kit. Yuck. Why? Unless you are doing Timba and then you better know something.

This is where it comes from.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AlYpp8F5a8

Check out what the requinto (damn that thing sounds good, all them drums do) player does. The speaking parts. Do you have any idea what he is doing? When, and why?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOQvzI1A2P0&list=PL76E70F6A8885A729
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
Last I checked , the 2-3 or 3-2 clave (son or rumba) last 8 1/4 notes (in cut time) compared to the jazz dingiling that lasts 2 1/4 notes.

And yes , we are playing a version that we "translate" on the drums which makes it even more challenging.


El negro would be a good example of that.
https://youtu.be/wJEp8J5sURM
Say waht? Clave is clave. There is a pulse of 4 underneath it which is often counted as two anyway. 8.25 just gets in the way. 8-1/4, that hurts my head just thinking about thinking about it.

Clave is clave. You can come in on the 3 side or the 2 side.

Horacio "el Negro" Hernandez is not translating. Saw him with Ft. Apache. That is his native language. He's just came up with a different dialect/accent.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's paying work, anyway. I won't be refusing future jobs with them, but I'll let them know you question their judgment in calling me. ;-)

I didn't represent myself as being knowledgeable about Rumba, but thanks for the links-- I'll definitely be watching those. You should start a thread where you educate people about Rumba. Obviously you have a lot of knowledge, and a strong desire to share it.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Say waht? Clave is clave. There is a pulse of 4 underneath it which is often counted as two anyway. 8.25 just gets in the way. 8-1/4, that hurts my head just thinking about thinking about it.

Clave is clave. You can come in on the 3 side or the 2 side.

Horacio "el Negro" Hernandez is not translating. Saw him with Ft. Apache. That is his native language. He's just came up with a different dialect/accent.
Are you saying that if one is not portorican or Cuban , one cannot play Afro Cuban music?
It's like saying " if you're not black , you can't play jazz".

And yes, writing down a clave pattern take 2 bars (8 beats) and it is much more difficult to improvise with 2 limbs when the ostinato is based on a long phrase like that .
I can do a lot of improvising with kick Nd snare while doing a dingaling on the right hand and hat on 2 and 4.
When I try to improvise or just copy what I hear while using a left foot clAve , not so much. Got a loooong way to go and I bet it will be the same for most people.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
Kind of a loaded question I guess, but what style would you say is harder?
The one you're weakest at.

Let your heart guide you. Learn to play the music you enjoy and it will be a work of love. Just working on something because you think it's "hard" is utterly ridiculous and misses the whole point of playing music; namely "joy" and "expression".
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Say waht? Clave is clave. There is a pulse of 4 underneath it which is often counted as two anyway. 8.25 just gets in the way. 8-1/4, that hurts my head just thinking about thinking about it.

Clave is clave. You can come in on the 3 side or the 2 side.

Horacio "el Negro" Hernandez is not translating. Saw him with Ft. Apache. That is his native language. He's just came up with a different dialect/accent.
Actually there are subtle differences between three two claves. Depending on the time signature and how they are swung, they can be 3/4, 12/8, 4/4, 2/4 etc.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
It's paying work, anyway. I won't be refusing future jobs with them, but I'll let them know you question their judgment in calling me. ;-)

I didn't represent myself as being knowledgeable about Rumba, but thanks for the links-- I'll definitely be watching those. You should start a thread where you educate people about Rumba. Obviously you have a lot of knowledge, and a strong desire to share it.
Heck yeah. Take the money and run. I often see the timbalero with a converted floor tom kick, a couple of cymbals, and a baby snare to handle that type of thing.

There's plenty of other places on the web to find out more, with people who are way more knowledgeable and articulate about than I am. I am mainly concerned of letting people know that there's more to it than commonly thought.

There's a freaking Carlos Santana tribute band in town that has everything down but the rhythmic concepts. They don't want to hear about it. They do a percussion break and it sounds like a hippy drum circle.
 
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