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MP3 Richie Gajate-Garcia - Entre Amigos

Original Latin songs performed by top Latin drummer/percussionist Richie Gajate-Garcia which showcases his Puerto Rican roots and love of drums and percussion.

11 MP3 Songs
LATIN: General

Richie Gajate-Garcia

Music Among Friends-A Review of "Entre Amigos"

by Jared Cobb for DRUM! Magazine

As the enemy''s threats rise, the financial outlook plummets. Political muscle strengthens while the familial bond weakens. And the nation - the world - hangs its collective head and waits to hit rock bottom. Only art can save us now. We need a fresh painting to lean on, a familiar sculptor''s hand to shake, a neighborly poem to speak what''s in our hearts. And, damn it, we need a beat to dance to.

Enter Richie Gajate-Garcia, a percussion powerhouse with over 450 worldwide clinics under his belt, not to mention performances with artists like Phil Collins, Sting, Celia Cruz, and Don Henley. He pioneered the first instructional video for LP, Adventures in Rhythm, Volume 1 (later followed by Volume 2), now distributed as LP''s Close-Up on Congas and LP''s Close-Up on Bongos (distributed by Warner Bros.)has written two widely popular instructional books (Play Congas Now and Play Bongos Now published by Warner Bros.), invented some essential percussion tools (LP''s Gajate Bracket and Vater''s Gajate Beater), and worked on several movie scores including Jennifer Lopez''s Maid in Manhattan and Eddie Murphy''s I-Spy and The Mummy Returns. His second and latest CD, Entre Amigos (Among Friends), is a microcosm of his years of dedication and a true tribute to his energetic and befriending attitude. (For more information on Entre Amigos and Richie Gajate-Garcia, visit https://www.tradebit.com.)

"I always preach that if you want to be successful in this business and stay active in it, the more styles you can learn the more doors which open for you" says Gajate. "So with my first CD, Mis Tres Hijos [My Three Sons], I kind of practiced what I preached. In that first CD there was Brazilian, South American, new age, funk, and so on. A lot of people were asking me why I didn''t do a Latin CD, since I''m a Latin player. So I decided I should do it and I followed through with it. That''s how Entre Amigos came about. This is more like a memoir of my career, and I want to have some record of it. And four children is a lot of motivation," he laughs.

It''s a musical task that no man should undertake alone. Thankfully for Gajate, his deep roots in the music industry have given bloom to countless enduring friendships and musical acquaintances - Luis Conte, Alex Acuna, Jimmy Haslip, Wally Reyes and more.

They had their work cut out for them. Gajate''s web of instruments and styles on Entre Amigos could entangle even the most adept players. "Even though I''m Puerto Rican and salsa is my music, I''ve combined different styles for different songs. For example, ''Gozando y Bailando Plena'' starts out with a rhythm called fulia from Venezuela and then goes into the plena from Puerto Rico. ''Maria Luisa'' is a more straightforward salsa, but it''s a bit modernized in the sense that I''m playing timbale incorporated with a snare drum and a bass drum. The playing is a little more contemporary. And ''Lisette Marie'' starts out as a merengue and turns into a vallenato.

"Of course I have congas, timbales and bongos, which is the usual. But I try to add other elements that are less familiar, especially to a lot of people here in the States. In ''Changui'' I play the marimbula, which is like a bass kalimba [thumb marimba] that you sit on and play oversized tongues to sound like a bass. I''m also playing a type of guitar that comes from Chile called a tiple. It''s a four-string guitar where each string is three strings, so it''s four triple strings. I''m not an expert at it, but I taught myself what I needed to know to be able to play what I needed to play. Then Luis [Conte] put the percussion to it. That was more of a fun thing where he was visiting me at home and we decided to put something down on tape as a short interlude." (Man, the next time Luis Conte stops by my house, I gotta remember to lay down a recording!)
Most of the tracks on Entre Amigos were carefully constructed, layer on layer.

Gajate''s Spanish lyrics run the gamut of inspiring, uplifting expression. Several tracks are directed specifically to "our Lord" while others tell tales of his humble family life with his beloved wife Mary and their four children. Such personal writing came easy for the drummer, but not without a little help. "I''ve written some lyrics before, but this is my first real lyric writing. And I didn''t do it by myself. One of the singers, Daniel Castillo, helped me put my words together. Some people have the gift of poetry, so why not go to those guys and have them help me?

"What I hope everyone will gather from the CD is that the messages are all very positive. The reason the rhythms are all pretty upbeat is because we''ve been through enough things in the world that keep our heads down, and hopefully these songs will liven us up and get us dancing and happy. Let''s thank the Lord for our blessings. Let''s love our family, love our children. This is about my heart and how I feel."

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