La Epoca Film

Discussion in 'Websites of Interest' started by ColdSalsero, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Firstly let me say that my comments refer solely to the first La Epoca film.

    The above comments don't stand up to any sort of scrutiny. You promised to document a group of people who were largely ignored at the time. Even though in the end you didn't actually document them you did give them a modicum of exposure, so of course they are going to want to expand on that. Add the fact that your father was a well respected musician in the mambo era, and of course these people are unlikely to criticise you.

    Incidentally, Celia Cruz died in 2003 and TP died in 2000, so I doubt either of them endorsed your films, seeing as La Epoca 1 came out in 2008. (Or have you been in touch with them via a medium?)

    You're totally missing the point. To summarise my criticisms of La Epoca:

    1. It's unbelievably badly made. In fact it's so shoddy that when watching it I kept thinking the whole thing was a spoof. Bear in mind my background is as a fan of low budget exploitation movies, many of which were made in the 70s with tiny budgets, yet even then there is at least a tiny amount of care put into the final product. In your first movie it appears you didn't even bother to watch it before releasing it, the final product is so shoddy. (The fact it's taken you over 8 years to even bother to see what people are saying about you online says it all really.)

    2. This film is marketed as being a documentary about the mambo era, particularly focusing on the Palladium. It is nothing of the sort - it's just an opportunity for you and your salsa scene cronies to try to associate yourselves with the old school mambo dancers. You don't ask the old school dancers any meaningful questions to find out their stories and you don't show any clips of old school mambo dancing (then or now), aside from a few clips from Mambo Madness (mistakenly referred to as being filmed at the Palladium). Yet you have extensive film of today's salsa scene dancers - the very people the old school dancers criticise - dancing. What an insult.

    3. Even the tiny amount of factual information offered is dubious. The only musician you mention, over and over, is Arsenio. I thought it would be impossible to overstate his importance, but by ignoring the big 3 and various others that's what you have done. If you want to talk about the mambo era then Machito more than anyone is the one figure who had the most significance, but he is largely ignored.

    By failing to ask these wonderful people any meaningful questions to elicit any real information from them, nor editing their comments so any negativity is balanced by positivity, you do these people a massive disservice. The fact that 5 years later you reedited the film so it is (I assume) not quite so bad really isn't much of an excuse.

    In closing I will say I bought that DVD as someone desperate to find out more about the mambo era. I discovered and saw almost nothing of interest. There are occasional moments that I liked it's true, but then I also had to suffer an R&B song and film of today's salsa stars doing multi-spins - how the hell could you possibly think those are appropriate in a documentary that is supposedly about the 50s and 60s? Add to that the fact that the old school mambo stars are made to look very bad, e.g. Cuban Pete claiming to have invented the Suzy Q - why the hell would you include that when a moment with a search engine will show that move predates mambo by decades and originated in jazz dance?

    Have I seen any of your other movies? - funnily enough no. I saw a trailer for one though, and it was so unbelievably badly made that once again I kept thinking it was a spoof.

    I'd stick to the piano playing if I were you - it's a great skill to have and you do it very well as I recall.
  2. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Josué, maybe you can post a trailer for your latest movie? So we can get a glimpse on what has changed?
  3. Yuca, again, I appreciate your response - as it tells me precisely why you are so highly critical of my first film. You saw only the first film and a trailer of another - so this confirms what I thought was the situation.

    You wrote, "You promised to document a group of people who were largely ignored at the time."

    Response: Yes. Very accurate.

    You wrote, "Even though in the end you didn't actually document them you did give them a modicum of exposure"

    Response: Impossible to please everyone. On one hand - you and others got little to nothing out of the first film - I respect that you have your opinions and that the expectations you had were not met. But on the other hand - I can't count the number of beautiful emails received, or the precious words others have shared at most of the public-screenings of that film from old and young (some I've captured on film), or the wonderful testimonials (which I have screenshots of) from dancers in North & South America, Europe, Africa and across Asia. Impossible to please everyone - which is a choice I had to make each time I release each of my soundtracks and films. While I'm very, very sorry that your expectations were not met - I cannot undo what is already done - but even if I could - that would mean that I'd have to forfeit all the most amazing responses to the films from others who got so much out of the films, I'd have to undo how so many others appreciated hearing my father talk about the walking bass, hear Freddy Rios talk about his impression of dancers today versus his experiences back then at the Palladium, and for all those who love the music I composed and produced with some of the very beautiful musicians you conclude are owed an apology, and Cuban Pete talking freely about what he felt his contributions were .. and so much more. The film introduced names and faces to dancers of today - many of whom have shared how grateful they are for doing so. To undo so much and much more - just because some are unhappy - unrealistic and impossible. I made a choice: do what I could for those who are able to receive and appreciate my approach. You are disappointed - and that's to be respected. Again, I'm genuinely very sorry. Of course, now, years later, I look back and I'm like, "Geeez, I should have done a better job at editing, I should have not included this or that, I should have cut this, I should have trimmed this and that" ... and so I did that in the re-edit because of others who shared similar sentiments as you. I listened and I responded.

    You wrote, "Add the fact that your father was a well respected musician in the mambo era, and of course these people are unlikely to criticize you."

    Response: They're unlikely to criticism me? Perhaps, I can share two examples with you to the contrary. First, at Tito Puente's funeral, sitting at the table were my father to my left, Cachao to his left, Cela Cruz to his left, Tony Bennett directly across from me, and several other musicians to my right. It was one of those moments where time seems to stop - they made sure I understand that my generation had a choice to carry on the legacies or let the secrets go in the grave with those who pass away. Cachao was a true gentleman - and I remember clearly how he and Celia Cruz scolded me in front of my father and the rest of them - that being "only a musician" was not enough - but that I should do much more than that - to make sure that my generation at least knows the faces and names of those who made that era what it was. Yuca, you were not there with us that day so I do not expect you to appreciate the pressure I felt. But, from my heart I share with you this: perhaps I was not enough prepared to make you happy - but instead of choosing indifference - I chose to do what I could with what I had available to me. I am not ashamed of trying.

    A second personal experience - was in February 2008 - in Miami Beach. I had only samples of my first movie .. it was just bits and pieces. Pedro (Cuban Pete) and Cachao sat on the sofa near me as I presented about 50 minutes of the bits and pieces I had. I showed them the pieces I wanted and the pieces I didn't want in the film. To my surprise, many of the pieces I did not want were what they felt most strongly about being included in the film. So, while you disagree with them (which you're welcome to), plenty of the footage of the old-schoolers was what they suggested for the film. The footage of younger dancers giving their opinion - a LOT of that I didn't want to be in the film BUT younger dancers told me that it was good to have both generations to show opinion others might relate to. There is a LOT that goes into making a film, Yuca, and not always do I get the best advice or leadership. I'm not the only one in the world who has gone through trial and error.

    So, unlikely to criticize me?? They did. A LOT. And I was under a lot of pressure to nurture the nostalgia of the old-schoolers with giving something the younger generation could relate to. Part I Re-Edited - is NOT 2hr-30min like the original - I cut it down to 1 hour and 40 minutes .. removed a LOT of that footage from the first film that took up space .. and added footage of some of the dancers of today you are critical of - because strangely enough - one of the biggest criticisms of my first film back then was that dancers of today couldn't relate since there "were not enough respected dancers of today" in the film. So, I took that advice seriously. It seems that you disagree with that strategy - but it was the strongest criticism coming - and after the re-edits of both films - that's when things changed and things got much, much better.

    You wrote, "Incidentally, Celia Cruz died in 2003 and TP died in 2000, so I doubt either of them endorsed your films, seeing as La Epoca 1 came out in 2008. (Or have you been in touch with them via a medium?)

    Response: Again, perhaps I can be more clear. Buena Vista Social Club was released in 1999. It was the first inspiration for me. I told my father that I was inspired to do a documentary. One of the first calls he made: Tito Puente. His schedule did not allow for us to meet - but he heard the idea and the concept - and he contacted two other musicians who were in my first film whose contact information I did not have. The movie "The Palladium - Where Mambo Was King" was released in 2002 which was the biggest inspiration. By the way, I had done plenty of telephone interviews and taken notes - and I asked my father to call Celia Cruz. We spoke, she heard the concept, and said some of the most beautiful words to me encouraging me to do the movie - and she warned me that many would react in various ways - some positive, some negative - but that my intent was what they (the older generation) would judge most.

    Yuca, you were not there, either, to experience those very precious and personal moments. Of course, I was frightened and worried about who would be disappointed. The least of whom were disappointed are the very ones you believe deserve an apology from me. I don't know how else to express to you that my heart was and is right, my intention was clear, and there is no shame in that.

    Lastly, about Arsenio, he contributed so much to these scene. You may not be aware - but he was the musician all others referred to .. he was the musician who the other musicians were very pleased was given that time.

    Impossible to please, everyone. I had a choice to make. I made it. There is no shame in this. Since you feel so strongly about this - and are so vocal without knowing the facts - and since you seem to quality yourself as a film critic - just out of curiosity - have you exercised the courage to produce your own film - to contact the beautiful persons still alive (Charlie Rodriguez, Pacheco, Alfonso Panama, Luis Mangual, Jose Mangual, Freddy Rios, Mike Ramos...) .. to compose your own music and record and produce your own music and that the musicians still living would devote their time to record in those tracks of yours? These are just facts .. I'm not boasting, but sharing some of what went into what I did. Have you or do you plan to produce your own film the way you think it should be done - and put yourself out there to others who will be disappointed and openly criticize? If no, why not? You seem to feel that you know better how to produce the films, how to compose the music, how to interact with these beautiful persons, how to market it and balance the material for the widest audience possible .. so why not do it yourself if you have not, yet?

    Thank you, again. I speak from my heart with as much kindness and humility as possible while still defending my work and myself from your criticism. If you find it in your heart to respond, with kindness, I look forward to it. Most of all, THANK YOU for taking the time to respond with clarity. You may or may not believe this - but I'm grateful that even though we disagree - that you have had this open dialog with me. It means a lot. Thank you.
  4. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    I think that says it all really.
  5. Sadly, I put my heart out there for you - and you simply trample on it. Well, I tried my best to make amends - but you're closed to that. That's unfortunate.

    But, however my comments may be interpreted by you .. people will see what they want to see. Unfortunately, I couldn't please everyone .. but I tried my best .. and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

    Facts remain: since you feel so strongly .. as I wrote .. why not do your own film and your own music? This way, you can give justice to those whom you think I didn't. I think that would be courageous and a good way to put yourself out there to fully understand what I tried to do and still do.

    It's easy to criticize and condescend as you do. If you're ready to produce something of your own to an int'l audience - I wish you luck.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  6. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Such comments just go to show how pathetic and ignorant some (I'm sure not all) of today's salseros are. Personally I don't think you should have taken any notice of them.

    I haven't exactly trampled on your heart have I? I've given you a detailed explanation of why I have such a low opinion of your 1st film. You have attempted to argue that the film isn't low quality and/or if it is, it's not your fault. (You've also accused me of condescension, which is untrue.)

    By making my criticisms so vehement I made it hard for you to accept their validity, but I have no reason to continue arguing with you over whether or not your first film is dreadful. I've seen it twice so I know how I feel about it. (I haven't seen your later works, and they may well be of a higher standard.)

    I would like to conclude by saying that there are small parts of La Epoca that I did enjoy, for which I thank you, and I hope that, with or without taking on board my comments, you can continue to do well in your future endeavours, whatever they may be.
  7. Thank you for your time. Thank you for a kind response just now - that is genuinely appreciated.

    You wrote, "Such comments just go to show how pathetic and ignorant some (I'm sure not all) of today's salseros are. Personally I don't think you should have taken any notice of them." -

    Response: Much accuracy there.. I could not agree with you MORE on some the first part. However, I made choices I thought were best at the time - and was professionally advised to - and so when the re-edits were released - I saw the clear distinctions .. and they're what propelled plenty to move much further ahead. I'm pleased.

    You wrote, "By making my criticisms so vehement I made it hard for you to accept their validity..."

    Response: No, actually, I agree with a LOT of what you said .. I had to read between your sometimes impolite undertone but I see your points and you're not the first to make those points. I'm very grateful that you took the time to respond. You didn't have to - but you did and this is much appreciated!! Also, I simply gave you the reasons why I made some choices but you seem to not accept those reasons or perhaps cannot understand them perhaps because you have not walked through the same storms or been faced with the exact same circumstances. Back in June/July of 2011, I read a few negative reviews of my first film one of which I used as a blueprint to re-edit the films. So, you're not the first to harbor such intense disdain for me and my work - and of course regrettably you are among those who saw only my first film and from that first-impression experience make the choices you do. As written early, it's impossible to please everyone which is a choice I made. But, you also have a choice - and you've made yours and continue to. However, that we have had any kind of dialog where you've taken the time to respond in detail has incredible value .. and I'm very grateful.

    You wrote, "I would like to conclude by saying that there are small parts of La Epoca that I did enjoy, for which I thank you, and I hope that, with or without taking on board my comments, you can continue to do well in your future endeavours, whatever they may be.

    Response: Thank you so very much. Very polite of you and much appreciated!! I'm very happy to hear that there is SOMETHING about the first La Época film that you liked .. and for sure it would have been nice to see a balanced review, at first. But nonetheless, at least here in your conclusion of our dialog, I learn that there was something of value .. and you're very welcome.

    Once again, thank you for your time devoted to dialog with me. You didn't have to .. but you chose to .. and this has considerable value.

    Lastly, I am happy to send something to express to you my appreciation for your time and detailed response - because through it - I learn and continue to develop. Among the critics here, you are the one who took the time and this very, very valuable. You may or may not be willing to receive it .. I'm prepared for you to say yes and I'm also prepared for you to say no .. but if it's a yes .. can I send you something by email?
    DJ Yuca likes this.
  8. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Hey I'm an inveterate freeloader plus I love anything to do with mambo or salsa music and dance (not so much modern-day salsa dance) so that's very kind of you - thanks. I'll PM you later.

    Incidentally, if/when I rewatch the DVD I'll let you know which parts I enjoyed. The only bits I remember really appreciating were your father's breakdown of bass lines, and Mongo's daughter singing, both of which I thought were superb.
  9. salsamaniac4ever

    salsamaniac4ever Son Montuno

    @Josué Joseph (La Época) Hi Josue, welcome to Salsaforum. My question is less about your movies. I watched Part I and II and I wanna ask you about clave. We can continue the discussion in the linked thread. It might be a good idea if you first read the thread and the comments. As you can see I already asked in this forum the other members what they think about your clave theory. I quoted your statement you made in your movie. I really would like to know what you think about Rebecca Mauleons and Bobby Sanabrias answer. Here is the link to the thread
  10. salsamaniac4ever

    salsamaniac4ever Son Montuno

  11. @ salsamaniac4ever .. it's terrific that there is so much discussion on clave! I see comments which I think are well-written and written with kindness, others with sarcasm which I don't see a need for here .. but someone messaged me inferring that it could be helpful to answer the question.

    How-ever you find a way to determine the clave of a track - great! Terrific!! If you've found a way that works for you consistently in every track .. then what I say or anyone else may say simply may not be of any value to you. The method taught to me is the method which works consistently for myself plus the musicians I've recorded and/or performed with. So, it may not be what is liked or preferred by others - and it doesn't have to be.

    I've read some of the other comments from the other two links - and when it comes to what was mentioned about bell-patterns & tumbaos - GREAT for those who use that method. But, in my opinion, it can be just as misleading for some people just like others may feel the method I've shared could be misleading for them. What was written is fantastic and it's correct although not fully consistent because not every instrument is played from beginning to end; some might only pick up during the Montuno section which means the entire first 1/3 of the track can be either 2/3 or 3/2 "to an untrained listener" - and that can and often does confuse others.

    Plenty of dancers have not trained their hearing to be able make those distinctions .. and it's not easy for someone who doesn't have an even a a basic level of understanding of music to distinguish the bell-patterns or distinguish a particular tumbao of any of the other percussive instruments. It's just how it is for some. Plenty of times, dancers & musicians who have tried those methods simply gave up and didn't understand until they learned the method which was taught to me - and which I passed on to them. Of course, some may not understand the method I shared .. everyone has a particular learning-style and preference. I don't think there is ONE right method .. just what-ever method one uses and feels comfortable with and which ever method one feels consistently provides the correct results - great for them!!! There is plenty of information which can help dancers or musicians or anyone else interested - and if those methods stated work for them - great!

    Someone in another thread you shared quoted from the movie - and when trying to read through the sarcasm and negativity of some of the responses, that method just may not be what some prefer or like. That's ok .. there's no law stating that must use or prefer or like that method. So, I'm not sure what you want me to say. But, in hopes that I can help be even more clear than what was presented in the film, perhaps this can help:

    The contra-bass is the instrument which, also according to Israel "Cachao" López, my father Alfonso Panamá, Santiago Cerón and many musicians I've personally known and/or worked with, consistently identifies the clave of a track (Son-Montuno, Mambo, etc) - without fail. If this method is not a method that someone likes or understands, then of course it doesn't need to used - so one perhaps should just continue using the methods one prefers. Cachao and my father - Alfonso .. both bassists; they both personally shared helpful information with me - and this was the method taught to me by them - which is what I shared in the films.

    According to this method, if the bass accentuates beat 1 in the track - then this indicates a 3/2 clave. If the bass accentuates beat 8 in the track - this indicates a 2/3 clave. Some tracks switch clave, for example, one may begin with the bass accentuating beat 1 (indicating a 3/2 clave) and then in the Montuno section - it can sometimes switch to accentuate beat 8 (indicating a clave-pattern change to the 2/3 clave).

    Melody is important, of course, but for many of these musicians - the melody does not determine the clave - furthermore - many melodies can be placed over either clave pattern without prejudice BUT of course it's crucial to also say this: often a melody can "fit" more nicely with one clave over the other .. but "fitting" or "feeling better" to one musician or dancer may not be the same for another - therefore - melody does not determine the clave pattern. If I take a melody that someone *feels* is "absolutely a 2/3 Clave" pattern - there are plenty of musicians who can write an arrangement to put that same exact melody to a 3/2 Clave track .. so then it's true: melody does not determine the clave. One can put almost any melody one wishes to either of clave patterns which means melody does not determine the clave. Again, some melodies "sound better" of "fit better" to one clave over the other - but melody is not married to a clave pattern unless it's specifically written to each of the beats (a) 1-½-4-6-7 or (b) 2-3-5-6½-8 or a close variation of this.

    I hope this clarifies this method. Again, if it's not one that you prefer - so be it for you. I hope this helps.

    PS .. I don't frequent the forums here .. but anyone is free to contact me on FB with positivity and constructive criticism - presenting the positives as well as the disappointments - but in a kind manner - I'm welcome to that.

    Wish all goodness.
  12. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer


    Don't know if this will make much difference, but if you're curious, the development of what became known as the "Hustle" (and not 'Latin' Hustle) is told by one of its pioneers. In 1970-'72 is when kids in the South Bronx began to formulate footwork and steps that they were calling something else entirely (Rockin'). This was a pre-cursor to the so-called "Break dancing." (What purists identify as BBoying).

    Fair warning to anyone thinking about picking up this book. It is not a detailed technical analysis of Hustle. This is about the pre-HipHop era of the Bronx and a simultaneous phenomenon to the early HipHop culture that was spawned in the Bronx that has been excluded from popular narratives around the borough and its urban culture. What later became known as the Hustle IN NYC was drawn from this generation of dancers in the City and, specifically, the low-income communities of the Bronx.

    The book is available on Amazon.
  13. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    Hi Josue,

    You can interpret my message however you wish. But this is my attempt at a positive response to what you wrote in your response to DJ Yuca, as well as what is a recurring theme with you. And only in the hopes you use your actual strengths, which is both the desire and the capacity to produce content revolved around this subject matter.

    Avoid the story telling (re: your quote above) regarding people who are no longer with us, that a whole slew of people who are still with us were intimate with as well. Particularly family members. Who do read what's online and see everything that people express.
    DJ Yuca likes this.
  14. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Interesting.... And.. not surprised there is no techn. detail ( that would bore most people, not me :D
    Richie Blondet likes this.
  15. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    [QUOTE="Josué Joseph (La Época), post: 320058, member: 295615

    If the bass accentuates beat 8 in the track - this indicates a 2/3 clave. ).


    which is what primarily, sets the format for Son..

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