Thinking about starting a band

Discussion in 'Salsa Music' started by El Conguero, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Hey Miguel, I just found this video of a 7-piece band, Lower East Salsa, with one trumpet and one trombone for horns. Piano, bass, conga, timbale, lead singer. Piano and trombone are helping with coro.


    I like the trumpet/trombone sound. You got top and bottom covered.

    I just don't see how you can go much smaller than seven people, unless you used vibraphone to substitute for horns, a la New Swing Sextet.

  2. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    I must agree.

    I also like the trumpet/trombone combination, and the set-up you're talking about (still can't follow links from this computer 4 some reason) sounds great.

    Don't get me wrong - I would absolutely love to have a full band (including bongos in the percussion section as well as more horns) but I'm asking just out of trying to be realistic. I think the ideas suggested in this thread have answered my question very well, and I appreciate the input.

    Anyway, I'll keep you all posted on what I (and later we) come up with. Hopefully down the road we'll have at least a YouTube vid to share. :)
  3. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Well, the thing is that now you've got me thinking... There's a bar/restaurant up the avenue from me that has a Salsa night on Wednesdays with a DJ. When I asked about getting a live band they said they were definitely interested and would like to give it a try since they have live music other nights of the week. They have a small budget so I'm thinking about how small a band I could bring in there. I'm liking the piano, bass, conga, timbale, trombone, trumpet and lead singer setup. Ideally, the singer could play guiro or maracas and two of the musicians could also sing coro.
  4. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao


    I'm glad you're seeing why I'm asking, and I hope you can get something goin'! I agree with you guys about the 7-piece set-up; at this point it does seem like that's the "minimum" I was asking about, or at least what is needed for the right sound.

    There are other reasons to think about a smaller band, too. Some of these are ppl's scheduling (work/family/etc), transporting instruments (particularly timbales and keyboard seem like they'd be hard to lug to a gig).

    But overall it seems to me that the benefits of having at least 7 ppl outweigh the challenges. In addition to having a nice sound, arranging will be a little easier than a full 15+person set-up. And if we (by "we" I mean your potential band and mine, lol) get more than 7, we can have alternates and/or a bigger coro. I think if u can get 6 other ppl who love the music and are committed to showing up, you'll probably be good 2 go! :)

    Next (relevant) topic: How often (realistically speaking) should we practice?

    Again, I'd love for this to be very often, but the logistics of it may not turn out that way. I'm thinking at least Saturday afternoons & maybe Sundays after church (I'm looking into a place with a garage lol).

    I think individually, some instruments can be practiced consistently (back in FL I spent a little - okay, a lot - of time each day practicing cuatro, piano, and of course congas). :) But as a band, what is a good way to go?
  5. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander

    Here is a clip of 5 different local bands with different sizes and sounds:

    Btw, Lets have a little competition: who can pick out the all amateur band from these clips?
  6. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    My quick $.02 after one listen. I'm giving 1-5 stars for each group, 5 stars being excellent.

    I like Charanga Tropical. They sound like they are trying to do something a little different (that first piece has something of a middle-eastern tinge). They are getting heavy into the polyrhythm thing but I'm just not sure if that's good for the dancers. I give them extra credit for originality. 3 1/2 stars.

    Malamanya needs to tighten up the vocals. That break was a train wreck. The lead singer is gorgeous and very kind to the camera. :D 2 stars.

    Salsabrosa sounds real good. I wish that trumpet player had some help with more brass/horn players (and he probably does, too) but he does a very good job by himself. 4 stars for Salsabrosa. Good band!

    Salsa del Soul is the best of the bunch, IMO. Great trombone section, tight rhythm section and vocals. That band is swinging! 5 stars.

    Tropical Zone didn't really feel like they were getting into the groove, but I didn't really get to hear enough of them to make a proper assessment. 2 stars.
  7. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander

    The hornplayer weighed in, anyone else before I reveal the answer? and before I disclose the relative popularity of the local bands ?
  8. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Aw, c'mon. Spill the beans. Now that I opened my big fat mouth. ;)
  9. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    Charanga Tropical - Their rendition of "Ran can can" was excellent. The other song, to me, seemed very disjointed. The flute did add a middle-eastern sound, shaking things up a bit, but it just didn't seem to mesh well with the percussion. - I'd say 2.5 stars.

    Malamanya - The trumpet player was great, as someone said already; the tres player also led this cool transition to a rhythm that reminds me of the guaguanco on congas. Very cool. I agree with bailar y tocar about the vocalists (including the lead, lol). I'm giving them 3.5 stars.

    BTW back to the main topic for a sec - This band reminded me of what we discussed earlier about a charanga-like sound. I'd be interested in learning more about the tres's and/or cuatro's role in arrangements; they say you can play tres lines on a cuatro (and if "tres lines" = montunos/tumbaos, that would be easy for me to do lol). I haven't heard much salsa with either of these instruments (tho some Puerto Rican guarachas have a similar rhythm). Any suggestions?

    Salsabrosa sounded awesome. They seem to have only one horn, but that didn't hold them back. The only thing I wish they had done differently was turn up the mics a bit - you could barely hear them over the other instruments. I also go with 4 stars

    Salsa del Soul (cool play-on words) had a great sound, no arguments there! I like their use of the 2 trombones; they still seem to cover the full range of notes (highs as well as lows) and their percussion section is excellent. I also give it 5 stars.

    Tropical Zone seemed pretty standard, to me; not excellent but not horrible, just kind of "there". They definitely have that uniquely salsa sound where others tended to try to sound more like son, charanga, etc. They seemed pretty right-on technically but as bailar y tocar mentioned it seems they aren't "getting into the groove". 3 stars.
  10. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I did like their piano player very much and I think she showed up in one of the other groups (Salsabrosa?).
  11. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    I think you're right - but one thing is for sure: I also agree with you that bailar y tocar should "spill the beans" (and maybe some rice & tostones too). :)
  12. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I love tostones, too (or, "patacones", as my wife calls them), but sometimes I prefer maduros. :) With chuletas. Yum.
  13. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander

    First off, the clips were filmed with a Flip Mino so I take the blame for sound issues, the bands sound better live.

    Interesting comments and on point about the bands. Here is the background:

    Salsa del Soul has been around for awhile (more than 8 years) and is the most professional of the local bands. Most of the musicians play in other bands or lead other bands, some get touring money gigs with major artists, others are on the faculty at local music schools. Notable: the female lead singer is Gloria Rivera, the daughter of famous composer Nino Rivera. They have 2 regular gigs in the suburbs, one of them is the closest salsa venue to my house so I go every time they are there.

    Salsabrosa has been around for about 5 years in their current lineup. They started out as an amateur band and then got pros to join up as the amateurs dropped out. They had a rough period when the conguero got a little out of control and kept songs going for more than 10 minutes (for every song!). The band is still suffering from that bad rep even though they don't do that anymore. Notable: the female piano player is Viviana Pintado who was a 3x Grammy Nominee when she lived in Miami and played with Albita. she is a graduate of the top music school in Havana.

    Charanga Tropical, La Gran Charanga and the latin jazz ensemble Seven Steps to Havana are projects by Doug Little (the flute and sax player). They never seem to be able to get a regular weekly gig even though they are the 2nd most popular salsa band in town behind Salsa del Soul. Notable: Doug Little is the only local band leader who can also organize events and work with the craziest line up of musicians and make it work. He should be a producer but I guess he doesn't have the time since he wants to play instead.

    As others noted, Tropical Zone is a so-so band, nothing special. Their regular gig is at a neighborhood restaurant that had a really cool vibe for awhile even though the band's sound wasn't quite up to that level. That is gone and who knows whats next. Charanga Tropical is starting up a gig on the same night within a few miles of the Tropical Zone venue. The new gig has a lower cover, is in a really nice venue and the band is better. Advantage Charanga Tropical.

    So last but not in the least bit least: Malamanya. They are the new kids on the block with the fresh sound. They started up this summer and have been playing for tips and beer money in this venue barely larger than a living room. The lead vocalist is phenomenal and I love the tres. I am pretty sure they will tighten up their transitions. I heard Tropical Zone and Salsabrosa when they started out and Malamanya is already ahead of where those bands were in their early days.

    I didn't get to record several other local bands because they perform in a venue that I don't like (Sensacion Latina) or because they don't have regular gigs (Havana HiFi, Sofrito, K-Libre 24).
  14. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Thank you, bailar y tocar. Looks like you have a very lively scene there.

    I'll have to check out more of Viviana Pintado. She worked with Albita? Excellent.

    Hope I wasn't too harsh on Malamanya. If they are a very new band then time spent playing together a lot will only bring growth and improvement. Even for pro bands it takes some time to gel. I like the tres, too. The breaks will tighten up as they rehearse and play more and more and hopefully the backing vocals will too (some intonation issues there). The young lady certainly has a lot of charisma and talent -- she seems very confident in front of the band which is really important for a singer. I wish them well.

    Thanks for sharing your local scene!
  15. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    Gee, a band named Sofrito playing Salsa... idk which we like more; the music or the food :p

    All joking aside, thanks for shaing that, bailar y tocar. Very cool.
  16. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

  17. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    I mean first we were talking about tostones (ok that one was my fault lol) but with names like salsabrosa and sofrito, it's kind of hard not to. :)
    jr1308 likes this.
  18. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander

    K-Libre 24 now has a regular gig and I have clip. They are tight plus a better clip of Charanga Tropical as well. Nothing on the other 3 just yet.
    K-Libre 24 is a band formed about 7 months with mostly musicians who split off from Tropical Zone who were featured in the earlier compilation that I posted here.

    This is a full clip of a song by Charanga Tropical who were also on the 1st compilation.
  19. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    Thanks for the links, can't wait to check these out!

    I'm glad this topic came up again though. The more of these I see and hear, the more ideas I get for the band lol. :D
  20. jr1308

    jr1308 Son

    There was a Sofrito in the Netherlands named after the Mongo Santamaria-song. They began as a workshop-band under the guidance of PR-bass-player/multi-instrumentalist Leslie Lopez who was quoted "They could've been professionals, but chose not to be" upon their indendancy. Sofrito existed from 2004 to 2012 and were known for organising outdoor boat-gigs on Queens' Day and benefits for Colombia. In september 2014 they reunited to play a four song-support slot .

    The Music School of Amsterdam planned to launch a Salsabrosa, an adults-only band in addition to the junior latin-department; due to lack of interest the project was cancelled as quickly as it was announced. I'd just took up the fine art of conga-playing which, as far as salsa concerns, resulted in annual open workshops and minor guest-appearances with befriended outfits (conga, bongo, maracas). Playing dance-classics and instrumentals by crossover-band New Cool Collective (featuring Leslie Lopez) doesn't hurt either.

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