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The Music of Ritmo Oriental - 1974-First LP of the 70s

Ritmo Oriental's First Album of the 70s
cuban music, musica cubana
Areíto LD-3461 (1974) (collection of Rob Holland)

cuban music, musica cubana
The CA-954-955 Sessions

CA954 El que no sabe, sabe Roberto Núñez Povea s LD3461
CA954 Quisiera amarte de verdad Ramiro Reyes b LD3461
CA954 Adiós, no estoy loco Humb. Perera/Lazaga s LD3461
CA954 Hoy mi día triste Juan Crespo Maza b LD3461
CA954 Mi socio Manolo Juan Crespo Maza gu-s LD3461
CA954 Tema R.D.A. Caña Ramiro Reyes   LD3461
         
CA955  Se perdió mi amor Juan Crespo Maza gu-s LD3461
CA955  Déjame demonstrate Ramiro Reyes b LD3461
CA955  María baila el son Rolando Vergara bch-s LD3461
CA955  Canto a la felicidad Enrique Lazaga gj-s LD3461
CA955  La señora perorata Juan Crespo Maza s LD3461
Songs in red had previously been recorded in the CA-718 sessions.

As you can see from our discography, La Ritmo's first full LP in the new style was released in 1974 between Los Van Van's second and third albums.

It was recorded in two sessions. Five of the songs, (shown above in red), had already been recorded, but apparently never released, at the CA-718 session, and were covered in the previous section Now we move on to the songs that were recorded for the first time in 1974.

1974 Ritmo Oriental - El que no sabe, sabe (Roberto Núñez)
xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0
2-3 rumba clave
0x00 0xx0 x0x0 xx0x

0x00 0xx0 x0x0 x0x0
bass - MIDI
bass: Humberto Perera
source: La historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1

notes: It took a long time for the rest of the world to catch up with Arsenio's liberating idea of extending the length of the bass tumbao beyond a single clave in length, but the idea was definitely not lost on the young Humberto Perera, who blends in some funky R&B chromaticism in the process.

This arrangement has an almost textbook example of con efecto that's easy to hear:

0x00 0xxx xxx0 0x0x
0x00 0xxx xxx0 xx0
x

0
x00 0xxx xxx0 0x0x

0x00 0xxx xxx0 xx0
x breakdown bass tumbao
0x00 0xxx xxxx xxxx percussion and tempo stop at x
0xx0 xx0x x0xx 0x0x
con efecto bloque audio

Explanation: The previous section (represented by the first 4 lines) is in Ritmo Oriental's "breakdown gear" where the piano and strings drop out. In the 5th line, the bass tumbao stops on the first back beat while the percussion continues, in time, and then stops right on the second backbeat. Then the bloque comes in at a much slower tempo. This time there's no abanico to bring the band back to full tempo - the whole rhythm section seems to be controlled by a single force!

Pop quiz: Can you spot why this example of con efecto is "almost textbook"?

Answer: The most common way to exit normal tempo and enter con efecto is for the percussion to stop on the backbeat of the 2-side. Here it stops on the backbeat of the 3-side.

1974 Ritmo Oriental - Adiós no estoy loco (Perera-Lazaga)
xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0
2-3 rumba clave
0xx0 0x0x xxx0 0000
bass - MIDI example
bass: Humberto Perera
source: La historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1

notes: Humberto Perera was one of La Ritmo's principal arrangers but this is the first song he co-wrote. The cuerpo has abundance of creative hooks in succession, alternating between sections of dark rock and blues motivo figures and contrasting explosions of beautiful, original chord progressions, each featuring its own interesting bass figure. The fourth section of the cuerpo was borrowed almost verbatim by future la Ritmo violinist David Calzado for Charanga Habanera's Otra mujer from the 2003 Soy cubano soy popular album. It's even in the same key! CH's Sombrilla also probably borrowed his trademark interjection "Eh??" from Mi socio manolo, although I've heard it claimed (but not proven) that they both stole it from Beny Moré.

This is also one of the few Ritmo Oriental songs that has an unusual piano tumbao (or one that's prominent in the mix for that matter). After the usual breakdown to bass and percussion, the piano enters with a tumbao that mimics the rhythm of the "walking bass" we heard in Se perdio el amor. Piano tumbaos are primarily composed of offbeats, but this one has none at all (0x0x 0x0x 0x0x 0x0x).

1974 Ritmo Oriental- Tema R.D.A. (Ramiro Reyes)
xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0
2-3 rumba clave
xxx0 00x0 x0x0 xx0x
bass - MIDI example
bass: Humberto Perera
source: La historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1

notes: The opening tumbao is related melodically to the coro and also has the unusual quality (for this genre) of not hitting the downbeat. At the end of this excerpt is the transitional to a strange but beautiful section at a much slower tempo. The transition back to speed at the beginning of our second excerpt leads to the first section we've encountered from any our three bands that's based on the bombo-ponche bass tumbao (xxx0 xx0x). The chord progression, I - IV - V - IV, is the most common in Latin music -- La bamba, Guantanamera, Pare cochero ... on and on. One could say that I - IV - V - IV is to Latin music what the 12-bar blues is to North American music. Humberto improvises all around it, showing a mastery of a style he almost never used with la Ritmo (at least at this early point). The 70s were almost completely dominated by melodic guajeo-based bass tumbaos, and almost every track was in 2-3 clave. This changed drastically in the 80s, but remember - we're still in 1974.

cuban music, musica cubanaTema R.D.A. was left off of the original LP, and released, possibly for the first time, on La historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1. Perhaps its creation -- and omission --had something to do with politics. R.D.A. stands for República Democrática Alemania - at that time, communist East Germany. Machetero, meaning literally "one who wields a machete" could have the political connotation of the hammer and sickle while also referring to Lazaga's wicked güiro playing. If you figure it out, contact us!

1974 Ritmo Oriental- María baila el son (Rolando Vergara)
xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0
2-3 rumba clave
xxx0 xx0x xxx0 xx0x
bombo-ponche bass tumbao
bass: Humberto Perera
source: La historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1

notes: The main tumbao is the second most common chord progression in Latin music -- a one chord jam with a bombo-ponche bass. Humberto stretches out, playing various combinations of the standard device of doubling the bombo (xxx0 0x0x) and doubling the ponche (xxx0 xx00), and adding all sorts of funky virtuosic fills.

Saturday, 12 October 2013, 06:32 PM