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Kevin Moore - Beyond Salsa Piano - Vol. 6 - Melón Lewis 1

Beyond Salsa Piano - The Cuban Timba Piano Revolution - by Kevin Moore - Vol. 6

Beginning with Volume 6, each volume will focus on the work of a specific Cuban pianist. In most cases, the notation and audio are derived from performances by the pianist in question, captured on a MIDI-compatible keyboard.

Iván "Melón" Lewis was a central player in one of the most important bands of the entire timba era, the Issac Delgado Group of 1995-1998. He and bassist Alain Pérez arguably took the art of tumbao playing to its highest level of creativity and sophistication to date. All of the timba piano innovations detailed in Volume 5 can be found in Melón's work and some of them originated with him.

Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of both Melón's and Alain's playing was their ability to improvise continuously within a dance music groove. The live concerts of Issac Delgado during this era were highlighed by about 20 extraordinary 10 to 20 minute arrangements which offered more variation and improvisation more from night to night than the performances of any other timba band with the possible exception of the Paulito FG of the same period. As such, each song becomes a course of study unto itself, beginning with the basic tumbaos and extending to variation, secondary tumbaos and all manner of gear-related variations, resulting in four complete volumes of the Beyond Salsa Piano series being devoted exclusively to Melón.

Chapter 1  is a brief biography and discography.

Chapter 2 revisits the concept of rhythm section gears that we introduced in Volume 5, applying it to the specific Issac Delgado Group that Melón played and recorded with.

Chapter 3 discusses the role of chord progressions and generic tumbaos in both salsa and timba, explains Melón's octave fingering technique, introduces Melón & Alain's unique approach to muela gear, and begins our survey of the epic live concert vehicles for which Melón, Issac and Alain were so famous. Each arrangement requires an extensive analysis and includes multiple tumbaos, variations and exercises. Volume 6 covers two of Issac's greatest masterpieces, No me mires a los ojos and La vida sin esperanza.

Sample Tumbao from Volume 6:

Beyond Salsa Piano - The Cuban Timba Piano Revolution - by Kevin Moore

Audio - Full Speed

Audio - Slow Motion

Chapter 4, "Understanding Melón's Open Montuno Style", explains the timba concept of the open montuno section and the extraordinary amount of freedom and creative that this historic group was able to derive from it.

In Volumes 6, 7, 8 and 9, we'll cover every major arrangement that Melón regularly played  live with the Delgado group. We will eventually also offer a video series with Melón playing all the examples as notated and then adding additional improvised variations. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011, 03:32 AM