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The Latin Pulse with Michael Lazarus: On Tour with Luis Enrique & Issac Delgado: An Interview with Bassist YORGIS GOIRICELAYA

Yorgis Goiricelaya performs with Issac Delgado @ the 2008 San Francisco Jazz Festival

Meet Michael Lazarus

*as translated from a Spanish language dialog

Among the nominees for the Best Tropical Latin Album category for the upcoming 52nd Grammy Awards on January 31, 2010 are Así Soy by Issac Delgado and Ciclos by Luis Enrique. Both of these internationally acclaimed vocalists and band leaders have a key person in common managing the low frequencies
bassist Yorgis Goiricelaya.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba and then emigrating to Costa Rica and finally the U.S.A., Yorgis has performed with Issac Delgado for the last two and a half years. Highlights with Issac include the 2008 San Francisco Jazz Festival (click for photos), Miami’s Cuba Global Fest and festivals in Aspen and the Bahamas.

He joined Luis Enrique early last year where he is also responsible for writing all the sheet music for the band. The charts for the band cover the current line-up of piano, bass, two trumpets, trombone, tenor sax, percussion and guitar. Performance highlights include stadium shows in the US, Venezuela, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

BMM: Given the same four bar chord sequence, are you playing a certain way to differentiate your sound between both bands?

Yorgis: In most cases I’ve heard a song before we rehearse it and I adapt my playing to match the style of the song. Along with that I always find ways to insert my own signature. Other times the charts are handed to us fresh and we have to read it down. In those cases I listen to what the piano and percussion are doing and play what I believe best matches their movements. Now with Issac’s older material that is hard-core timba, which has more aggressive bass movement, I am at liberty to be more free. During the verses however I am playing in a very traditional style because that’s what the arrangement calls for. Luis also likes timba so I find myself using similar concepts in both groups.

Now it’s my opinion that the main factors differentiating those two styles -salsa and timba- are the piano and bass movements. That’s where the strongest difference lies. If you listen to a group DLG, which was developed by Issac’s producer Sergio George, a group that played commercial salsa, they have the percussion playing in a very similar way as modern Cuban music. However, by maintaining established patterns for the bass and piano, then that group remains categorized in the Salsa genre. The bass movement is more repetitive and stable. Timba has more movement but the ideas are more like loops -to play a rhythmic idea no matter what the harmony is. Then the bass can change when you get to the mambo or a new chorus. But in terms of structure, even though the bass moves more, it’s not that I’m doing whatever I want every measure or two measures.

Click here to listen to Yorgis sing this example

BMM: So you are making a short melody over two or four claves?

Yorgis: Yes that would be the approach for the chorus sections. Note that we are talking about when the chorus part begins in a timba song, because when the song begins, the bass palys in a traditional style over the verse (the “cuerpo”).

BMM: Many are aware that in timba there are many more changes in the arrangement. Are these type of effects or gears used in both bands?

Yorgis: I’m a bit more conservative with Luis but yeah we use gears in both bands. We use what we call the “mazacote”, which is the use of percussive glissandos over the piano tumbao, “pedales” or pedal tones and with Luis more we use “substitutions”.

BMM: Could you elaborate a bit more regarding these substitions?

Yorgis: These are ad-lib harmonic variations. For example if we are in C major, say a two bar pattern |C F|G F|, all major chords, then I make a movement in fourths to come back to the tonic. So then the four bar chord changes are |C F|G F|Em A7|Dm7 G7|. Let me play some piano so you can hear it.

Click here to listen to Yorgis play this example

Now the idea is that the pianist is in on this, so that he can provide support to the substitution. However if he misses the cues or decides not to play it then the bass is still in harmony and it does not clash.

BMM: Now, you call this cue or does the pianist call it? Who decides? What’s the signal?

Yorgis: Either one, whoever has it in their head at the moment. We can arrange it so that it happens in a certain spot in a song, but once you’ve done it more than once or twice, then you get into a habit of playing it there because you’ll feel the need for it. But it’s a fine line because you can’t over do it and significantly alter the arrangement. We do it in a way so that it doesn’t clash with the rest of the band or the percussion. Here check this out I’m going to play you another one with the regular chords first and then the substitution. This is for “Loco” from Issac.

Click here to listen to Yorgis play this example

So here we started with an 8 bar pattern |C |C |F |F |G |G#dim |Am |Dm G7| and then the second time around I play a G in the bass, throw in a substitution and then follow through with the original chords again. Like this: |C/G |F#13 |F |F |G |G#dim |Am |Dm G7|. And I play that G and then F#13 as pedal tones.

BMM: And how would you use the glissandos over this progression?

Yorgis: Then I would place a call by playing an inverted glissando (going higher in pitch instead of lower) on the bar before, in order to invite the coming mazacote, and then and play the mazacote effect starting on the first bar of the profgression. Like this:

Click here to listen to Yorgis play this example

BMM: Ok I’ve written out the basic rhythm. Is this right? (Click to view large)

Yorgis: Aha that’s it. It’s important to listen for the holes in the percussion and piano and try to fill those. These movements are derived from listening to rumba. It’s very much based on the feeling for that particular song.

BMM: Thank you Yorgis. Any final comments?

Yorgis: Yes. Please visit my official website www.yorgismusic.com and if anyone has any questions or wants more information please contact me at yorgismusic [at] yahoo [dot] com .

Thanks Mike.

Credits:
– Photos used by permission from Yorgis & Tom Ehrlich of TIMBA.com.
– Transcription by Michael Lazarus, author of the TIMBA Style Bass Vol.1 method book.
– All content ©2010 Michael P. Lazarus

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