It’s that time of year (at least for the team at Radial which is located in Western Canada) where we buckle down to endure the cold that winter always assuredly brings. What better time to touch base with the ultra-talented, Cuban born bassist Carlitos Del Puerto whose career is as hot as his native country’s habanero pepper on the Scoville scale. We’re warming up already!
It seems the warmth of Cuba followed Del Puerto to the States. He moved to Los Angeles in 1996: “I was a little bit known due to my father (renowned Cuban bass player Carlos Del Puerto) and also because I recorded a few albums in Cuba that were very popular here in the US. ‘Cubanismo’ was one of them, but this was only in the Latin scene. Afterward I branched out to other styles – the city I was in was especially good for what I wanted to do.” Del Puerto quickly grew a resume that included playing with Springsteen, Sting, Quincy Jones and, his idol Chick Corea. “I basically started my career learning his music, but to have the chance to actually play with him goes beyond my wildest dreams.”
Those dreams that began in his youth were well supported: “Growing up in Cuba was a blessing. Cuba is a country with a very rich culture, painters, sculptors, writers and especially musicians. There is music and great musicians everywhere. I had the great fortune to be born into a very artistic household. My mother Maria Llera was a dancer/producer in many shows in Havana and my father, Carlos Del Puerto, was the bass player for Irakere, and also responsible for the modern way of Cuban bass playing.”
Del Puerto is also, of course, grateful for his steady career: “Well, thank God I keep busy. I never take it for granted. I just finished Billy Childs’ record for Sony Masterworks. The music of Laura Nyro, produced by Larry Klein features lots of singers, Renee Fleming, Chaka Khan, Fiona Apple, Esperanza Spalding, Lisa Fischer, Alison Krauss and a few more.”
Some of Del Puerto’s latest work can also be heard on the small and large screens. This includes a national commercial campaign for Honda, featuring vocalist Michael Bolton. The current ad in cycle features the singer rocking it in the snow crooning “It’s a winter wonderland, the snow’s gonna blow, blow, blow.” Del Puerto’s other recent project heads us right back to the sun (whew!): “I also worked on the soundtrack of the film Last Vegas. It was a blast, lots of fun. I was invited by my dear friend Scott Healy, great pianist, to work with him and composer Mark Mothersbaugh on the tracks. It was recorded live, just organ, drums and bass, the old school way. Loved it…..nothing like playing with other musicians and getting that beautiful energy live in the studio. Even more fun is when you go to the movies and hear your work on a great sound system and finally getting to see the movie and enjoy the whole experience… FUN.”
Del Puerto is currently in New York working with Max Weinberg’s Big Band and then heads out on the road for a six month tour with Chick Corea and his new band The Vigil. Del Puerto says he is road ready as he packs along his Radial PZ-DI. “I have been using the PZ-DI on the road with Chick Corea, and also with David Sanborn, and Bob James. Hands down the PZ-DI is the best DI I have ever used on my instruments, it does not affect my sound in any way, it complements it. It gives me all the headroom and clarity that I need, yet is compact and portable, a breeze to travel with. The main feature on the PZ-DI that I love is the switchable input impedance: I can switch between 220k, 1meg and 10 meg-ohms. This is really important to me because it lets me optimize my electric bass and especially my double bass to get the full spectrum of the sound. It has amazing lows, defined mids, and beautiful highs – giving me a full command over my sound. – also it has a low cut filter that comes in super handy when playing in boomy rooms… I LOVE IT.”
Del Puerto will tour with Chick Corea and The Vigil extensively from April through October 2014. The tour stops in some cold spots but it’s certain Del Puerto will heat up every stage he plays.