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The Latin Bass Issue – Luís Ángel El Papa Pastor

Luís Ángel El Papa Pastor, The Soul of Carlos Vives Band and Bass Vallenato Fusión

BMM Please share with us a little of your personal background…

LAEPP I was born and raised in a village called Villanueva in the Department of La Guajira in Colombia. My musical beginnings started in a very empirical way, playing guitar with neighborhood friends. The first instrument I picked was the guitar, but then a good buddy of mine recommended I study electric bass guitar, since in the region there were few bassists and this was something that would help me a lot to develop a musical career. That was how my first acoustic guitar became my first bass, when I put on larger gauge strings.

BMM What was your first bass, and how did you come by it?

LAEPP My first one was a 4-string Steinberger bass guitar that I bought on my first trip to New York with the group ‘Binomio de Oro.’

BMM Tell us about that very first day you had a bass in your hands.

LAEPP The first time was difficult since I was coming from practicing on my acoustic guitar, and I did not know how to mute the chords and I was not use to the “noise-fest” that would kick in… basically the first time was messy and uncontrollable.

BMM As a bassist born in Latin America, do you find this to be an advantage or disadvantage?

LAEPP I believe that being born in Latin America is an advantage. In my particular case, the region of Colombia where I was born was always influenced by the music coming from Cuba, the Caribbean, Africa and Mexico, and it was in this region were Vallenato music was conceived; a great privilege to be born in this area.

BMM What are your main musical and bass influences?

LAEPP Rangel Maño Torres (R.I.P.) and Jose Vazquez are the first bassists I began to study; they are the pillars of Vallenato. Later names such as Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke came along, and much of African music, Salsa and Merengue.

BMM How do you define the music style you play?

LAEPP My style is a result of listening to all kinds of genres and always being willing to learn; this has lead me to explore new paths.

BMM How important is reading and studying music theory?

LAEPP Although in Vallenato, the music I get to work on does not require the use of sheet music, I do consider it essential to read music. Although I am not good at ‘first-sight’ reading skills, reading music has helped me much throughout my career as an autodidact.

BMM What do you consider the differences that technology and the Internet have made for you as a musician, compared to the previous generations that didn’t have these tools?

LAEPP I think that unlike previous generations, technology and the Internet have helped me get direct access to the music of the world; these tools are sources for my constant learning and I try to continually take advantage of them.

BMM Tell us about your gear.

LAEPP Currently, to study at home, I use my Phil Jones Bass, and for live shows I like to use Ampeg amps or Aguilar.

My basses are:

  • Roscoe LG 6-string
  • Roscoe Century Fretless 5-string
  • Alleva Coppolo, LG 5-strings

And I am sponsored by Bajos Xclusivos

BMM Who are your favorite Latin American bassists?

LAEPP Among my favorite Latin Bass players are:

  • Jose Vazquez
  • Ruben Rodriguez
  • Abraham Laboriel
  • Sal Cuevas
  • Oscar Stagnaro

BMM Please leave some motivational and encouraging words for the next generation of Latin American bassists.

LAEPP To all my bass player friends in Latin America, a big hug. We have great tools to learn today and we cannot neglect to keep learning; discipline is the fuel for the engine of the talent God has given us.

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