La Chica Red Bull Bass Transcription
La Chica Red Bull Bass Transcription: Like “Siempre Latino”, “La Chica Red Bull” is another track from Gerardo Contino’s album Somos Latinos. The track is a state of the art example of timba bass in full flight. This is 3:53 of bass bliss. John Benitez’s fearless; “play at all costs” approach is in full swing on this arrangement and he doesn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops throughout.
Contrary to “Siempre Latino”, in which Benitez takes a more minimalistic approach, “La Chica Red Bull” features playing of a much higher degree of rhythmic density.
He weaves and worms his way through the tune, constantly alternating between fingerstyle and slap and of course never being pattern-oriented or predictable. His playing is often laced with gospel-influenced fills peppered with slippery articulations that provide a perfect match for Axel Laugart’s serendipitously similar keyboard style. All in all, there is little he leaves alone on this song with each note given “just a little extra” to make it special.
Another interesting device used in this example is John’s subtle displacement of phrases that would normally occur on beat one in most timba basslines.
Each is a quarter-note figure on the two side of the clave and consists of the intervals 1-5-8 or 1-5-10. While these figures are very common in timba Benitez displaces them one beat ahead or on beat four of the previous measure instead of on beat one. Once again we have yet another example of John bringing something fresh and unique to an already exciting style of bass playing.
In transcribing Benitez’s bass parts, it is often alarming to see how much he is really doing in the course of one song.
While simply listening to the music, his parts seem to fit seamlessly into the context of which he is playing. However, when looking at his parts in written form you can really get an idea of the almost unlimited vocabulary and creativity that he has.
An entire bass method book could be written based on the content that John injects into this track.
However, what is important to pay attention to in this track as well as “Siempre Latino” is his approach to clave alignment. Cuban Timba has some of the most overt clave aligned bass parts in Afro Latin music and therefore is a great study for any bassist trying to learn more about clave and how it works. These two tracks were chosen for this book partly due to their opposing clave direction in order to demonstrate the subtle differences in playing in 2-3 versus 3-2.
As stated over and over again, there are many lessons to take away from these two songs as well as all the other transcriptions in this book.
While the minute details of what John plays on these recordings are important to pay attention to, it is also crucial to look at the big picture. Although each track is an entity unto itself, none of them were created in a vacuum. Regardless of the style or context, each bassline and solo is an extension of an overall approach. In the case of every master musician, every note they play is forged from a lifetime of influences and life experiences. No matter what, John’s voice shines through in a very complete and personal way.
This La Chica Red Bull bass Transcription and article are an excerpt from the first book John and I collaborated on in 2015 Freedom in the Clave. Stay tuned for many more transcription videos to come!