Siempre Latino Bass Transcription
Siempre Latino Bass Transcription: “Siempre Latino” is the triumphant anthem of Gerardo Contino’s debut album Somos Latinos.
The record sports some heavy hitters in the New York scene and is a great example of a Timba rhythm section at work in its most up to date form.
The song is in 3-2 clave and features John Benitez on Ampeg Baby bass. As the title suggests, the song is a celebration of the wide variety and contrast that exists throughout Latin American culture. The song’s verses actually utilize a Columbian Cumbia groove, however after each verse a ferocious timba chorus kicks in, eventually engulfing the rest of the arrangement.
Benitez takes advantage of the baby bass’s tubby tone and quick decay to good use by incorporating a lot of space into his lines.
The first four bars set up the simple blueprint that John uses to form most of the basslines during the song’s timba sections. Notice his landing points, usually on beat four of the three side and the “and” of four on the 2 side of the clave. You may also notice the eerie resemblance to the first exercise in this chapter. Here we have the same idea at work in a real-time situation. As discussed earlier, this sets up the basic framework in which one can create whatever he/she wants in between.
Like many other transcriptions in this book, John rarely sticks to any kind of repeated ostinato but rather with this clave-aligned framework in mind he is able to create a whole slew of basslines with an almost infinite level of variation and creativity. It is this form of thinking that allows Benitez to groove so relentlessly while rarely playing the same idea twice. It’s almost taking the concept of theme and development to the next step where the theme is not as obvious and development is almost a starting point versus a point of departure.
While all of the examples on this book share this common trait, these two examples demonstrate this concept in a more exaggerated from.
Unlike in salsa, this style of playing is not uncommon in Timba. Players such as Franks Rubio, Feliciano Arrango and Alain Perez have utilized a similar concept since the 1990s. This style, in which the bassline is constantly changing within the context of the piano and percussion, is akin to what James Jamerson was doing on R&B hits such as “What’s goin’ on” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”. The concept is almost soloistic in nature giving the bassline a life of its own that is all the more unpredictable.
This Siempre Latino 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!