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Ben met Dr. Michael White on the Mall in Washington DC back in the Summer of 1985. They struck up a conversation that day and within a couple years, after Ben relocated to New Orleans, they became fast friends. Now, over 30 years later, they have finally made their first recording together!
The selection, a cumbia titled "Tolú," was written and originally recorded by the great Colombian clarinetist and bandleader Lucho Bermúdez and his Orchestra. Cumbia music, Bermúdez' stock in trade, originates among the Afro-Latin people along Columbia's Caribbean coast and this tune's title refers to a town in that region.
The number opens with a dialogue between the trumpets and the saxophones before turning the stage over to the clarinets, Michael and Ben, riffing in G minor. After a repeat of the form, Dr. White takes off on an ad lib solo with the midhorns punctuating in accompaniment and Boyanna urging him on with the tenor drum. The band gradually builds behind the soloist, adding saxophones and then trumpets, to the point where, just as they are closing in, the clarinets join up and slide into more G minor riffing, which then dissolves into diminished chords. At that moment the trumpets announce a return to the out-head after which Michael gets the last word atop an extended minor chord to bring the whole party to an end.
Special thanks to Matt Knowles, propietor at Domino Sound, a record store on Bayou Road, who slipped Ben a Lucho Bermúdez cassette several years ago and said, "y'all should play some of this stuff."
Thanks also to Davis Rogan in whose "man-cave" this session was recorded. See also our August 2016 release, "Blue Star Jubilee" which was also recorded that day.
from Song-of-the-Month Club: Good Music For You
track released October 1, 2016
Music written by Lucho Bermúdez and arranged by Ben Schenck
and Michael White
Dr. Michael White + Ben Schenck - Clarinets
Aurora Nealand + Tomas Majcherski - Alto Saxophones
Dan Oestreicher - Baritone and tenor Saxophones
Jack Pritchett + Reid Poole - Trumpets
JR Hankins - Fluegel Horn
Shaye Cohn, John Gerken + Matt Schreiber - Tenor Horns
Steve Glenn - Tuba
Boyanna Trayanova - Tenor Drum
Chris Davis - Bass Drum
Ben Schenck - Shaker and guiro overdubs
Session engineered by Michael Seaman at Davis Rogan's practice
space in historic Treme, New Orleans, LA.
Edited by Lu Rojas and Ben Schenck. Percussion overddubs
recorded by Lu Rojas at Oak Street Recording, New Orleans, LA
Mixed and mastered by Don Godwin at Airshow, Takoma Park, MD
all rights reserved