Luis Gasca: For Those Who Chant:
The Mission District’s Bitches Brew.
Recorded Columbia Studios: 17 & 18th August 1971
Finding Latino Rock records in the early 1970’s
As a young kid about 14 years old, I discovered the original Santana band. When the 3rd album was released in October 1971, I did not think anything of walking to Beggars Banquet, a hip record store (then) situated in Ealing Broadway. Ealing was a suburb of West London; it was a good 4 or 5 miles walk from my house in Hanwell, which was also located in West London. I bought Santana 3 a few days before the UK release, the US releases seemed much better; they had much thicker card which was used on the album covers with sleeve foldouts and heavier vinyl on the US Columbia label. (Our CBS releases in the UK seemed thinner in the actual vinyl on the records and thinner in album packaging) and I just couldn’t wait the extra week to hear it. It was a very mind blowing recording, a towering selection of underground cuts that was a Number One Billboard seller. Since then I have had the pleasure of writing the sleeve notes to the Santana 3rd album CD reissue released as a deluxe two x CD set in 2005.
This was thanks to the auspices of original keyboardist and lead vocalist Gregg Rolie.
Shortly after buying Santana 3, I walked up again to Beggars Banquet and Steve Webbon who worked there (and who had been an art student at Ealing School Of Art, where I also had been studying art and design) showed me another beautifully designed album, with a white cover and a very nice artwork of a Negress/goddess with a rose floating over her Afro’d head. I was immediately interested in the sleeve visually and then Steve dropped the bombshell, “All the original Santana band are on this recording”.
Actually David Brown, Santana’s bassist was missing but all the others were there, plus Lenny White, Stanley Clark and a battery (literally) of percussionists, eleven in all.
I was intrigued by the music as Steve put the vinyl on over the shop’s speakers, it was Miles-like but had strong Latin rhythms and I had become aware of Luis Gasca’s hot trumpet flourishes from Para Los Rumberos on the preceding Santana 3rd album. I believe that I heard the Luis release on around December 1971 or early 1972 on Blue Thumb Records. The recording has always stayed with me as a really deep and important piece of music, edited from long jams that were recorded at the Columbia Studios in Folsom Street, San Francisco on the 17th and 18th August 1971.
During writing the book Voices of Latin Rock, it was not possible to contact Luis but since then, I have had the pleasure to correspond with him and he has shed much light on this epochal recording made in those heady days when Santana was ruling the airwaves and the album charts worldwide.
I am also indebted to Abel Zarate for further detailed interview information, Jeffry Trager for added spice as he worked at Blue Thumb and also frequented Andres Club on Broadway, where “hellacious jams” occurred according to Greg Errico.
I would like to thank also Victor Aleman for some rare photos of Luis and Joe Henderson and Bernie Arriaga (co-owner of Andres Club) from back in the day.
Victor also supplied a subsequent telephone interview from Los Angeles and other extraordinary photos from back in those heady days.
Thanks also to Mark Levine, renowned keyboardist (one of four keyboard players at and on the sessions) who although not entirely sure of certain details, shed further light on these sessions.
I tried to contact Carmelo Garcia, who is not dead as I was led to believe, but living somewhere in L.A. or maybe New York City.
Michael Carabello supplied me with a cassette when I first met him in 1991 in Fairfax, California from his personal reel – to – reel tapes from these Columbia Studio sessions. I thank him retrospectively for that, as it is great to hear the initial un-dubbed sessions with false starts and no tribal vocals plus the extra pieces of unreleased further jamming in the studio.
I would like to thank Michael Shrieve for casting an eye over the interview and adding his reminiscences and comments. Thank you all gentlemen!
STEREO VINYL LP!
Luis Gasca: Luis Gasca! 1971 Blue Thumb Release!
Luis Gasca (Trumpet & Flugelhorn);
Joe Henderson (Tenor Saxophone);
Carlos Santana, Neal Schon,
Abel Zarate (Guitars);
George Cables, Gregg Rolie, Mark Levine
(Piano, Electric Piano);
Richard Kermode (Organ);
Lenny White, Michael Shrieve (Drums);
Stanley Clark (Bass);
Victor Pantoja, Mike Carabello (Congas);
Carmelo Garcia, Coke Escovedo (Timbales);
Rico Reyes, Snooky Flowers (Percussion).
Jose “Chepito” Areas; Vibes
Joan Macgregor, Garnett Mimms; Percussions.
A1. Street Dude (11:40);
A2. La Raza (8:03);
B1. Spanish Gypsy (15:07);
B2. Little Mama (5:28).
Artwork By [Painting Of Front And Back Cover] – Phillip Lindsay Mason
Photography – Victor Aleman
Producer [For David Rubinson & Friends, Inc., San Francisco] – Luis Gasca.
Supervised By [Production] – Stan Marcum
Recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, San Francisco August 17 & 18, 1971
Mixed at Wally Heider Recording, San Francisco
Dedicated to Gonzales Mares Garza “with little birds and flowers”, 1902 – December 25, 1971
For Those Who Chant Interviews —
Luis Gasca was a scenester and musician-about-town in 1971 in San Francisco. He jumped the Santana train through the auspices of percussionista Coke Escovedo, played horn and was very influential as the horn section with Roy Murray (see earlier interview with Roy on this site) on the debut Malo disc. He also recorded For Those Who Chant, which is the main thrust of this piece.
Luis remembered his introduction to this exhilarating, fomenting situation, “I had met the Santana band while I was part of the Kosmic Blues Band with Janis Joplin at Woodstock, they were unknown at that time and on they’re way to becoming very, very famous. Janis was very popular at that time and being a Latino along with Carlos, Chepito, Mike Carabello and Fito Parra (the drummer for Canned Heat) we sort of bonded you might say several years before the For Those Who Chant recording.
I had played on the 3rd (Santana 3) and 4th (Carlos Santana and Buddy Miles Live) Santana albums and became good friends with Stan Marcum, whom I considered very smart and he had some very good and different ideas for a person that had little experience in the band and recording business, also another quality I saw in him, which is also very rare in the record business, was that he was not greedy. He was very fair and not an egomaniac like people I had worked with, like Albert Grossman (manager of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin) also Joe Dorn (who ran the affairs of Roberta Flack and Freddie Hubbard) and a wannabe musician, “you will never work in this town again type of dick head”, namely David Rubinson.
Because of Stan’s fairness, I, Victor Pantoja, Hadley Caliman, all received royalties from the Santana and Buddy Miles album. Stan never received the credit he deserved and unfortunately lost his position during the original Santana band disagreements and Bill Graham’s power trips.
I will forever be indebted to and miss Stan and like many of us at that time he had “his demons”.
Does anyone know what happened to Stan?
(Stan Marcum never overcame his alcohol and drug demons and died in 2010 I believe, according to what Herbie Herbert told me. There was an obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, this information was also relayed to me by Herbie – Jim note).
I asked Luis about the “Chant” recording and how it came about?
Stan lent me $7.000 to get started and he got the studio time the engineers, etc, and helped get the Santana guys to be part of the musical trip. Mike Carabello and Michael Shrieve and also Carlos at one time or another, helped me when I managed Andres Club in North Beach along with Bernie Arriaga.
(See Victor Aleman’s photo of Gasca and Arriaga with Eddie Palmeiri – Jim note).
While working with Mongo Santamaria in 1967 we recorded an album with David Rubinson before he became the San Francisco based “infant terrible” ha, ha!!
After the success of the first Malo record, I took my recorded tape to David and with the bargaining power of the Santana name he got me a contract with Blue Thumb Records. I did not have any specific ideas in mind, except to get the musicians in the studio with no preconceived musical ideas.
I was always been influenced by Miles Davis and had been listening to the Bitches Brew and Miles In The Sky albums, where he broke away from chord changes, to playing musical statements and motifs, more so than melodies going in and out and different time feels. So I gave it my best shot and all things considered I think it stands the test of time like my other albums, especially with all the things going on around me at that time, which also included my own demons.
Victor Aleman was originally a member and director/founder of The Outlaw Blues Band, which lasted for seven years in Los Angeles and he then became involved in photographing the nascent Latin and Jazz scene in San Francisco in 1970’s.
“At the end of The Outlaw Blues Band contract with ABC Bluesway Records where we recorded two albums with Bob Thiele as a producer (producer of John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong and many other great musicians), I became involved in photography and visual arts.
One day I went to see Larry Young, the great jazz organist playing at Griffith Park at a series of free concerts they held in the Los Angeles area. After Larry Young’s set Luis Gasca came to play next; Luis had Carmelo Garcia on timbales, Hadley Caliman on tenor sax, Lenny White on drums, George Cables on piano, Victor Pantoja on congas and other musicians that I do not recall. At that time I didn’t know who Luis Gasca was.
Luis was also playing a gig at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach where I went and show him the images that I have taken at the Griffin Park concert. He told me he really liked my photography and if I would be interested in going to San Francisco to meet a new band called Malo. They need photographs for a new album cover they were just finishing.
I travelled to the bay area and I started photographing Malo at rehearsals at The Heliport in Sausalito and the many other places they played at that time.
For me, Abel Zarate at that time was one of the best guitarists in that scene. The band had all kinds of problems, with young egos etc, I thought when that initial lineup dissolved they really lost something very special. Of course they went on to get master conguero Francisco Aguabella and Hadley Caliman on the second recording.”
(Jim note; Victor Aleman was responsible for the infrared back cover and dramatic photos of Malo inside the fold out on their debut album release. He also did the photography for three albums released by Luis Gasca and was one of the official photographers at the Keystone Korner club in North Beach where he documented the greatest jazz musicians including Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Stan Getz, Yusef Lateef, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and many others.)
Luis Gasca was then living with Richard Kermode in the North Beach area of San Francisco. Gasca introduced Aleman to Andres Club on Broadway, in North Beach, San Francisco. Andres was being run for its fairly short but dramatic lifespan, by a local hipster called Bernie Arriaga.
Victor remembers it as, a “small little club in North Beach, the very hip and historical area in San Francisco. It was very close to the bay, so there was a lot of tourists, artists and the club became a magnet for Latin jazz at that time, because Luis made it onto “the” hip scene of the city.
Luis had the gift of attracting a lot of other musicians to any club he was playing at. Luis made it happen. Carlos Santana used to come there when he was in his learning transition about jazz. I think Luis and the many musicians that were playing there at that time were pretty instrumental in expanding Carlos’ musical horizons. You never knew who was going to show up on any given night. Luis was running the house band there. The Santana musicians showed up a lot, the Escovedo brothers, Armando Peraza, Victor Pantoja, Francisco Aguabella, George Cables, Lenny White, Sly and the Family Stone, Rick Stevens, Mongo Santamaria and many other musicians that I really do not remember. But it was the place to be any day of the week in San Francisco, because it was full of surprises, musically.”
For Luis Gasca’s seminal “Chant” recording, a mixture of these jazz musicos and the original Santana band entered the Columbia Studios that August in 1971…
I asked Luis about the interplay between the Santana group and the jazz players?
“I’ve already mentioned that Stan Marcum helped me with the Santana band and I personally asked the guys.
At that particular time all the Santana band including Carlos had received instant fame and fortune and with the power struggle going on within the band, they had plenty of time to hang out.
Having Victor Pantoja, Francisco Aguabella, Carmelo Garcia, Richard Kermode, Hadley Caliman in my band at any given time, allowed them to hang out and sit in and also to become personal friends.
Joe Henderson was appearing at a great jazz club managed by Delano Dean Delano (Dean was the owner of the jazz club both/and. I played there one night and Dizzy Gillespie and Roland Kirk sat in with me, it was a famous great club!)
He (Joe Henderson) asked me if I needed any more musicians when I asked him to do the record date; he took the whole band along which also included, George Cables, and an unknown bass player at that time Stanley Clark and Lenny White, the drummer who had recorded on Bitches Brew with Miles Davis – by the way the flute player on “Chant” is Hadley Caliman”.
Mark Levine one of the four keyboardists on the session, was not in agreement with all of Luis’ musical decisions
I worked with Joe Henderson a lot over a 15-20 year period, but we were not close friends. I remember getting paid for the Chant session. There was so much coke around then that I forget a lot. I was in Luis’ band but it was not a working band, but it usually consisted of Joe Henderson, various bass players, Carmelo, various congueros, and myself.
Yes, I was also part of Pete and Sheila’s band at The Reunion, but I don’t remember the club Andres.
I felt there were too many percussionists on the record and also two many keys players.
George Cables and me were on piano, we got in each other’s way but I respect and admire George a lot though.
I asked Luis about the extraordinary and almost telepathic guitar playing by Neal Schon and Abel Zarate on “Little Mama” and the point at record track timing; 4 minutes and 34 seconds When they both “hit” a kind of classical guitar fugue for a hot minute???
I don’t musically remember that part Neal and Abel played, though, I believe it was spontaneous in a spontaneous musical setting. Where one is recording, there are some excellent parts that you keep and chaos that you discard, because you only have a certain amount of time on the record. Miles did the same thing and those are the consequences of recording “free” with no preconceived ideas!
I also asked Abel Zarate the same question?
Abel you plugged in for Little Mama with Neal Schon,
there is a fabulous part at (timed from Facebook
post at 4 minutes 34 seconds) when you and Neal hit a together guitar part, an almost ‘classical part’ was that an accident??
Nothing was planned Jim, everything was flowing and very spontaneous. I’m sure that I was ‘overplaying’ a bit, but Neal and I just intertwined at that point in the jam.
You could call it a magnificent accident if you like LOL… I just listened to it … that’s me coming in right at 4:34 after Neal; I guess we had BIG ears that day huh!
Luis had me stop after a while, my feeling is that he wanted the more experienced jazz players to take it somewhere else; I wouldn’t call it chaotic, it was just unstructured improvisation and I guess that’s what Luis wanted.
BTW Jim, I listened to both Little Mama and Street Dude in their entirety, and Carlos does NOT appear on either tune; he must have played on the other two tracks.
Jim, that’s also me and Neal on Street Dude; I just listened to it, I didn’t realize until now, that I am on TWO cuts from this LP … Street Dude and Little Mama - that is too much!!!
I’m listening to Spanish Gypsy right now and that IS Carlos on that one!
We went to The Automatt (surely Columbia recording studio?) during the ‘Luis’ sessions and that’s how I got to play. He invited Pablo and I to sit in, so I plugged in my guitar and started playing … I distinctly remember Lenny White, Coke, and Stanley Clarke; it was surreal.
Also, I’m going to assume that Luis’ record was done BEFORE we did the Malo LP. To my best memory, I believe the Malo LP was recorded in late August and September … you might want to check with Rich Spremich and others on this?
Abel Zarate also remembered other players at the sessions?
I believe Luis had invited us to the studio while we were rehearsing at the Heliport in Sausalito … hence, that is why we had our instruments with us.
I remember we were invited to the Columbia Studio on Folsom Street, across from where SIR studios used to be. Jorge, Pablo, and I were in awe of the musicians present, they were doing ‘unstructured free-form jams’ it seemed.
Luis turned to me and Pablo Tellez and asked if we wanted to play, so I nodded yes, and plugged in across from Neal Schon.
I doodled around for a bit, and then found an opening and started them off on a cha-cha vamp … not sure how long I played and when they started getting really ‘out’, Luis had me stop playing! I used to have a copy of that record on CD, but can’t find it now.
We met Carmelo Garcia via Luis, we hung out at Basin St West a few times on Broadway Street, and if I remember correctly, Carmelo also played timbales at Andre’s and at Cesar’s Latin Palace.
I seem to recall that he either sat in, or played on a couple of gigs that I did with Kermode. Carmelo didn’t speak English very well, but he was always smiling and joking around; I believe Richard Spremich would have more to say about Carmelo than I do.
Thanks Jim, as many years have passed from this project, I do not want to ‘ruffle’ any feathers. But I was always curious as to why I ended up on the final mix unaccredited.
(Abel see Luis’s comment further on- Jim note)
Luis Gasca also remembered the framework around the recording sessions.
Besides finding a financial sponsor (Stan Marcum), getting the band which included rooms, advances, “goodies”, women and countless other things, I had “a lot on my plate” and then I had to play the trumpet which is very demanding.
Please also tell Abel Zarate that I did not mean to leave him out on the album credits; it was an oversight on my part. I also left out other people who had helped me. I was pretty burned out mentally and physically, so tell every one hi for me… (Hi from Luis everyone!!)
For Abel Zarate; the sessions were a new learning curve and a chance to play with hotshot youngster Neal Schon…??
Well, it was ‘listen’ and compliment … everything was flowing free-form, but I was right across from Neal (perhaps I was overplaying a bit. You know it was a totally new experience for me at that time … but Luis was having us experiment with the ‘cosmos’ at MALO rehearsals, so I was sort of ready for it … we were all learning the use of space etc. etc. … and how to ‘listen’ … although I hadn’t yet mastered that LOL!
The recording session that I was at was done ‘live’ … everyone in the room separated only by baffles … I wasn’t privy, as to who was overseeing the project.
All I know is that we were invited, and we showed up … so there are THREE scenarios that could explain how I ended up on that record.
Neal was quite aloof, as he WAS the hot guitarist then for sure (I didn’t know at the time that he had already played with Derek and the Dominoes) so I gave him his space, and didn’t say too much to him. It was a blast playing in the same room with him, as I had heard so much about him.
I was only at ONE session, and I had no idea I’d be playing that day … hence, I was VERY surprised when I heard my parts on the record … but I was very busy doing other projects.
After I left Malo and wasn’t sure what I could do about it, or whether or not it was worth pursuing. I was young and really didn’t care, or thought it would matter much.
Abel Zarate also had to leave the Malo band later after this Gasca recording, due to encroaching health reasons
Health problems were the reason they fired me from Malo!
I missed an entire weeks’ engagement at the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles because of it, the management used that as grounds to let me go; it is what it is, and it was what it was:-)
Jeffry Trager was working at Blue Thumb Records with Tommy LiPuma and Bob Krasnow and remembered Luis’ personality?
Luis was one great trumpet player, who came along right in the middle of the Latin Rock Explosion. One of the craziest and wackiest guys you would ever want to meet. Always hustling for something.
Personally, I loved the guy. He was ALWAYS great to me. He was a mixture of Puck and Peter Pan. Great smile, always getting into trouble.
He was here, there, everywhere, and had friends, and he had enemies. He was full steam ahead for just about anything, especially if it had 2 legs. “Hey Mama” was his signature line.
He disappeared for a while and I think he faked his own death.
I was in Cancun Mexico one night and I am shitfaced and I hear this guy playing the horn on the stage with some band, and it was Luis!
I immediately screamed “Mama” and he stopped dead in the middle of his solo, and looked out, because he knew someone from The City was in the audience. He just loved that.
He was at the time, taking people out on fishing trips on a boat he had. What a place to find Luis. It was fucking great to hear that familiar sound, just great! A REAL CHARACTER of the inth degree!!
Abel Zarate also recalled the Santana band’s disarray at that time.…….
I remember that Richard Spremich, Jorge, Pablo and I ran into Carlos at Luis’ gig at Basin Street West, and he had left the band out on the road … but I can’t say for sure if this is why he was not present at the session, nor can I speak to what his relationship was with Mike Carabello at the time…
Although it could very well be, that things were very difficult.
Carlos made it clear that things were less than kosher between he and the band at Basin Street … and he sat in with Luis that night on the number ‘Linda Chicana’.
I am paraphrasing from well known facts that Michael and Carlos did not get along for quite awhile … but I witnessed the two of them hug and make up when Carabello and I went to visit Carlos, right before I joined Willie Bobo, so I was under the assumption that that is the reason Carlos was NOT there on the day, I sat in at the Columbia Studios session.
As regarding sets with Luis, I don’t really remember all that much, but we were doing songs like ‘Morning’ by Claire Fischer, if I remember correctly, and some Latin descarga style stuff … very loose … I think I only did a couple of live gigs with Luis, and the others were with Kermode much later. I am not sure if I also played at Cesar’s Latin Palace with Luis.
Luis had made some great connections in the San Franciscan music scene…one in particular…
With “all things considered” I had enough recorded material to put an album together, so that in itself felt really good.
I first heard Joe Henderson on two “jazz hits” of that time (the 1960`s) Song For My Father with Horace Silver and The Side Winder with Lee Morgan who was shot by his wife getting off the bandstand at a jazz club in New York – Slugs my friend from Houston Texas and Billy Roy Harper was the tenor player in the band.
I knew Lee from the Apollo Theater in New York, when I worked there with Mongo Santamaria. Like all true artists, Joe had an immediate recognizable sound, which was something hard to do under the shadows and influence during the same time of the great and established tenor giants – John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins were still alive (Sonny Rollins is still alive and playing).
He recorded and worked with everyone but never achieved the popularity of other sax players (say players like Gato Barbieri, Stanley Turrentine, Charles Lloyd, etc.), which unfortunately happens too often in the record business, when they don’t really support and get behind the artist.
Joe and I were good friends, and Joe went to the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival, which also included pianista Mark Levine and timbalero Carmelo Garcia, which was also a series of concerts that I promoted in the San Francisco area.
Joe had some type of “debt” so I “loaned” him some money, which I was at that time in a position and more than glad to do it!
Yes, we were good friends. I also indirectly helped him get his house in Potrero Hill on Las Palmas Street in San Francisco in the 1970’s.
The Little Giant album was the first time Joe and I worked together and I was musically honored when I called him to do the date and he said he would be there!
When he walked into the studio the producer (a wannabe) asked me why I had called Joe Henderson, when he could have got others! I naturally ignored Joel Dorn.
I never liked the name of the album ‘Little Giant’ which was embarrassing for me and I hated the album cover artwork –pineapples and pop art combined-.
There was already a real “little giant” a great tenor player called Johnny Griffin – so much for the great producer, thank you Joel Dorn: what a joke!!
After the “Chant” album, he (Joe Henderson) asked me to get the material, the music and the band for an album he was behind on for Fantasy Records and he wasn’t ready.
So, with the help of Mark Levine and Joe Gallardo, we recorded “Canyon Lady” with Orrin Keepnews an excellent producer for Fantasy Records.
But ironically about a year later, Joe Henderson, Cal Tjader and I were “dropped” from Fantasy Records. I was honored to be cancelled in such outstanding company, ha, ha, ha!
Time passed and at last at the age of 50 plus, Joe Henderson finally got all the recognition, like Grammy Magazine Covers, etc.
I saw him on a TV show at the White House with Bill Clinton, who ironically said that it was easier for him to become President than it was to ever play as good as John Coltrane or Stan Getz.
The last time I saw Joe before he died I asked him: “how it felt finally getting all this success”? He joked with me and told me it, “felt good to check out of a hotel with dignity ha, ha, and pay the bill with no trouble.”
I think about Joe often and forever I am honor and humbled to truly say I was a friend of his and he was a friend of mine.
I understood his demons. He was a very private person, “the phantom” as Freddy Hubbard once joked.
It almost seems to me that John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz, had to pass away before Joe finally got his short lived recognition.
He certainly could easily fill those empty slots of the great tenor player of this musically complicated world.
I think about Joe often and will forever miss him!!
P.S. the name of Delanor Deans jazz club was the Both/And jazz club. A great place in the Fillmore district. The Both/And Jazz Club (350 Divisadero Street; San Francisco) were one of these.
Open from 1965 to 1972, the tiny space quickly became one of the last major jazz clubs in the area.
The fantastic saxophonist John Handy was part of one of the first bands to play the Both/And.
Handy says that he was responsible for putting the club on the map and “taking it from sandwiches to a liquor license” when Chronicle music reviewer Ralph Gleason came down to one of Handy’s shows and wrote about the club Readers are recommended to check out John Handy’s 1976 R&B cut called Hard Work, (Assembled on a 2-for-1 CD release on Verve, this January 2012 called Hard Work/Carnival, featuring a great band and Handy’s superb soloing).
Joe Louis Walker also has fond memories of the Both/And. He remembers seeing Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery there.
“It was a cool atmosphere at the Both/And, the premier jazz club for a while. It had a stage to the right and an upstairs area. John McLaughlin played there one night out of a Marshall amp. No one could believe it. Jazz chicks were going crazy. It was an excellent show.
Across the street was Pal’s Rendezvous (on 298 Divisadero Street; San Francisco), another bar that featured great music.
I asked Luis what had happened to the crazy, extroverted timbalero Carmelo Garcia???
Carmelo García is alive and well in Los Angeles.
(I believe according to Mark Levine he has now relocated to New York City- Jim note)
It was a very hard “struggle for him” especially being raised in Santo Domingo.
But he made it back and he’s one of the best and “natural” percussionists in the world. There was lots of “respect and cooperation”.
Between all concerned, which made it less intense, it was experimental and most of us were on cloud nine.
On the album credits; who was Gonzales Mares Garza “with little birds and flowers”?
Garza is my grandmother. She was a wonderful Indian woman who always worked in her rose garden with little birds and flowers.
I had to kneel so she could “bless me” in La Bendición before I went “ on the road” at a very young age.
Who was the cover artist Philip Lindsay Mason?
After my Joel Dorn album covers my girlfriend Patricia Henner introduced me to Philip, yes he was an Afro-American artist, he was one of the best.
I saw it on Patricia, my aunt’s wall, who was going out with Philip at the time and I knew immediately that was the cover for the music. I had in mind a really nice cover and the front I liked but not the back art they used? (also by Philip Lindsay Mason- Jim note)
Luis Gasca today……………..??
I now live a very peaceful life now, I had to pay tenfold for so many mistakes with drugs, liquor and I was much later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was not a good combo, but “all things considered”, there is not many musicians that have crisscrossed genres, such as Mongo, Count Basie, Janis Joplin, Dr John, The Grateful Dead, etc.. and especially coming from such a humble environment (the Mexican ward in Houston, Texas).
I touched “the stars” even if it was for a past moment in time.
A closer look at the music on the original recording and some other music sessions recorded in those two days that did not make the sessions………….
This record is only available on old vinyl copies and is still buyable on Ebay etc and also as an expensive Japanese import CD.
I have enclosed YouTube clips of reasonable quality for you to hear this marvellous music. Please get this recording if you are able, it is well worth it.
A1. Street Dude (11:40);
This starts immediately after the Little Mama guitar jams on the undubbed sessions between Abel Zarate and Neal Schon. Here a gorgeous Latin guitar riff opens this piece played by Abel Zarate. Neal Schon also appears on this cut according to Abel and they work magic together. A different sound picture allows you to hear the deft guitar playing by Zarate. The solo by Joe Henderson on tenor is the same as on the finished recording. Shrieve and White on respective drum kits lope in a relaxed and intense fashion. There is an out-there vibe to this largely unstructured music that sounds both spontaneous and deeply thought about, at the same time. Chepito on vibes is heard clearly here along with the organ of Richard Kermode. The whole thing swings effortlessly and in a deep, almost contemplative groove. All the while the electric pianos point and jab and add colors whilst Chepito enhances the piece with vibraphone textures.
Gasca adds plaintive trumpet until Clarke adds a sonorous time change on bass, after which the whole ensemble switches gear and begins a percussive onslaught, which is still shockingly avant – garde all these forty years later. The timbaleros start to apply tom-tom pressure to proceedings. Please note here the added vocal chants that are on the finished recording are not all present here yet. Excellent guitar abstractions by Neal follow here. Africa is calling as the mood intensifies and the percussionistas get down. Chants begin, these I would imagine courtesy of Carmelo Garcia, Victor Pantoja; but here they are less defined than the finished recording but they are still compelling. The music moves along in a trance like manner similar to Bambele Bambeyo, with hypnotic congas by Pantoja and then the timbales strike up again.
This unedited piece finishes with guitar caresses by both guitar players around free form percussion and bass. Again it is longer than the album cut. On the fade-out it features some magisterial trumpet from Gasca. Electric piano adding free form flourishes, end out the piece.
(Unheard music here)
And lead into a section of open playing without percussion, this I imagine is both Mark Levine and George Cables.
This leads into a subtle riff led by Stanley Clarke’s bass under the two pianistas. Shrieve and White set up a swing time drum pattern over which the pianists hit some laidback soloing with Clarke adding a ruminating bass solo. Shrieve then heads out into a snare and bass drum propelled solo piece with his trademark crisp snare two stroke rolls. This diminishes in volume until the bass comes back into the picture.
A further section features solo piano from George Cables in a spare setting, with sparse bass from Mr Clarke. At least and more than twenty minutes in length, this opens up with a light funky and jazzy pulse set up by the drummers. The music changes to drums being played in a light and fast style. It goes on further thru moods and time changes in a pure Latino jazz style, just the pianos, bass and the two drummers, bobbing and playing a thick but dexterous sheet of cymbal rhythm.
We then enter deeper abstract territory with wah-wah electric piano playing with snare drums playing thru what sounds like time delay or Echoplex; similar perhaps in feel to the Mwandishi/Sextant era Herbie Hancock. This resolves into a blues shuffle, like a funkier Jack Johnson and the music starts to get on down. The music spins and wheels thru different moods and changes in the spaces of a few bars.
Never settling, always changing, the bass bubbles and Mike Shrieve plays some drum raps thru an Echoplex or similar device giving the drums a space age filtered feel. (Remember this is pre electronic era drums, back in 1971 and reminds one of Shrieve’s ever-exploratory musical nature)
A funky vibe starts up with Clarke Shrieve and White cooking up a storm, against a distant electric piano.
A2. La Raza (8:03);
With a meditative and haunting opening horn theme by Gasca and Joe Henderson, La Raza is another musical jewel from this extraordinary recording session. Bowed bass by Stanley Clarke accompanies a poignant dreamy intro by Luis on trumpet here. The musicians feel their way towards an almost straight ahead funky 4/4 time riff, in which Gasca desultorily plays over the top, the drums start to kick in and push and thrust the piece into a more urgent mood. Joe Henderson appears from nowhere, as if he had just walked in thru the studio door at that moment. His tenor flurries are replied too with a kicking drum section, both jabbing and punctuating the sax player’s bluesy playing. Both drummers ride the tom-toms behind an increasingly agitated solo by Henderson.
It funks ferociously and Henderson drags the music to the point of exploding or imploding, whichever way you are hearing it? Henderson drags it back from the edge of collapse by a funky tenor refrain before hitting the main theme, aided and abetted by Clarke’s deeply bent and pulled bass strings. Thus, the track fades almost too quickly, after an eight-minute piece of the deepest jazz exploration.
B1. Spanish Gypsy (15:07);
The atmospheric intro of this piece starts with a false start on the un-dubbed reel-to-reel tapes from the Columbia Studio sessions and then it starts up again; these two parts were edited on the final recording and made into a seamless start on the record.
Carabello’s congas are to the fore on this rough mix and the horn intro with Joe Henderson is the same a sultry thematic that heralds the beginning of a firecracker solo by Luis Gasca. Neal Schon’s rhythm guitar can be clearly heard, along with Carlos’s jazzy guitar extrapolations. Luis’s trompeta solo is different here to the one on the finished recording this seems to be a guide solo before he recorded the “real thing”. It is more tentative and not as explosive as the record. Stanley Clarke bass playing buzzes throughout the track. This first section is followed by Carlos playing some echoed and tasty guitar licks playing while around the pianists rippling and vamping. The percussion section starts to pick up energy and dynamism here with Carmelo Garcia injecting some tasty timbale fills. Joe Henderson erupts on tenor saxophone and this is the same solo as on the album recording. Victor Pantoja supplies simple but strong conga flams and drops along with Coke Escovedo and Carmelo’s timbale drops. Both Michael Shrieve and Lenny White start to heat up the piece as the pressure increases in the two-man drum section. Further excellent flurrying guitar from Carlos ensues, adding strong flavor to this extended track. Luis Gasca’s trumpet flurries seem to be pulling and braking the music back and the track breaks into a time change with Carlos playing a refrain over the time change. Congas and timbales all seem to be falling apart, as the track heads to a final fade with Carlos and Neal adding languid guitar fretting. This is a different mix than the finished album so Neal and Carlos are heard in a different sound picture. There is a much longer fade here, with much more fluid guitar from Neal and Carlos not heard on the recording. There is also some tasty drum kit and timbale interaction on the way outwards. Another Henderson solo comes in amongst the percolating and cooking rhythm section, which is bubbling in a very cool fashion. This unedited session is a good eight or nine minutes longer than the album cut. I would estimate an approximate time of 23/24 minutes or more for this excellent musica. Music of a kind, which was never to be heard in this form again.
B2. Little Mama (5:28).
This starts in a floating, almost formless way before the music heard on the session called Little Mama intro is heard on the record. Before Neal Schon brings in that light but funky guitar riff that starts some great guitar jamming between him and Abel Zarate. The guitar playing is light, airy but seamlessly intertwining as the riff gathers momentum and pulls to a halt, allowing Neal and Abel to flex their mighty musical muscles here. It’s a mesmeric brew of snarling and caterwauling guitar playing from both men. Both wailing and interwoven plus crisply bluesy and soulful; although the two had never met or played before, An example of the astounding musical telepathy extant in those heady days of the San Franciscan Latin rock scene.
There is an astonishing moment (4 minutes 34 seconds) when Neal and Abel Zarate hit a ”fugue” like moment that is truly astounding to hear. As Abel said earlier in the main interview, it was a pure moment that happened spontaneously in the room. On the finished recording the intro piece was recorded at a different time and edited onto the front of this piece. On the reel-to-reel it introes immediately afterwards with Abel Zarate’s beautiful chiming Latin guitar riff for Street Dude.
In the photo of Eddie Palmieri, Luis Gasca is on the left and on the right is the owner of Andres’ club, Bernie Arriaga in the North Beach area of San Francisco. The other is of Carmelo Garcia playing at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, California.
Tags: Abel Zarate, Carlos Santana, Jim McCarthy, Latin Rock