Learning The Clave and Cascara Rhythms :)

Im not posting as often as I used to , I guess in the winter its nicer to stay in in the evenings and work on the computer, whereas now I like to go out and Jam music and dance in Barcelona!

When I was with the Scallywags I started playing the shaky egg: 

They are great percussive toy and work well in bands as they have a high frequency so can be audible when played alongside lots of instruments.

Now I am in Spain I am looking into Latin percussion. I’ve had a few lessons on the congas, but after a while they hurt my hands, and as I am a saxophonist my hands are quite precious and cannot handle being bashed on drums for hours on end.

So now I have acquired myself some Clave: Here is a example of a selection of Clave, where you just use two and hit them together to make the beat.


Ive Been practising these rhythms:

The Son 3-2 and 2-3 and the Rumba .


This is how you correctly hold the Clave to get full sound (Its surprisingly loud when play them fully!) The Clave is audible  when played alongside a band with amplification.

It is common in Latin music for the Clave rhythms to be also used by vocalists and horn sections, and even the whole band sometimes with all play the Clave rhythm with their instruments for example in a break or and ending. I like the Clave because it brings a bit of a swing in the music, the syncopation of the rhythm helps drive the music whilst giving in depth and a danceable style.

I have also been learning the Cascara rhythm which my friends say is very useful for understanding the placing of horn parts as well. The Cascara is also 2 bars long, with more syncopation. The arrows are accents, and this is something I am coming to now, as you play the rhythm you give more emphasis to the accents. Sometimes you can simplify the rhythm to just playing the accents. This could be done for example when the music is decrescendo (music is quieter) and one instrument or voice has a solo part. The rhythm section might want to simplify their beats in order not to crowd the singer or horn player.

The magic and also difficult part of learning Latin music, coming from a Western culture is the syncopation. I have come across syncopation before in Jazz, Bossa Nova and Latin books and also whilst playing in Ska and Reggae bands. However in Latin the syncopated notes are more frequent and unlike SKA and Reggae is not used regular just on the off beat. For example there maybe there will be 3 off beat notes and then a whole phrase afterwards all on the off beat. I am learning some songs with Calle Sol that the sax melody is all on the off beat. This is very challenging as for years Ive anticpated the 1 beat and then the following on beats.. however now its time to practice syncopation with the masters!


Latin music also uses faster paced music, for example 130bpm. There for accuracy and delicacy is important when playing Latin music.

Here is a video of my playing the Clave and Cascara



Because i cannot play it very loud in my house it is hard to get a good consistency with sound, however its a start to learning the rhythms and keeping them consistent.

Try it for yourself.


We have been working hard everyday getting ready to ‘smash’ it in France! We have exciting songs of Latin, Reggae and Cumbia (Cumbia is like Balkan Gypsy but faster).

–Follow the website to hear the songs–

A new adventure with CALLE SOL…

I have been practicing with a new band for me called Calle Sol . They have been together with changing members over the last 8 years.. with all original songs and a great network of musicians that they share with Made In Barcelona, Bacan Avissattis and Playing For Change.


I am very pleased to be going on tour with Calle Sol in the south of France. We will be taking a car from Barcelona in June driving around the south of France for 10 days. We will be playing in the street as well as performing concerts in venues.

Every day I practice for this band.. they have a massive repertoire of music.. afro-latin, reggae and cumbia. Its new for me to learn the rhythms of the Clave and the Montunos , and the Mambos of each song. I love the lessons and new techniques im learning.  (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mambo)


Check out this link for another song in our repertoire : CHA CHA CHA – MADE IN BARCELONA


Bringing me into the heart of Barcelona and its music scene, learning new skills and mingling with so many musicians I could not ask for a better life right now or better musicians to be working with!

Keeping the Sax at the heart of my ventures.








Till April

**       T I L L   *  A P R I L      **

An Inspiring new band i’ve found in Barcelona ..

oooppsss thats a smiling cat

With a quirky charm and uplifting spirit these guys all take the seriousness out of life and lift you into a swinging frenzy.

Imagine soft fluffy things, flowers and mini guitars circling above your head as you dance barefooted in a field of daffodils.. thats the imagery i get from these lovely fellows.


Give the Link a click above and see them for yourselves on their first ever Official video release!

Tonight I go to see them live!  Here is the FACEBOOK EVENT : )


**       T I L L   *  A P R I L      **




Hotel Lemeridien Ra – Jazz concert and more to come



I met with Mixael, he saw me play on Saturday night and invited me to join a brilliant Cuban Jazz Pianist, Luis. We drove for 1 and a half hours, all the way from Barcelona to El Vendrell. Located just by the beach is a beautiful, magnificent hotel, Lemeridien Ra.

We performed Jazz songs, standards and a couple of improvisation pieces from 9pm-11.30pm. Amongst these songs were ‘Fly me to the Moon’, ‘Summertime’ in two different keys, ‘Girl from Ipanema’, a Jazz rendition of ‘Killing me softly’, and ‘What a Wonderful World’  by Louis Armstrong.

The Yamaha grand Piano and my Yanagisawa Saxophone naturally reverberated off the walls with soft and full sound.

We play there again on Wednesday and I will record it with my Zoom recorder.

Now ill leave you with Louis Armstrong himself 🙂

Hip hop till you drop!

  We have been working hard preparing for the summer season and the gigs coming up 🙂 come and check out our 12 piece hip hop band in brighton

I will be playing with The Spoken Herd Hip Hop band for three more gigs and then running off to Barcelona for a bit of sunshine and more hip hop vibes with some good friends in Spain. CHECK OUT them out here: http://www.youtube.com/user/SSCsuperspanishcombo








Barcelona – A trip to Inspire

B A R C E L O N A – P L A Y I N G  F O C H A N G E

Ive had a bit of time off.. The gig I was preparing for in my last post was cancelled sadly, but will be happening soon so any House and Techno lovers in London – I will keep you posted.

So after that I still took my flight to Barcelona to see some of my much missed friends, who are also full time passionate musicians.

Los Made In Barcelona are one of the best Salsa, Reggae and Latin jazz bands I know !  They are originally from all corners of the earth and have come together in the essence of true music to make you dance 🙂

HAhaha – they are nutters ! Always so much fun and such original and kind people !

You can find Los Made In Barcelona on the Port Vell on the way to the Barceloneta beach in Barcelona.. Thursday to Sunday daytimes 12-5pm

To find them on Facebook click on the photo below:


Then with these lovely bunch we all went to see Pierre Minetti and Francois Viguie and more of their friends playing Live at the Apollo Barcelona with PLAYING FOR CHANGE. playingforchnage  I had met these musicians 5 years ago at my first visit to Barcelona when Playing For Change was just releasing its first video – ‘Stand By Me’.  Playing For Change is a foundation set up from one mans idea from when he was traveling to work everyday in New York. On his way to the recording studio to record Paul Simon, he noticed that himself and so many other people would stop and listen to the buskers. He said they always drew such a big crowd, were so talented  and made him and everyone smile. He got the bright idea to record the street musicians and to bring the same equipment he would use in the studio but onto the street. So that is where it began, Mark Johnson recording all sorts of cultures and musicians and giving them the opportunity to record their great music!  Now he has set up a brilliant foundation that has helped thousands of children and families in developing countries to access music and instruments. By building schools and music rooms and also promoting and presenting the world with the music from their streets. Using over 150 musicians who have recorded albums and music DVD’s to continue this growing foundation of PEACE THROUGH MUSIC.

So far the most successful music video on Youtube – STAND BY ME

and the most emotional Live performance ive ever heard!

Here are some photos I took during my trip and at the Apollo:

Glitzy and Gold.. Sax is my Bling

       Wednesday 11th Dec 2013 :                                          Club Gig London

Playing House music with Glitzy Gold Dancers and my Sax Bling in Hand!

Get your tickets now!



yes! The Mighty Diamonds putting the spring in my step :)



Tonight the Mighty Diamonds played a lovely set of their old time classics in early Roots Reggae from the 1970’s 🙂 backed by beautiful Rasites who opened the show for them with strong harmonies and sweet bass rhythms they nearly stole the show 😛 but when Bunny and  Judge came onto stage they had everyone whooping and bouncing 🙂

RASITES – London Based Reggae Trio

What a lucky and awesome experience, to see such classic band.. ive loved them since i first heard them about 6 years ago. They played my favorite songs in the middle of the set ; Right Time,  Have Mercy, I need a roof, and so many sweet love songs 🙂

The Mighty Diamonds
The Mighty Diamonds – taken by Elma Houghton

Concorde 2 hosted a fabulous show with great sound and vibes yet again 🙂 ..

Im tired but am filming tomorrow with Vinnie Rose at the Brighton arts club! , come down 🙂 we will be playing a set from 10pm 🙂  so i definately should go to bed!

Have Mercy
‘Have Mercy’  – The Mighty Diamonds – taken by Elma Houghton