We are thrilled to have Cuban percussionist Arturo Stable join the Wula Retreat Faculty in 2018. An expert on Cuban percussion and drumset, he also represents a true modern percussionist, fusing many styles together to create his own sound.
Here are some excerpts from a Modern Drummer Magazine interview:
"More than most, this percussionist understands that necessity is the mother of invention—and you never want to leave Mom hanging. So whether he’s collaborating with heavyweight jazzers or leading his own unique ensembles, he always answers the call to create new rhythmic and sonic possibilities.Last fall, the Cuban-born, Philadelphia-based composer/percussionist Arturo Stable met with four of his favorite musicians—saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Edward Perez, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and vocalist Magos Herrera—at Peter Karl Studios in Brooklyn, to track a handful of original compositions and spontaneous improvisations for his latest album, Cuban Crosshatching. Conspicuously absent from the two-day session, however, was a drummer."
"MD: How is percussion taught in Cuba?
Arturo: Until the late ’70s, everything that was taught in school was classical music, while popular and folkloric music was taught on the streets. But that system was changing when I started. You studied classical, but you took courses on folkloric. My teacher was classically trained, so he only taught the basics. But on the streets you could learn from different mentors. My dad was a musician, so he would talk these great percussionists into having me to their houses to hear me play. You had to show them that you were worth their time, because they didn’t charge money. Back then everything was based on pride and mentorship.
MD: What’s the difference in mentality of being the drummer versus the percussionist?"
"Arturo: The first is the function. If you’re playing rumba, each drum has a pattern that interacts with the others in a very specific way. But in contemporary music, the drummer is the one who drives the intensity and handles the transitions. Percussion is not traditionally played that way. You either embellish with colors and textures or lay down a groove. The function of the contemporary jazz drummer is much more interactive, so making that switch in my head was very important. And, of course, there’s the technique of playing with sticks. I still work on trying to get the cymbal to sing.
I have two people to blame for me taking this new direction. One is Francisco Mela. We played a lot in Boston, and he was the one who pointed out that the music I was writing could benefit from different approaches.
The other guy is a Spanish sax player named Javier Vercher. He booked a tour, and he wanted to use percussion instead of drums. I went to Spain with him for three weeks, which was an eye-opener. I didn’t know what I was doing, but the people loved it."
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Stable’s setup changes from gig to gig, but for Cuban Crosshatching he used an 18″ Slingerland bass drum; a Meinl doumbek; LP bongos, Vibra-Slap, and Stanton Moore signature pandeiro; a traditional djembe, cajon, thumb piano, and frame drum; a custom-made rebolo; a signature goatskin-head snare and quintíllo; a Zildjian 20″ Flat ride and 14″ K Custom Dark hi-hats; a 22″ Sabian HHX Manhattan Jazz ride with three rivets; a 22″ Bosphorus Master Vintage ride; and assorted shakers, rattles, gongs, and cowbells