Afro-Cuban Conga Drum improvisation
by Cliff Brooks
Review by Eric Stuer
There are lots of transcriptions of Guaguanco, but Clifford Brooks'
book deals with an area that has had very little written on it until
now: the art of authentic folkloric quinto soloing. He introduces
quinto rides, phrases, and solos in the rich context of Guaguanco.
A little over half the book is spent getting the reader used to
his notation system and counting and finding spots within it and
so on. The matrix is based on 16 dashes marking equal times in the
cycle and displays in either horizontal (left to right) or vertical
(bottom to top) format. To be honest, I would have preferred to
have seen the exercises in standard notation.
The good news of Cliff's notation system is that when you finally
figure out vertical mode, the lefts and rights are very easy to
read, because the lefts are on the left and the rights are on the
right. To be fair it did not take long to figure out, and all in
all, it is well thought out and reasonably explained.
The actual exercises are very useful indeed, once the notation
system is figured out. Overall, this is a sound method, dealing
with an important area. Highly recommended.
Eric Stuer, December 2004