Djembe & Mande Music Page/Review Section(last revision 11/16/99)
TITLE: MOZAMBIQUE VOL. 2 ARTIST: KIM ATKINSON FORMAT: VIDEO COMPANY: PULSEWAVE PERCUSSION
I sure love to review excellent products like this!
Kim Atkinson has recently released an excellent follow-up to last year's outstanding video "Mozambique, Vol 1". No less a luminary than Arthur Hull is quoted on the cover: "The best teaching video I've ever seen! ...A pleasure to watch!" Given Arthur's abilities as a teacher, that's quite an endorsement.
Mozambique Vol. 2 begins with a 4 person combo performance on surdo, bell, and three congas featuring Atkinson's tasty solos. As in the previous video, the first thing the I noticed is that these people are having FUN playing!
"Pello El Afrokan created Mozambique as Carnaval music and dance in Havana, Cuba in the early 1960's. He started with 3 congas, 2 bells, 2 bass drums, trombones, chorus and lead vocal and later added electric guitar and bass, timbales and other percussion. Pello's "Mozambique" was a hit in Europe in the 1960's, but has not become well known in this country. The Mozambique that is commonly known and played here is what I call New York Mozambique and has evolved in a band instrumentation of congas, timbales, bongo, claveand guiro. It was probably first developed in Eddie Palmieri's ensemble "La Perfecta" and got wide dissemination with his album "Mozambique". (From the booklet included with the video)
The first half of the approximately 1 hour video is devoted to a detailed breakdown of the Cuban version of the rhythm, in 2/3 rumba clave. The second half of the program is devoted to the New York style of Mozambique, also in 2/3, which Atkinson explains is the form most commonly used in the United States today.
Kim Atkinson is an excellent teacher, and there is a wealth of information and parts presented on the video. All the parts of each arrangement are patiently broken down and clearly explained. In addition to the detailed transcriptions (in both standard and box notation) in the accompanying booklet, Kim counts out each part while playing it, in both 1/8th and 1/16th notes. He even speaks slowly through the various conga patterns using a set of drum-sound syllables, which are explained in the booklet.
All the various parts are demonstrated in relationship to each other, with an emphasis on understanding the spots in time when the parts overlap or intersect so that the student has clear reference points. Kim also makes a point to demonstrate each part not only beginning on "1", but also on the "ponche" (or "4") where the rhythm traditionally is begun. Attention to these sorts of performance details illustrates Atkinson's desire to help us understand and better assimilate the proper feel of the rhythm.
Again, as I wrote in my review of Vol 1, it's great to have a video where the teacher breaks the more complicated patterns down into smaller chunks, and repeats each chunk - as well as the resulting whole - long enough to really understand and play along. There's none of the "4 bar demo, rewind and squint again" syndrome in this video!
Following the demonstrations of the clave, bell, conga-tumba, high conga, and two bomba parts, a full ensemble performance with 7 players (adding the shekere as well) is presented - complete with calls and breaks!
The second half of the video focuses on the "American" or New York style, and features an arrangement for timbale and cha cha bell, conga-tumba, high conga, clave and guiro. In addition, Kim presents a number of conga part variations, including a 3 drum pattern designed for a single player which creates space within the pattern for soloing.
The video closes with an exciting performance of what Kim refers to as "Mozambique, California Style" featuring Atkinson, Noah Mosgofian, David Penalosa and Cary Griffin.
Mozambique Volume two is every bit as good as Volume one: these two videos are far and away the most thorough products available for learning about Mozambique. There's LOTS of meat, and virtually no filler! My hope is that Kim Atkinson will continue with these fine products and treat us to more videos exploring other Cuban rhythms with the same kind of detail and depth.
VERY highly recommended!
Kim Atkinson, 1996
Pulsewave Percussion, P.O. Box 703, Sebastapol, CA 95473