This suite of songs exists, in part, thanks to the music of Mongo Santamaria, though it’s not really ‘latin’ in any normal sense. Here’s the story:
When I was 18 and a student in Toronto, I picked up a record in a second-hand shop on Harbord Street. It was Afro Roots by Mongo Santamaria--a remarkable two discs of Cuban roots music recorded in the late 1950s. It transfixed me then and I have turned to it for mystery and inspiration ever since. Mystery? Somewhere at the core of that collection of music there is a mystery that I sense but have never solved or even articulated and I have, for forty years, continued to dig away at it; scratching away the surface to find my own meaning within.
In 2008, I set up my home studio and set out to learn my tools. The first project was to take a dozen-or-so short rhythmic samples from Afro Roots and begin to build up ‘grooves’ from them using drums, percussion, guitar plus synthesisers and samplers. Then I broke up the grooves and carefully molded them into a variety of classic forms.
The result was this suite of seven pieces. If you listen carefully, you can still sometimes hear the original Mongo samples but the result is nothing like the source. It’s playful, surprising and sometimes bizarre but with a level of sonic consistency that makes it a suite rather than just a collection.
I finished the project but continued to listen to it often and found that it had the quality of being energising yet unobtrusive in the background when I was otherwise occupied. When I stopped what I was doing and listened, though, there was always something changeing and moving to tickle my ears and brain. I began to think of this as “music for the kitchen and workshop” and gave it that title.
Three of the songs feature performances by Freddie the budgie and one contains a recitation by my then-nine-year-old son Ashley. The rest is all Mongo and me. All songs © Douglas Gifford 2012