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#115 Giovanni Hidalgo- Master Percussionist (aka G.O.A.T.)

#115 Giovanni Hidalgo- Master Percussionist (aka G.O.A.T.)

The photo of Giovanni was taken by Martin Cohen of Congahead.

This week’s guest is the legendary percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo. Gio was born in Puerto Rico in 1963 and grew up in home filled with the drums, bongos, congas and timbales used by his father and grandfather, both musicians themselves. Gio began playing on a home made conga crafted by his father from a wooden barrel, when he was just eight years old. He also practiced on other percussion instruments, applying his great talent to become one of the top Latin percussionists in the world today.

The album Damon brings up featuring Giovanni along with Candidio Camero and Carlos “Patato” Valdez is called “The Conga Kings: Jazz Descargas”.

R.I.P. to Hal Blaine who passed away at 90. Hal was part of “The Wrecking Crew” and Phil Spektor’s “Wall of Sound”. He also appeared on more than 35,000 recordings, including some 6,000 singles. Some of the songs/albums you can hear Hal on can be found HERE.

Educational spotlight……

The Percussive Arts Society (PAS) has upcoming chapter events in various cities. For more information, CLICK HERE. There’s also a solo marimba composition contest where the grand prize is $3,000.

The iconic recording this week is from the album “Traveling Through Time” by Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo.

The playlist created by (friend of the show), Marcos Lopez, on Giovanni solos and other great performances can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Music News for this week……

Apple breaks with digital music competitors, will not appeal songwriter royalty increase. Major digital music and streaming services Amazon, Google, Pandora and Spotify on Thursday filed separate appeals of a U.S. Copyright Royalty Board ruling that greatly increases royalty rates paid out to songwriters. Apple is conspicuously absent from the list of appellants. 70% of 12-34 year-olds in the US are using YouTube for music. We want to know how do you find new music? And which service to you consume your content on? Please feel free to let us know at: discussionsinpercussion@gmail.com. Amazon Unveils Ticketmaster Functionality in Alexa-Enabled Devices — Including Seat Selection. Damon mentions Boston Dynamics for the robots they create and how they will take over the world. Marcos mentions the fact that climate change might take us out a lot quicker. Hulu’s 10-Part Wu-Tang Clan Series Is a Go — Dave East, Julian Elijah Martinez on Board as well. Lastly, Tips for Saving Money While Eating Healthy on Tour.

The song leading into the Giovanni interview is…..

It Don’t Mean a Thing” from Giovanni’s “Worldwide” album and “Mojo Cubano” by (friend of the show) Ralph Irizarry and Timbalaye from the “Best Kept Secret” album.

The show Damon was in in London was called Blast! He went to see the show “Don Alias and Friends”. That show ended up touring through England and the show Damon saw featured: Don Alias-percussion, Steve Berrios-drums/percussion, Giovanni Hidalgo-percussion, Alex Acuna-percussion, Carlos Benevolent-bass, Danilo Perez-piano, Mitch Stein-guitar, Randy Brecker-trumpet, Michael Brecker-tenor sax.

don alias and friends.jpg
Don Alias Line up.jpg

Damon will dig up the shirtless Giovanni pic at some point.

After Puerto Rico, Giovanni spent time in California. His uncle TIto Garcia was a singer and helped introduce him to John Santos who gave Giovanni a chance to play at 9 years old. (This video of Gio and John is way later)

Giovanni brings up the group Tito Puente and the Golden Latin Men of Jazz Live at the Village Gate which was recorded in April 1992. The album features: Tito Puente-timbales, Paquito De Rivera-alto sax, Claudio Roditi-trumpet, Mongo Santamaría-congas, Mario Rivera-tenor/soprano sax, Dave Valentín-flute, Hilton Ruiz-piano, Andy González-bass, Giovanni Hidalgo-congas, & Ignacio Berroa-drums. You can listen to the whole album by CLICKING HERE.

Giovanni started playing congas when he was three and reading music when he was eight. His first teacher was his father, José Manuel Hidalgo, also known as "Mañengue”.

Some of the encounters Giovanni mentions are Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, and Mickey Hart and his Planet Drum group.

Giovanni mentions his teachers. His father was the first one, and his step-grandfather Francisco Hernandez “Nando”. Side note, “Nando” was a very good friend of Marcos Lopez’s grandfather, Sammy Ayala. David Rosado Cuba was a friend that Gio would play with often as well as David “La Mole” Ortiz, Anthony Carrillo, Willito Lopez, and others practicing to albums for up to 8hrs a day. They would practice to records on the normal speed (33, 1/3) and then speed them up to the 45 speed and practice some more. Also, he would play for one hour straight without stopping.

(Security comes over and makes sure we have permission to be in an area of the hotel recording).

Giovanni talks about his new venture of playing music for seniors or children with disabilities. Going to see them live or recording videos for them too.

September 7th, 1977 Giovanni discovered how to play rolls with his hands on the congas. He was about 13/14 years old. We also find out 7 is his lucky number. He was born premature at 7 months.

When Gio starts talking about joining Batacumbele at 16, he mentions Angel “Cachate” Maldonado as being another great conga player.

Giovanni walks us through some of the groups he played with over the years. He started with conjunto quimahue about age 8-9. Then Roberto Roena and the Apollo Sound, then to Mario Ortiz about 11. At 13 he played with Charlie Palmieri. Luigi Texidor follows that and then onto Batacumbele. A year with Zaperoco.

Giovanni shouts-out some great conga players that have passed on.

After Zaperoco (still playing with Batacumbele), Gio then started playing with Eddie Palmieri.

Next was Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Valentin, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, from there Dizzy Gillespie and the United Nations Jazz Orchestra, and that was the catalyst to Giovanni recording his own solo albums. Fast forward to April of 1992, Gio gets the call from Tito Puente for the Village Gate recording session.

The Planet Drum group with Mickey Hart changed to the Global Drum Project.

Giovanni was home and got a call from McCoy Tyner for his Latin All Stars group. Michel Camilo recorded on Giovanni’s album, and then Gio was invited to be part of a trio led by Michel called “Mano Y Mano”.

August 3, 2019 is going to be the anniversary concert in Santurce Puerto Rico, for the album by Humberto Ramierez and Giovanni called “Best Friends” (It also features Oskar Cartaya on bass & Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez on drums). You can hear one of the tunes here…..

Be on the lookout for an album by Giovanni that will be a “Tribute to the King”, Tito Puente. He recorded it in 2015 and will release it in the future (hopefully in 2019). We also learned that he has a vault of recordings that he will release at some point. If you want to listen to Giovanni in the meantime, you can pick up any one of these recordings HERE.

Damon brings up the duo album “Traveling Through Time” that Giovanni recorded with Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez.

Some of the drumset players Gio mentions that he enjoys are Peter Erskine, Steve Gadd and Greg Bissonette among several others.

The group Giovanni brings up featuring “Negro” is Volcan which also features Gonzalo Rubacalba and (Jose) Armando Gola in addition to Giovanni.

Marcos (Lopez) asks who are some of the main influences that inspired Giovanni. Giovanni mentions Rafael Cortijo and talks a bit about traditional Puerto Rican rhythms like Bomba and Plena. Then he talks about another unsung hero of traditional Puerto Rican music, Jesus Cepeda. Here’s an example of the rhythm hoyo de mula that Gio mentions.

Moving to more “modern” music, Giovanni recorded percussion on D’Angelo’s “Spanish Joint”. We would first suggest listening to the ACOUSTIC DEMO of the song before you listen to the FINAL PRODUCT featuring D’Angelo-vocals, Roy Hargrove-trumpet, Charlie Hunter-8 string guitar (and bass-no overdubs), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson-drums, Giovanni Hidalgo-congas and Talib Kweli-percussion. After D’Angelo, Giovanni got to work with the great George Duke. He then talks about other music he likes to listen to including classical music which he studied in school in 1978-1979 as a kid. He brings up the song “Suite No 2 For Flute & Jazz Piano Trio” by Claude Bolling, performed by Jean Pierre Rampal on flute.

Giovanni uses Latin Percussion instruments and has signature series congas, bongos and djembe. Zildjian Cymbals, Evans drumheads, Audix microphones, Boomwhackers,

The song leading out of the interview is “Blue Minor” off of Giovanni’s “Worldwide” album.

#114 Brad Dutz- Multi-Percussionist & Faculty at Cal State Long Beach!

#114 Brad Dutz- Multi-Percussionist & Faculty at Cal State Long Beach!