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BEATBOY Richie Gajate-Garcia Authentic Latin Percussion and Drums (Mac/Win)

September 1, 1999

You're in the middle of a project, the clock is ticking, and you need some burning Latin percussion grooves-alas, no virtuoso player is available to provide them in due time. Beatboy's Richie Gajate-Garcia Authentic Latin Percussion and Drums disk ($49.95), from the company's Artist Signature Series, could be the answer. The floppy disk is filled with Standard MIDI Files that lay down some serious Latin rhythms, and it was put together by master percussionist and drummer Richie Gajate-Garcia, who is currently touring with Phil Collins's big band and has performed with Tito Puente, Diana Ross, and Hiroshima. You can also download the collection from Beatboy's Web site, and an audio sample CD is available for $69.95.

The Beats, BoyThe 25 grooves here come in the form of Standard MIDI Files and are presented in GM, XG, and GS formats for automatic mapping. A General MIDI Note Number table is provided to assist you in mapping to non-GM sound sources.

The emphasis here is on percussion, as opposed to a drum kit, and Gajate-Garcia gives you a wide range of standard Latin styles. You'll find salsa, cumbia, bolero, Haitian, songo, Afro-Cuban, merengue, and other styles of sequences, all of which were recorded using Clavia ddrum controllers.

The files average 64 bars long (between 18 and 116), and each contains some combination of intros and outros, verses, choruses, bridges, solos, and fills for plenty of diversity. A two-bar lead-in on each file also contains Program Change data, so the drum sounds in your GM module load automatically.

Using the Beats and BitsThe disk couldn't be easier to use. Open or import the file you want, copy and paste it into the desired location, assign those tracks to the MIDI channel that corresponds with your GM drum/percussion sounds (the default is channel 10), and off you go. Copy an eight-bar section and loop it; cut a small piece of a solo or break to fit into your tune, or use the entire file if you choose.

Appealing BeatsI used the excellent Sweetwater Total Stereo Session Drums GM programs for this review. They sounded great, and I couldn't help but pick up my bass and play along.

Everything here grooves solidly and with flair-don't think for a moment that a percussionist playing a MIDI kit detracts from the feel. Gajate-Garcia's playing exhibits the churning, powerful pocket and the polyrhythmic "lilt" that all great Latin percussionists have. The guaguanco, for example, is a hot salsa groove, with the kick bringing in the "one-ee-and-DA, two-ee-AND-da" bass rhythm a third of the way into the file. In this file the congas and bongos hold down the center of the groove while the hi-hat and agogo trade the cascara rhythm throughout; two-thirds of the way in, a cowbell enters and nails the quarter notes. You also get a timbale solo.

Final BeatAt $49.95, the disk is an excellent value-not only for electronic musicians but also as a practice tool for aspiring Latin-style instrumentalists. This is a terrific way to learn your Latin rhythms! A

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4


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