Latin Roots: The Infectious Power Of Montuno

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6 min 14 sec
 
Rodrigo Y Gabriela perform music with a montuno basis. i i

hide captionRodrigo Y Gabriela perform music with a montuno basis.

Courtesy of the artist
Rodrigo Y Gabriela perform music with a montuno basis.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela perform music with a montuno basis.

Courtesy of the artist

Playlist

  • Eddie Palmieri, "Conmigo"
  • Rodrigo Y Gabriela, "Diablo Rojo"

In today's Latin Roots segment we're looking at montuno, a kind of syncopated piano vamp often used in traditional Cuban music, and tumbao, what the piano is doing when the pianist performs montuno. A vamp is a repetitive musical accompaniment or phrase found in jazz, gospel, soul and musical theater — the equivalent of a riff in rock music or a loop in hip-hop. The literal translation of montuno is "from the mountains," and it is often at the heart of Cuban dance music, giving piano players a range of harmonizing phrases to use.

David Dye talks with NPR Music reviewer Tom Moon as they play a couple of montuno-based songs from such well-known artists as Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Eddie Palmieri. Moon has experience playing Latin music as a professional saxophonist, and he gives insight into what it takes to reshape traditional music into something new.

Listen to a montuno and tumbao playlist on Spotify.

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