NPR logo Larry McDonald: The Sound Of The Waves

Larry McDonald: The Sound Of The Waves

'Mento in 3' by Larry McDonald

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Reggae percussionist Larry McDonald recently got the chance, at age 70, to record his first solo album after a 40-year career as a session player and member of the bands Dub Is a Weapon and the Rocksteady 7. He'd long thought that the rocks in the caves of Jamaica's Green Grotto sounded like gongs, so when he started putting Drumquestra together, he taped the sound the rocks made as the waves hit them and he struck them with drumsticks.

Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Mento in 3"
  • Artist: Larry McDonald
  • CD: Drumquestra
  • Genre: Reggae

Larry McDonald's instrumental "Mento in 3" feels as unforced as a backyard jam, yet as carefully textured as a movie soundtrack. courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of the artist

Larry McDonald's instrumental "Mento in 3" feels as unforced as a backyard jam, yet as carefully textured as a movie soundtrack.

courtesy of the artist

That gentle ringing forms the base for "Mento in 3," an instrumental that feels as unforced as a backyard jam, yet as carefully textured as a movie soundtrack. The sounds of the rocks and the crash of the waves open the piece, with McDonald's voice outlining a tune with a wordless "Ba boom boom, boom boom." Airy layers of rattles, thumb piano, shakers and pretty much anything that can be struck or shaken add layers of beautiful richness, while a sample of a shouted "Unh!" peppers the arrangement as percussively as the instruments. "Mento in 3" closes with a vibraphone coda that balances out the voices and the waves, fading and retreating the way the surf does as it reluctantly leaves the shore.

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Drumquestra

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Album
Drumquestra
Artist
Larry McDonald
Label
MCPR Music
Released
2009

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