After the Independence Day party at the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya’s residence, we headed back to the Brookhouse School where professors Ron Reid and Dan Moretti gave clinics for Brookhouse students, musicians who had auditioned earlier in the week, and local musicians.
Here, Reid works with an ensemble – and gets the entire class to participate – on the first part of a song he just taught them. The song, “Ogu Aye,” is a traditional Yoruba chant.
In Moretti’s workshop, “Understanding and Communicating Styles for all Musicians,” he demonstrated some basic scat techniques he developed that are used to sing drum and bass grooves. The techniques help players better communicate their groove ideas in rehearsal and performance situations.
Along with this, a brief description was given about the relationships between West African rhythms and Western popular music. Students clapped and sang various rhythms from the Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, r&b, soul, funk and hip-hop styles, as well as Afro-Fusion and African Capuka styles.
The musical influences of these rhythms and the relationship of Son Clave and Rhumbas Clave to popular African and American music was discussed. Moretti played style examples from the new book “Essential Grooves,” and discussed and demonstrated performing and composing ideas in relation to these styles.
Later that evening – and after one short rehearsal prior – Reid and Moretti were guest artists at the final concert of the year given by Brookhouse students in the school’s B-Tech program. The talented students performed a mix of African songs and American pop songs like “Halo,” “Pretty Wings,” and “Aisha.”
Reid (bass) and Moretti (saxophone) perform “Tchefunkta,” by Stanton Moore, with Berklee student Joey Guglielmo (guitar) and Michael Oloyede (drums) from Nigeria, who will be attending Berklee in the fall through the Africa Scholars Program.