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Arranging the Latin Jazz Rhythm Section

Workshop by Mark Towns
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In his workshop, Arranging the Latin Jazz Rhythm Section, Mark Towns covers basic rhythmic fundamentals of some of the most common traditional Latin Rhythms, including:

  • Mambo
  • Bossa Nova
  • Cha Cha Cha
  • Cumbia
  • Merengue
  • Samba
  • Danzůn
  • GŁajira
  • Bolero
  • GŁagŁanco
  • Bomba
  • Tango


    Discussion topics in 'Arranging The Latin Jazz Rhythm Section' include:

    • Basic Latin music terminology
    • Patterns for each rhythm section instrument and how they interact
    • Piano montunos
    • Jazz comping over Latin rhythms
    • When the drums play 'up' vs. 'down'
    • Bass tumbaos
    • The guitar's role when playing with the piano vs. without the piano
    • The importance of the clave
    • Typical Salsa and Latin Jazz song structure
    • Typical Latin chord progressions and tags
    • Breaking down a piece of music into sections
    • Miscellaneous percussion instruments and their role

    Mark Towns has been performing, composing, and arranging Latin music for over 25 years. A virtuoso performer in both the Latin and Jazz idioms on the Spanish and electric guitars, Cuban tresillo, Puerto Rican cuatro, Peruvian charango, and the bass, he's performed with Latin legends Yomo Toro (from the Fania All-Stars), flutist Dave Valentin, Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes, and Grammy winning arranger Oscar Hernandez, as well as jazz giants Larry Coryell, Hubert Laws, Pharoah Sanders, Kirk Whalum, among others. In addition to having performed and recorded with various Salsa, Brazilian, and other Latin bands, Mark leads his own Latin Jazz Band and performs regularly in Los Angeles and Texas, as well as having recently performed in New York, Mexico, Peru, and Costa Rica. Mark Towns has produced several Salsa and Latin Jazz CD's by various artists, including his own critically acclaimed albums 'Flamenco Jazz Latino' with Hubert Laws and Kirk Whalum, and 'Passion' with Hubert Laws.

    Mark Towns is also a record label owner (Salongo Records), a music publishing company owner (Selim Sound), a music journalist (Houston Press, All About Jazz L.A.) and is a Recording Academy voting member for the Grammys and the Latin Grammys. Mark Towns currently resides in Los Angeles and Houston.