by Alan Dworsky and Betsy Sansby
This book and the accompanying CDs and DVD are a complete, step-by-step course on conga drumming. This is the book we looked for but couldn't find when we were first learning to drum. We did everything we could to make it user-friendly, so even non-musicians could understand it. The book teaches families of drum parts for several authentic Afro-Caribbean rhythms, including rumba, bomba, calypso, conga, and bembe.
The instruction is clear and step-by-step, and the writing creates the intimate feel of private lessons. The charts are big and easy to read. Life-like illustrations clearly demonstrate proper technique for each stroke. And the CD that's included contains a sample recording of each of the 175 drum parts taught in the book as well examples of how the parts sound together.
The video uses the same step-by-step approach as the book, covering the same rhythms and many of the same parts from the first half of the book. The video format is especially good for visual learners. Nothing can beat it for demonstrating proper technique and conveying the excitement of actual ensemble playing.
The video features Jorge Bermudez, a talented, and warm-spirited Bay Area drummer and drum teacher. He demonstrates "mano secreta", the technique used by Cuban drummers to protect the hands and play with grace and fluidity. Each stroke is demonstrated with the aid of slow-motion photography. After three conga parts are taught for each rhythm, they're put together in sizzling ensemble performances you can play along with.
In those performances, special guest Raul Rekow of Santana solos on congas and bongos, while electrifying Cuban dancer Rosie Lopez Mores from the legendary Tropicana nightclub in Havana dances rumba in our Minnesota living room.
Finally, if you don't have a drum machine, the Practice Partner CD that comes with this package is the next best thing. It contains extended recordings of the son clave, rumba clave, and 6/8 cowbell (played slow, medium, and fast) to play along with while you practice.
Reviews of the book:
"There is no other source for this kind of information that is as simply and sensibly explained, and contains such a wealth of rhythms. Conga Drumming welcomes rather than intimidates beginners. Dig into this book and in a very short time you will be playing well. Bravo and muchas gracias Alan and Betsy!" DRUM Magazine
"Best Percussion Method Book" 2000 DRUM Magazine Readers' Poll
"Fantastic!" Rhythm Magazine
"The best book of its kind." Arthur HullReviews of the video:
"A must-see for all beginners" Mickey Hart
"The perfect addition to the book" Latin Beat Magazine
"Slammin! The best video for learning to play congas." Chalo Eduardo, percussionist with Sergio Mendes
"Few videos capture the spirit of fun as well as Conga Drumming. All the basics are covered and the educational information is interspersed with burning performances by the ensemble. When Rosie Lopez Mores is on screen the video is ablaze with energy. While there is much to be learned from Conga Drumming, it also provides a highly entertaining viewing experience that will inspire any beginning conga drummer." DRUM Magazine.