Raul Pineda–it is a name which is synonymous with greatness. If you are drummer, catching a gig or even a rehearsal of this overly innovative Cuban-Latin drummer is a treat. Nominated for 3 Grammys and winning a 2000 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Performance (with the Chucho Valdés Quartet album), Raul has introduced many to his fluent and effortless style of playing.
Not surprisingly, many in the business have taken note and have offered their support for this fine musician. His biggest backer? DW Drums. To prove it, a quick glimpse of Raul’s drum kit tells you why. The folks at DW–led by Don Lombardi and John Good–have put together a phenomenal office for Raul to do his work.
Indeed, one of the intricate and unique aspects of Raul’s kit (and his playing) is his foot work and particularly, Raul’s integration of a cowbell which is played with his left foot. I wasn’t the first person to watch Raul play and wonder where was his percussionist was only to find out it is really his left leg I am hearing.
Editor’s note: Another major supporter of Raul is Audix microphones (which is also a favorite of ours here at Beato’s Blog). To check out Audix’ profile on Raul, please visit their website.
So, when when we had the chance to sit down and spend some time with this musical gentle giant, we jumped on it. Raul and his ever supporting (and musically talented as well) wife, Nydia, were extremely gracious and they opened up their home to us so we could chat with Raul without the distraction of Raul’s busy and demanding schedule. In a moment, you are going to hear Raul talk about his growing up in Cuba, his influences, his understanding of other styles of music, and, much much more.
But first, an observation. The most startling aspect of Raul’s playing is his fluidity. He plays effortlessly and often looks as relaxed as someone who is reading a newspaper. This aspect immediately drew my attention to find out just how he does it. How do he do so much yet he is so relaxed?
To understand what we are talking about, check out this short clip:
After spending time with Raul, the answer to the smoothness of his playing became apparent; it is his great knowledge of music–and not just his instrument but also all the instruments around him. Raul knows the importance of time and space and how to use it regardless of whether he’s playing in a group or embarking on a monster solo.
In the end, Raul brings so much as a performer starting with his diverse styles of play, his knowledge of many different cultures, his knowledge of his trade and his pure love–and respect–for music. Add to that Raul’s pleasant and polite down to earth personality, and he could be a favorite player for many drummers.