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Blues Guitar Lessons: Latin Blues

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Latin Blues.
Now we've talked about some different
versions of blues that
have Latin influence.
Even the slow blues with that.
That pattern in the bass.
New Orleans music, with the Treyco,
the base pattern that has
that Latin influence.
Bo Diddley, Latin influence.
But there was a more obvious Latin
influence in blues and that is,
a number of blues were cut over
the years by great blues artists.
B.B. King, Albert King, Otis Rush.
You can pretty much name anybody, and
they cut blues that had a Latin beat.
Going back to T-Bone Walker, he did
a track called, The Down Home Blues.
Had a real Latin groove to it.
So it's been a thread
through electric blues,
ever since practically the beginning.
And it's still today just one of
those kind of alternate rhythms
that give you a way to break it up.
If you play shuffles all night long it's
kinda like, okay, a little monotonous.
So blues artists throughout the years
have always mixed up their set lists with
different tempos and different feels,
and like any other artist you're trying
to keep people engaged by
giving them some variety.
So, here's one that you would here
famously on Albert King's Crosscut Saw,
for example, Otis Rush,
All Your Love (I Miss Loving).
BB King, Woke Up This Morning.
There's a New Orleans guitar
player named Snooks Eaglin.
Also know as Blind Snooks Eaglin.
He recorded a record in the late
50s playing solo acoustic guitar,
and it was called, Snooks Eaglin and
the New Orleans Street Performer.
And even though he was actually
a professional musician, played in bands,
played electric guitar, made records.
Because of that record made on acoustic
guitar, he became pretty well known.
And he played Latin style and
he played all kinds of different
grooves on there that were amazing.
And just kind of wrote the book
on how to play solo guitar
including the Latin feel which we're
going to talk about here in a minute.
So check out Snooks and
you'll be impressed no doubt.
So what is a Latin feel?
Well Latin music,
we should define our terms.
You saying Latin, and some people might
say you mean like Bossa Nova and Samba?
No that's Brazilian.
Yeah it's south of here, but
it's not what we call Latin.
When we say Latin we think of Afro Cuban.
And Afro Cuban music is basically
the music that mixed the African sound
with the Spanish sound to produce
what we now call Latin music.
So here's a typical example
of that Latin sound.
What I'm doing there is combining the bass
pattern with the chords to sort
of create the whole effect.
But what we call Latin music in
the context of blues is a very
narrow version of the style.
Latin, Afro Cuban music is gigantic
with millions of rhythms and
regional variations, and
so on, very complex.
But for blues purposes,
Latin is a version of the rumba.
Straight eighth notes, and
there's that little rolling
accent on the up beat of one.
So three, four, one,
Lets play it on the drums.
And when we translate that to
the guitar we're going to do it
a couple of different ways or
at least I'll give you
a couple of possibilities.
The bass pattern is very similar to what
we already learned some time ago for
the slow blues.
But it's laid against that rhythm in a way
that makes it feel a little bit different.
Almost invariably it's this pattern
right here in the key of G.
root third, fifth, sixth,
notes of the walking line, but syncopated.
And follow the changes,
four chord.
And so on.
So there's the bass pattern.
The drums going
so what can the guitar do?
Well, you've got a couple of choices.
One would be to double the bass line.
It's a pretty cool part, and
it sounds good when you play
it together with the bass.
Another one would be to play
more with the drums, and
don't worry about the bass,
so it'd be like this.
Two, three, four.
Yeah I'm sort of
capturing the bare outline
of the drum pattern.
Right, and just using alternate strumming
there to play the pattern,
following the changes.
I'm using G 6, C 9, D 9.
Another way to play it that
has the same general effect,
little bit different technique would be.
There I play the root and
it's a sweep, basically,
but done in tempo.
So all down strokes until you
come back for the next accent.
Again, the idea is just to find that drum
groove which we'll hear
when we hear the track and
just find your spot and settle in.
You don't have to play anything fancy,
nothing too obtrusive.
You can combine the bass and the drums.
This is another what we would
call the compound rhythm,
where you've got two parts in one.
If I'm playing a Latin groove with a bass
player and a drummer And I want to make
it sound a little bit bigger,
then I might do something like this.
you'd either have
the turnaround or
not depending on
the arrangement.
Now I'm using my thumb to
play the low bass note and
then fingering the sixth
chord right above it.
And it's a very loose pattern.
You wanna get into a groove where
you don't think about it too hard.
Now when I play the rest of the bass
notes, I'm using the muting technique.
So I finger the note.
I mute the other strings so
I can be loose with my right hand.
I don't have to pick it.
I can still continue to strum it.
Right, so the muting and
strumming idea or slapping,
that's the way to get that sound.
For the C nine chord I can just finger
it normally with my second
finger on the root.
And then move up into slapping for
the rest of the bass pattern.
D same thing.
That's kind of
a nice all around rhythm feel.
Very comprehensive style of groove.
And it works well in the blues,
Latin blues category.
Now a lot of these classic
Latin blues recordings,
they would alternate with shuffles.
So they do the Latin for a while then
all of a sudden the drummer would go.
And they'd bust into a shuffle.
Same tempo and
then go back to the Latin again.
It became sort of a fashion
to do that I suppose.
But the best known Latin
blues recording for
guitar players at least is
Albert Kings' Crosscut Saw.
And that is Latin from start to finish.
It's an interesting song.
Has an interesting story.
Was done in 1943 I think
by Tommy McClennan who
was a down home blues guitar player.
Played acoustic guitar and he's saying,
well I’m a crosscut saw,
well honey drag me cross your log.
Real down home, I mean like way down.
And Albert apparently dug that song and
when he was on Stax Records,
which was a Memphis label, best known for
very hip, urban, rhythm and blues.
Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs.
One of the hippest labels in the country,
in the early to mid 60s.
They did that song but they said,
well let's do it as a Latin feel.
It was like a total switch.
Completely changed the character of
the song, but it's the same lyrics,
same basic form and
it's really a showcase for Albert.
Now solo-wise,
what do you play over a Latin blues?
You don't really have
to think Latin at all.
It's just blues, right?
So the Latin part stops with the rhythm.
And the blues starts when
you start taking a solo.
Cuz that's what Albert did is he just
played stone cold minor pentatonic bend
the strings and
create that vibe Albert King sound
which he did on the next record he did
with a totally different beat, same licks.
He didn't really vary his style a lot.
So let's listen to the rhythm.
And then I'll take a solo, and
we'll talk after the dust settles.
Here we go.
we go
So I played the rhythm,
I played the compound rhythm there.
Which sounds good with the bass and
drums, sounds kind of full.
And you listen to the Albert King
arrangement, it's actually an Americanized
thing, they're not trying
to play Latin music at all.
The drum groove is Latin style and
the bass pattern is Latin style but
the horn section and
the keyboards are playing completely
different parts that you wouldn't find
ever in a Latin band, so it's really a
hybrid of all these different influences.
But I played the part and
it locks with the base and
drums, so that's the most
important thing right there.
Now solo wise, there's really isn't
a lot to stay that's like unique.
You just play the blues, and
I played sort of a little, just a tiny,
tiny sliver of the Albert style there.
What's amazing about his solo,
he takes two solos actually, on Crosscut.
It's the way that he sustains the notes.
He'll hit the note.
And he'll hang on to it longer,
like you're looking at your watch.
Like when is he gonna let that note go and
then finally bing he let's go and
it's on this funny beat and
it catches you by surprise.
It's just beautiful stuff.
Now he's playing with his
bare fingers of course.
He's upside down.
Got his funny tuning.
He's pulling the strings
down toward the floor.
His technique is all wrong but
he just, that solo is one of the great
classics of blues guitar without doubt.
I highly recommend that you would
sit down with Crosscut Saw and
actually work it out.
In other words, make that project
to learn how to play Crosscut Saw.
And I will warn you, you can't
really ever play it like Albert, for
a couple of reasons.
One's technical, you can't bend
the strings that far in this position.
You have to go up on the second string,
and as we looked at in the big bends
lesson, put your index finger on G.
That's your reference point.
Third finger at the 11th fret.
You're gonna have to work it
out up in there, and then move your
hand quickly back into position.
For his phrases that wind up
being only playable in
that spot down there.
It's a real challenge but
what it teaches you, what it taught me,
is attack, dynamics, economy, tone, touch.
I mean, what else is there?
Beautiful stuff.
And because it's a straight eighth
note groove those phrases are fairly
easy to translate into any other sort
of traditional non-shuffle style.
Blues rock for example, just killer stuff.
So, learn Crosscut Saw.
If you wanna take that project on,
I applaud you.
And I wanna see that video
of you playing Crosscut Saw.
Other than that, just go ahead and play
that rhythm and play a solo of your own
choosing and show me what you can do over
that beat cuz that's a cool beat to know.
Wanna add it to your repertoire.
All right, I'll see you next time.
>> [MUSIC]