Santana and Mabouya - Comments from Ken Watters

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Santana and Mabouya - Comments from Ken Watters

Post by Guysanto » Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:43 am

Here are two YouTube links to Santana playing Mabouya (which they call "Foo Foo"), followed by some comments from Ken Watters (a prolific American Jazz musician and long-time horn player for Tabou Combo). I found the comments very interesting:


[quote]It's indeed very cool to watch Santana play this Tabou classic tune during one of their concerts.

HOWEVER, at groovin' as it is (in their own way), Santana's band couldn't really play true Konpa (as this song DEMANDS) if their lives depended on it.

Check it out: The drummer needed to study Tabou's unique style of konpa much harder (he ain't getting it), the bassist needed some lessons from Yves in which notes to mess with, which notes to play really EMPHASISE, and on his note lengths (Yves is a MASTER at playing perfectly-separated notes in a Konpa groove)...

And, their rhythm guitarist would've done himself a favor by checking out some J.C. Jean style comping...

Just a few more things, then I'll stop with the criticism...
Plus, it would've been very cool if someone in the horn section has at least ASKED before not only recording the horn section breaks that we wrote, but playing them at every live gig they did!

Other than that, I really enjoyed that! Seriously, I did -- I'm not just talking crap. For a non-Konpa band, they did a fairly acceptable imitation of Mabouya... Better than some young Konpa bands (with computers acting as the rhythm section, I mean)...


Ken Watters
followed by these additional comments:
[quote]Hi again, folks!

I need to make a correction in the statement that I made regarding the Mabouya horn parts that I simply stated that "we" wrote (meaning the early - mid 1990s incarnation of Tabou's horn section) -- the BULK of the horn parts for Mabouya were written by saxophonist James Kelly (who played with Tabou from 1978 to 1984) & trombonist Glenn Ferris. I'm talking about the intro, the staccato parts immediately following & ALL other horn parts in the song with the exception of the HIGHLY exposed breaks in the middle...

The specific lines that I was referring to in my email response were the four featured horn section breaks (each of which was 6-counts long) that happen immediately after Santana's guitar breaks toward the middle of the song. We, the early to mid-1990s section, literally composed the breaks immediately before a Zenith concert in Paris. One was composed by Tom Mitchell, one by Jason Forsythe, one by Pete Macnamera & one by myself. the concert was NOT recorded for any kind of release that we were made aware of, so somehow a board mix was procured & handed to the Santana crew. The transcriptions were far too accurate to have been recorded on a concealable Walkman, etc. of that era...

Again, I commend the person who wrote out what we played -- practically verbatim. The OTHER parts (by James Kelly & Glenn Ferris) were, unfortunately, not quite as accurate...

My apologies to both Mr. Kelly & Mr. Ferris for neglecting to credit them with what is truly the BULK of the horn arrangement on Mabouya.

Note to Santana's crew - thou shalt not steal (at least not without giving credit where credit is due!)...

Anyway, that's it from me. I truly LOVE this music & this is WAY more negativity than I am in this ballgame for...

Very best,
Ken Watters

Ken Watters

It is interesting to see musicians defending their turf, but doing it with congeniality. I have gained some additional insight and understanding of the music world by reading those simple notes. I have gained no such insights from past rivalries between Sweet Mickey and Top Vice, Sicot and Nemours, to name just those two. I know, I know, this was just P.R., part of the show.

But while Ken felt he had to defend the integrity of "Mabouya" and the many arrangements that went into it, he did not give in to as much negativity as he thinks he has. In fact, he shows a lot of respect for Haitian musical genius, and coming from a successful jazz musician, that means a lot. I am glad that he was not above acknowledging the profound influence exerted on him by good Haitian Konpa, and great Haitian musicians and music bands of which Tabou Combo has been a stellar example.

By the way, Tabou Combo is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Can you believe? Boy, am I getting old!

1968 was a good year! I was 16 and remember it like yesterday... Tabou Combo, Mabouya, and my first "real" girlfriend...

Why can't we bottle "youth" and make it last forever?

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