Restarting again our usual reviews, this time we return with a special guest, the virtuous and spectacular Venezuelan percussionist Gerson Aranda, who kindly gave us this interview from the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is currently based.
Gerson Aranda Rodil was born on March 8, 1973, in the Concepción Palacios maternity hospital in the parish of San Juan, Caracas.
He is the son of Pedro Aranda and Ana Teresa Rodil. Gerson, welcome to the salsa column that is currently at the forefront of Afro-Caribbean music worldwide and in which our Venezuelan musicians make themselves known, project themselves and share their artistic life with our regular readers.
To begin with, we want to know how did you get started in music and who were your mentors? -Thank you Professor Carlos Colmenárez for this opportunity that you give me to share with my dear brothers from my country and other countries around the world. Well, I have been a musician since I can remember, thanks to my parents, brothers, cousins and uncles.
Since I was very young, my father Pedro Aranda, was the founder of the Sonero Clasico del Caribe, who recorded the first two productions of this famous group, which celebrated my birthday, since my father always brought them to my house.
I was raised in the parish of Catia, in Cútira and well, the whole neighborhood would come into my home to listen to the famous Sonero Clásico, and they would listen to the songs: Carmelina, Papá Montero, El enterrador and many more.
Well, since I was a child I had an interest in music, because at home they used to play those rumbas and I had the desire to play the congas and bongo.
But there was a tres player, a great friend of the family, who met a lot with my father, who was also a tres player, bassist and guitarist; then he saw my interest in percussion and took me to the Sarría school of the maestro Orlando Poleo, who saw me playing despite my young age, he told the tres player René Zambrano, let him always come, because he has interest and conditions and that’s when things started.
At that time those greats like Gerardo Rosales, José Martínez Viruta, Willian Troconis, Wladimir Rivero, Miguelito Urbina were studying and well in that concern I began to study theory and solfeggio with Professor Carlos Ramírez, in the “Tucosan” school and then I studied percussion with Professor Jesús Blanco, known as “El Totoño”. From there my musical career practically began and at the age of 13 I started playing professionally with “El Trabuco Venezolano”, Swing y Color, Magia Caribeña, Hildemaro, Trina Medina, Grupo Repicao, Los Incorregibles, Pasión Juvenil, Grupo Mango and many more orchestras.
Gerson, I understand that you accompanied Soledad Bravo musically and performed advertising jingles? Indeed Professor Carlos, I had the joy of playing with her and toured the world and let me tell you that at that time I did advertising jingles for products on television and radio.
-Gerson, you are known as “La Tabla”, referring also to your hard hands to play the tumbadoras with very accurate hits.
Now then, tell us, which international artists have you accompanied? Well my friend Carlos, I had the honor of accompanying Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Luigi Texidor, Junior González, Larry Harlow, Marvin Santiago, Willie Colón; among many; thanks to the fact that Naty and his Orchestra and Magia Caribeña, were the base orchestras for those artists.
I also played with Silva and Guerra, of Mauricio and Manuel. Hey Carlos, I also accompanied Justo Betancourt, Adalberto Santiago, Ismael Miranda, Andy Montañez, Jhonny Pacheco y Casanova, Pete Conde Rodríguez and others.
Gerson, what are your current projects in Argentina? -Carlitos, in Argentina I am well thank God, because I have a big band called “La Salsa Brava”, I play a lot and now with the problems with the COVID-19, everything is paralyzed, but I have been very active for three years in all the “boliches”, name given to the night clubs and I have accompanied Los Adolescentes, Rey Ruiz, Charlie Sepúlveda, Jimmy El León, Charlie Aponte, among many others.
My band is made up of Venezuelan, Argentinean, Colombian and Cuban musicians. I have earned respect and they call me “maestro”; I am also giving classes to advanced percussionists, with techniques of different genres and rhythms, unknown to them, since here what is known is the Cuban timba and salsa brava.
Excellent Gerson, apart from the full band, do you have other smaller formats? Yes, I have a sextet called “La Crisis”, because when there is not much money, we make it available and play music by Joe Cuba, Conjunto Libre and others. With “Salsa Brava” I am about to record my production, which I suspended due to my accident before coming to Buenos Aires and the other thing is that my comadre Indira Velasquez came over there and I made a Sonora Matancera format, which is called “Sonora Consoltura” and we have made several presentations and people are very happy with that genre, since they are getting to know what a pachanga, a danzón, among others, is.
Apart from that, I am also doing advertising jingles again. What can you tell us about the Tributo Orchestra and El Guajeo? -The thing about Tributo and Cheo, is that since I was very young I had the fortune that before Tributo and Bailatino existed, we formed the group “Repicao”, which was a school band formed by: Édgar Dolor Quijada, Tuky Torres, José Soto Mortadelo, Prisco Oropeza, Manuel Barrios, Cheo Navarro, Catú Rodríguez and myself, which we played emblematic themes and from here begins the affinity with Cheo and from there, then he arms Tributo and tells me to conform his staff, which was integrated by: Alberto Crespo, José Soto Mortadelo, Jhonny Rivero, Javier Vivas, Johán Muñoz, Eliel Rivero, Osquita, Marcial Istúriz, Édgar Dolor Quijada, Gonzalo Díaz, Rónald Gómez and my substitute is Miguel Urbina and we recorded several albums. They are my friends and we are still in contact, and with “El Guajeo”, the experience was wonderful with the great Alfredo Naranjo. Professor Carlos, I tell you in all honesty that the musical level in Venezuela is very superior and out of this world, with all due respect.
-Gerson, who are the members of your band of musicians in Argentina? Professor Carlos, it is made up of A Barquisimetana named Lauremys Vanesa on trombone, Catalina Keiti (trombone), Luis Sulbarán (trumpet), Bruno Espinola (trumpet), Ángel Vargas (piano), Bernardo Vásquez (bass), Esteban Leandro “El Puca” (singer), Felipe Figueroa (singer), Deiby Bandre (bongo), Martín Barrera (congas) and me on timbales; It’s my orchestra called “La Salsa Brava”, here in Buenos Aires.
Your social networks? My social networks are: [email protected] Instagram: Orquesta La Salsa Brava. Facebook: Gelson Aranda Musician. Cell: +54 911 36244963.
Well friend Gerson, for me it was a pleasure to have had you as the protagonist of this installment of Salsa Escrita “La Columna Salsera de Barquisimeto”, through International Salsa Magazine, www.salsagoogle.com and at the same time we wish you the greatest success and continue to represent us worthily outside our borders, giving “tabla” to percussion. Thank you professor and friend Carlos Colmenárez for this opportunity that you give to all the artists of Afro-Caribbean music to project us worldwide in your prestigious salsa column and may God bless and protect you greatly and you know that you count on your brother Gerson Aranda.
By: Professor MSc. Carlos Colmenárez Correspondent in Venezuela for International Salsa Magazine
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