We recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Loop Loft artist and Brazilian drummer extraordinaire, Celso Alberti. In this interview he shares some great insights into incorporating loops in productions and live performances, as well as some of his career highlights and current projects.
(The Loop Loft) Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
(Celso Alberti) There are so many bands and musicians that I love but I would say that I was a big fan of the English Progressive Rock music early on in my career. Bands like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and so on. They all had great drummers and awesome compositions.
Then when I moved to the US I started to listen to all kinds of contemporary jazz, Chick Corea, Weather Report, Return To forever, Airto & Flora Purim and a lot of great Brazilian music too, like Ellis Regina, Milton Nascimento, Egberto Gismonti, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Giberto Gil and so many others.
What are some of your career highlights?
I've been very fortunate to be able to play with some great people on my musical journey and working with Airto & Flora Purim was definitely one the highlights for sure. They are such incredible musicians and I learned a lot with them. Airto is like a brother to me and the funny thing is that we are from the same hometown, Curitiba.
The other highlight was playing with flutist Herbie Mann. Although it was a short period I will always remember Herbie as one of the kindest person that I ever met. I remember our first gig so clearly. He sent me the charts with the music and flew me to Oregon for the gig. We met backstage before the concert and we just went over the form of the tunes and he said that I would be fine. Talking about trust!! And so we hit our first gig with no rehearsal and it went great!!
And of course getting to play with Steve Winwood was a major highlight for me. I was going to London every year to play with guitarist Jose Neto at Ronnie Scotts and Steve used to show up to watch the show. He loves Latin and World music so he became a big supporter of the band. Him and Jose Neto started to collaborate musically and so they started a partnership that has lasted until this day. In 2005 Steve was in need of a drummer for his US tour and he called me to join the band. That was simply awesome!
Steve Winwood Tour
Can you tell me a little bit about the sessions you recorded for The Loop Loft?
I recorded the tracks at my home studio with a collection of Audix mics and a mix of different preamps. The interface was a Digi 002 modified by Black Lion, and I used Protools as my DAW. For the mixing stage I used mostly Waves plug-ins, which sounds great!
What are the origins of some of the different grooves?
The grooves that I played comes from different regions of Brazil. On this Volume 1 mostly from the North East and Rio. On Volume 2 there will be grooves from the Southern part of Brazil as well as some odd meter stuff. And of course originally they all came from different regions of Africa brought to Brazil by the Portuguese during the slave trade era.
In the studio
What types of percussion instruments did you use?
The percussion was all Brazilian and included an array of instruments like the Pandeiro, Caxixi, Triangle, Shakers, Repinique, Tamborin, Agogô, Surdo etc.
How do you utilize loops and samples in your own productions and live performances?
I've been always a fan of new technology and how to incorporate it into my work in general. For the studio production loops are a great starting point for a rhythmic idea and to inspire further creativity. Sometimes I'll add live elements to it to create movement and emotion on the tracks.
As far as live performances I use pads like the Drumkat or the Roland SDS to trigger loops running in Ableton's Live program. The main thing about using loops live is that you have to be able to hear them well so usually I have an in ear system with click tracks and loops going into it. If used well and tastefully, the addition of loops on a live gig can really take your performance to a whole different level.
What projects are you currently working on? Any new albums or tours coming up?
I've been playing with a few different artist and doing some producing as well. I can say that I really enjoy working with contemporary jazz guitarist Joyce Cooling and producing a talented young singer from Canada named Zahira Soul. Also I just finished tracking drums for ace Lebanese guitarist Tony Khalife and going into the studio to record with guitarist Jose Neto, currently playing with Steve Winwood.
Celso, Thank you for taking the time to chat with us and for giving us a closer look into your amazing musical career.