Shanti Jayasinha is a well-established trumpeter based in London, playing a wide range of music from around the world. He was a serious ‘cellist in his youth but gave it up when he discovered jazz. A few years ago, he wondered what would happen if he worked on his cello – would he be able to get his technique back or would his fingers be too stiff? Four years later he has worked out some interesting skills on cello. Being very experienced in Latin and Brazilian music, he uses it like a guitar or bass, even playing Cuban piano patterns.

In today’s workshop he brought a couple of tunes – ‘Berimbau’ by the Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell and ‘Goza Mi Mambo Cubano’ by Cuban bassist Cachao. We started by ear, getting comfortable with the syncopation of Samba, first tapping it on our knees, then playing a couple of chordal parts in our cellos. We learned how the bass line works, then added the melody of Berimbau. It took a while to get comfortable with the basic Samba syncopations, but Shanti eventually got us really grooving! Each of us improvised while everybody else held the rhythm down, so we ended up with a good arrangement.

After the break it was time to discover a fabulous Cuban tune. There were enough different lines weaving together for everyone to have their own individual line – the piano and bass lines sounded like they were having a conversation, and the other parts built up to a tapestry of sound. Finally the flute line came  in at the highest range of the cello and called everyone into a unison phrase. We all got another chance to improvise and that was the end of our session.

Shanti is playing a special concert with his Brazilian trio enlarged to a 5-piece band with special guests Rowland Sutherland on flute and Andres Lafone on bass at the Café in the Crypt, St Martin-in-the-fields at 8pm on Wednesday 10th June. If you use SHANTI20 at checkout you will get 20% off (until April 8th).
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