In my youth as a drummer/percussionist, I had always been a "roots musician." By this, I refer to a concerted effort to learn and maintain ancient traditions of religious and folkloric drumming rituals. These were mainly imported to the Americas by the African slaves from various cultures of the old continent.
During the early 1970s, in this quest for ancient knowledge, I collected and analyzed a vast collection of African and Caribbean L.P. records and researched/studied all of the ethnomusicology documentary micro-films at the Smithsonian Institution the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I also practiced constantly, alone and with my drumming buddies of the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area! Actual physical rehearsing time was always between six and nine hours a day.
In 1975, I befriended the legendary Cuban master drummer, Julito Collazo, thus beginning an intense two-year apprenticeship. At the time, Julito was the only person in the USA who mastered the entire Afro-Cuban secular and religious folkloric traditions, particularly the complex rhythmic structure of the Batá drums. It was under his strict and protective guidance that I worked my way up - through total commitment and dedication - from student to a fundamental member of his intimate performing crew.
In 1980, during the easing of U.S. and Cuban relations, leading to the Mariel Boatlift, Julito visited Cuba for the first time since the mid-1950s. While there, he was officially ordained as a "Babalawó" (High Priest) in the afro-Cuban "Lucumí" ("Santeria") religion, and upon returning to New York,,, he dedicated himself towards serving his community in this new capacity. He retired from drumming and encouraged me to "branch out and extend my horizons" in all types of music and arts. I took him at his word.
During this precise time, most popular drummers and percussionists were facing a new and powerful musical threat: the advent of programable Drum Machines! From the Roland TR-808/909 series, which first hit the market in 1980, drummers and percussionists were losing gigs to keyboardists and producers who could now program complex beats and rhythms for entire albums. Contrary to many of my colleagues who took a political aversion to this new technology, I embraced it!
My idea was to marry the ancient musical traditions that I had spent years researching and absorbing with the new electronic possibilities which had invaded the studio recording scene. But, I also wanted to take this new technology with me to the stage, for use in "live" performances, asap! In this effort, I devoured the manuals of all my friends who had acquired such machines and eventually purchased my first Drum Machine: the Yamaha RX-5. There have been quite a few more since then, and living with them has brought me to refining my performance concept, which I baptized in 1984 with the name "Techno-Primal Percussion." As it is, my publishing company today is still called "Techno-Primal Music," and this fusion of the old and the new - the ancient and the futuristic - is a concept that has spread into many more facets of my life. I genuinely believe that I am still refining a Techno-Primal style of living!
Living in NYC for 40 years while owning an excellent apartment on the corner of Central Park West and Cathedral Ave. Really afforded my wife and me a unique perspective of being a part of the Capital of the Planet! While I ran most of my daily errands either by subway ("techno") or by bicycle ("primal"), my main focus in dealing with the city was to spend my later years based in an easy-going tropical country. While I hustled in the music business out of New York, I always envisioned living on a tropical beach ("primal") while remaining connected ("techno") in real-time to the rest of the world. Which is what I am doing, as we speak.
My modern tropical home, designed according to the ancient principles of Indian Vastu (Sthapatya Veda) architecture ("primal"), is a stone's throw from our private beach and located approximately 100 minutes south of Rio de Janeiro. From here, we enjoy all multi-media entertainment comforts such as cable and satellite T.V., radio, and the internet ("techno"). We can dash in-and-out of the city in a couple of hours, whenever necessary.
Instead of waking up to traffic noise, we wake up to the sound of birds. And, nested in this oceanside, tropical sanctuary, I composed and realized all of the pre-production of my latest CD album, "Latin Lounge." I've also been able to record ("techno") percussive participations in many music projects from all over - the latest one being for a guitarist friend based in Moscow.
There's nothing better than putting food on one's table that one has planted and cultivated oneself! And, living in a climate that is always warm has facilitated this option. As such, we have grown and enjoyed our own citrus fruits, as well as papayas, bananas, mangos, blackberries, and avocados. Besides our herb and spice garden, we've also got collard greens, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and other exotic edible leaves such as "João-Gomez" and Ora-Pro-Nobis (also known locally as "Lobloblô"). We obtain other items from local Farmer's Markets ("primal") and have international wine and other things delivered to our door ("techno") through various apps on our phones.
We're "partially vegetarian," or rather, our diet more closely resembles the traditional "Mediterranean Diet," as it's primarily based on fruits, legumes, greens, nuts, yogurt & kefir, cheese, pasta, eggs, and grains. Once in a while - maybe once a month or so - we have some fish or seafood.
Health & Fitness
I'd really have to state that the radiant health that I presently enjoy directly results from my diet and my physical training rituals. And, while I'm happy to admit that I haven't set foot inside a conventional structured gym in twenty years, I do adhere religiously to a regular daily workout schedule.
What I believe is still working for me consists primarily of body-weight calisthenic exercises and ocean swimming. Daily Tai Chi practice, TRX suspension training, circular weight training, Krav Maga rounds out my fitness routine. By body-weight calisthenics, I refer to the very basic ("primal") four: pushups, squats, pullups, and ab contractions. As such, I've got, on average, twenty variations of each to be constantly "surprising and challenging" my musculature.
I don't run much anymore, to spare myself of the pavement pounding, so what I've traded that for is power walks on hilly streets and jump rope sessions, which are either timed (…like boxing rounds!) or numbered (…as in 10 sets X 300 revolutions). My ocean swimming habit was established to strengthen my SCUBA diving hobby. I am internationally certified as a PADI Divemaster, with over 350 technical deep submersions all around the globe. Nowadays, because of some eyesight issues, I've retired from professional SCUBA diving while maintaining the habit of ocean swimming and occasional free-diving for the fitness aspect.
I've been enjoying my practice of Tai Chi Chuan, a ("primal") Chinese "internal" martial art daily ever since I first began learning it in 1970. Not a day has gone by since my first lesson at "Lin's Kung-fu," in Silver Spring, Md., that I haven't practiced Tai Chi for at least an hour a day! As its name implies ("Supreme Ultimate Boxing"), this system is much more than a self-defense method, for it functions at the core of cellular regeneration, strengthening the nervous, skeletal, and circulatory systems while being a discipline of "meditation in movement." To me, the self-defense aspect is a bi-product of what is really a practical total-body healing and rejuvenating philosophy.
Prone to seeking a yin-yang balance in everything I do, after practicing Tai Chi for 30 years, I dove head-first into the training and mastery of the most modern (techno) martial arts system: Israeli Krav Maga. While Tai Chi is ("primal") soft, circular and elegant, Krav Maga is hard, fast, linear, and savage. Like Tai Chi in that it doesn't answer strength with strength, it is designed to effectively counter all types of attacks, especially those with modern weapons, and quickly incapacitate the aggressor!
Krav Maga's curriculum and technique syllabus is perpetually designed to be continually refreshed yearly, based on information obtained ("techno") from the actual field of battle. Effectiveness assessment reports are relayed to the International Krav Maga Federation headquarters from the Israeli Army Special Forces squads, informing which techniques are effective in real-world situations. The methods are either re-tested and adjusted or discarded from the syllabus.
Most modern gyms have universally adopted the linear weight-lifting style, usually done in Olympic competitions. The Nautilus and Universal weight machines available for use in most modern gyms are also designed to promote the lifting and movement of progressive weight resistance along a linear path.
What I have incorporated into my fitness routines are methods that date back thousands of years - back to the Vedic civilizations of India and Iran - which involve the lifting and swinging of weight. Circular Weight Training refers to the ("primal") use of Indian Clubs, Persian Meals, and heavy Maces, all of which vary in weights and sizes.
The principal benefit of this concept is providing progressive resistance to the muscles, therefore contributing to their improvement in size and tone. The circular swinging also lubricates and strengthens one's ligaments and sinews, taxes, and builds upon the body's aerobic capacity… all while simultaneously challenging one's mind in the process. As one progresses in skill and strength, the circular pathways inevitably become more intricate and intellectually demanding.
To this ("primal") Indian and Iranian Circular Weight Training, as well as to my Body-Weight Calisthenics, I also add the modern ("techno") concept of Japanese Tabata High-Intensity Interval Training. About once or twice a week, I perform a session in the Tabata style of training. Tabata training was discovered by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Izumi Tabata, and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Dr. Tabata was trying to create a program that would benefit the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating team.
After much study and research, it was found that the short 20 second intervals with a rest of 10 seconds immediately following proved beneficial in the athletes' performance. As such, an optimal "Tabata" HIIT session lasts only four minutes in total. If performed correctly, with the 20-second intervals done at absolute maximum speed and power, one should be completely spent and exhausted and basically unable to perform any more physical exercise. An added benefit of this extreme physical exertion is that one's body will continue metabolically accelerated (and burning fat) for the next 48 hours. And, this is why these Tabata sessions are only performed once or twice per week!
Further rounding out my Techno-Primal lifestyle are the ("primal") practices of Transcendental Meditation and Buddhist chanting, both of which I practice twice a day. As both of these practices date back thousands of years in time, they quickly fall into the "primal" category. These ancient disciplines are enhanced by modern ("techno") procedures through the use of the internet, which can assist in logging one's practice time, connecting to online guidance sessions, and creating local and worldwide communities of like-minded people.
And, returning full-circle to my original concept of Techno-Primal Music, the ("primal") traditional method of learning and composing music, using pencil and paper has been enhanced by the wide availability of a multitude of software that facilitates these processes. It's gotten to the point where people who cannot yet read or write musical notation or play a conventional musical instrument are actually composing popular songs on their smartphones that get broadcast over radio and television! And, here again, I embrace both the traditional and futuristic concepts of musical knowledge acquisition, improvement, and composition wholeheartedly and without any prejudice!
As such, some of the grooves that I composed over for my latest CD album, "Latin Lounge," initiated on ("techno") "groove apps" on my iPhone, were later to be sampled into the Logic program in my MacBook Pro laptop. Horn lines and keyboard and guitar riffs - while initially performed/written in Logic via my midi keyboard-were later written/printed on paper for the musicians to perform them "live" in the studio. "Latin Lounge," indicated for a 2020 Latin Grammy is for sure the highest example of my Techno-Primal Music concept.