Looking at their first part, they introduce to us the Afro-Cuban Mambo, originally from Cuba, and the style they preferred in New York was the Mambo Batiri, a very fast mambo-rumba. We are introduced to famous Palladium Mambo dancers, i.e. Millie Donay and her partner Cuban Pete Aguilar who danced their Mambo Batiri intermixed with jazzdance (Swing, Tap, Bop) and flamenco moves and steps. The inventor of the Mambo Arsenio Rodrguez is honored and also John Pacheco belonged to the Alegre All Stars playing descargas based on the mambo, chacha- cha and son montuno/guajira. And this NY Mambo is making a kind of comeback.
So far Part 1 of La Epocha..
More to come..
PS: In Cuba they consider the mambo and the chachacha as son-derivates......
I did most of it. But to start a good discussion you have to give a good and honest summary of the movie. That's what I tried to do with my summary of part 1. It is about the famous Palladium days when they were dancing to Afrocuban music, and in particulary the Palladium Mambo. They try to explain what the basic rhythms of this Mambo were. Many people do not know and can not distinguish between a Son, Son Montuno, Rumba, Guaracha, Mambo and so on.
La Época Part II: Lost Rhythms in Salsa
We saw Part II. This film has some assets and some liabilities. We'll start with the liabilities:
The film runs well over two hours, which is a long run time for any documentary unless the material is edited tightly enough to consistently sustain interest throughout. We noticed that some of the footage used in Part II was also present in Part I. It's possible that the filmmaker did this in order to assure that viewers who missed Part I would still be exposed to a "common core" of material, but our opinion is that it would have been a better move to have more confidence in Part I of the series and dedicate the time in Part II to additional subject material or alternately reduce the run time by omitting some of the redundant footage, much of which was of dance instructors conversing (and possibly expendable in the second film).
Perhaps as a consequence of the already-long run time, only some of the rhythms - Son Montuno, Guaguancó, Guajira, Bolero, Danzon, Mambo - were distinctly covered in detail. Some of the time dedicated to other items could have been spent on some of the other rhythms and dance styles such as Son, Guaracha and Pachanga for example.
The film's emphasis on the contributions of Arsenio Rodríguez to the music is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's true that Arsenio was an extremely important figure who frequently doesn't get his due. One of the weaknesses of both Part I and Part II is that it doesn't really adequately address the Son as it developed in Cuba
There are, however, some strengths as well:
The rhythms (not the actual dance steps, but the rhythms) that are covered in the film are covered well enough for dancers to be able to identify the differences between them after watching the film. Although we wish that more had been portrayed in the film, on the whole, it did a good job with the material that it did choose to tackle.
The live music sequences are well done, and if they accomplished nothing else, they captured some of the bass technique of Alfonso (El Panameño) Joseph, a bassist who is less well-known today than he should be.
The archival dance footage should give today's dancers a great deal of food for thought about how they approach their styles now. It is also fun for even non-dancers to watch how it was done once upon a time.
I have such a low opinion of Pt.1 that nothing could induce me to invest in the sequel. However I'm pleased to learn that Pt.2 actually has some vintage dancing clips. I hope they're more substantial than the tiny overplayed snippets in Pt.1.
To me it is a disappointment that they did not pay attention to the following very important rhythms and dances:
as Son, Guaracha and Pachanga. And last but not least one of the weaknesses of both Part I and Part II is that it doesn't really adequately address the Son as it developed in Cuba...
So we do share some common opinions...
More to come...
I am so happy that I read this and all the responses and comments. It's very good for me to know who said what and how each of you said it. It was very, very educational and humbling for me to read. I continue my journey of developing in all areas of life. Blessings to each of you.
Yuca, thanks for the welcome - and thank you for your openness and honesty. I get it .. some simply don't like my films or music .. it's normal.
Of the six films released so far, about my first two films (2008 & 2011), wow ... I can see how some came to such conclusions and opinions, other points made are perhaps because I could have been much clearer and positive!! In the four films released since - I've tried my best and am so grateful to have exercised that courage; if I let the attitudes or the words or behaviors by all who share your high disdain for me - to discourage or stop me - then I couldn't say I tried my best, at the time.
About my attitude - I genuinely apologize to whomever I offended. It's been a long journey - and it's a continual self-reflection to see where to improve.
Certainly, nothing you can do or say to make it any clearer that you highly dislike my film & musical compositions, and that you harbor a very high disdain for me, personally. If it's because of something I personally did or said to you - I genuinely apologize. Hurting and insulting people is certainly not on my agenda although regrettably sometimes all of us unknowingly do exactly that. If you're humble and willing to accept my personal apology - fantastic. If not, then I tried my best to make amends here.
Your music is unknown to me, except for a clip in La Epoca (in the copy of the DVD I have, anyway) in which you play piano. Very well as I recall - if only you were even 1% as diligent in your approach to film making.
Thanks for the apology. Personally the fact that I bought a DVD expecting one thing and was severely disappointed is neither here nor there to me - caveat emptor and all that. But I do believe you did a massive injustice to the people who were supposed to be the subject of the film i.e. the original mambo era dancers, most of whom don't get to say anything of any value and some of whom are portrayed very negatively. I believe it is to them you owe an apology. (Some of whom are no longer with us of course, so that will be problematic.)
Yuca, thanks for the detailed response!! Now, I better understand why you harbor such opinions against me and my work. Mostly, I appreciate your diplomatic approach in this last particular message. I think that through dialog, kindness, and examples, things have hope for improvement.
I'm grateful that you bought a DVD. It sounds like you've seen only one of my six films and heard only some of my music from all the music composed and produced these years. Of course, much of that music features some of the very gifted and talented musicians and dancers who you feel I disappointed. Yuca, if they felt the same the same as you - do you think they would have endorsed my films or recorded for any of my compositions or danced in my films .. or that they would have remained close friends with my father, or that Puente or Celia Cruz or Cachao or Cuban Pete EVER have referred their friends to me?
I gave them a platform upon which they were free to share what they wanted. There was no script for them to read; I wanted them to speak only what was in their hearts. What's wrong with them speaking from the heart? Now, if you're disappointed that maybe they didn't say what you wanted or expected or hoped that they'd say - well - that's something different. If you're disappointed that I included in the film something you felt I should not have - or that I did not include in the film something you felt I should have - this is also something different.
But, I cannot be upset with them for sharing what they wanted. I asked questions to each musician and dancer interviewed in the film - and throughout the interviews - I made sure to give each of them free time to share anything they wanted on any theme that was not included in my line of questioning. So, is it possible that you're disappointment is misplaced? If not, then I'm happy to apologize and fill in the blanks. They are/were beautiful, gifted persons with beautiful hearts who devoted much time to sit with me - many in the last months of their lives. They made the choice to sit with me, to answer the questions they felt they had something to contribute to.. and they also chose to say what they wanted about any subject not included in my line of questioning.
So, Yuca, do I understand you correctly that you saw only one of my six films? And is it correct that your opinion from that one film produced eight years ago means that all of my other five films which you may not have seen automatically disappoint you??
I respect that you have your opinion. I'm genuinely apologetic to you and to anyone else who felt disappointed or even offended (for example, one of the main reasons why I re-edited the first film was because of what Barbara Craddock and Mike Ramos said - they were bashing On1 dancers - which was very unkind and arrogant. I made sure to not include that in the re-edit. There were some other opinions too which rubbed people the wrong way which inspired me to take them out for the re-edits. I knew that including that in the film that people would think that those opinions were MINE even with the disclosures that they are/were not mine. It was highly offensive and I did not and do not agree with those comments they made.).