Alex Acuña and Wavedrum: Global Percussion
Back in his native Peru, Alex Acuña started his musical career at the age of 10. Coming to America via Puerto Rico, Alex arrived in Las Vegas in the mid 1970s, supporting artists such as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross. Alex rose to prominence in 1975, when he joined the jazz-fusion group Weather Report, appearing on the albums Black Market and Heavy Weather. Settling in California, Alex Acuña became a top-call session player. His album credits would fill volumes. Jazz artists from Ella Fitzgerald and Al Jarreau to Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul have sought Alex out. On the rock side, Alex has worked with everyone from Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, and U2 to Willy Deville and Blondie. And the list goes on across every style of music. Add in Placido Domingo, Joni Mitchell, and Beck, and one realizes what a versatile and in-demand player Alex really is. These days Alex keeps a full schedule in between touring and sessions. KORG was lucky enough to catch up with Alex and hear what he’s been up to and why he loves the new Wavedrum
KORG: Can you tell us when you knew that playing music would be your calling?
Alex Acuña: When I was seven years of age. This is the only thing I have ever done, and will continue to do for the rest of my life. I started to play when I was 4 years old and then started to play professionally at 10 years of age with my brothers and my father’s orchestra, but to me music and drumming is a gift of GOD.
KORG: As a drummer who would you cite as your influences?
AA: Many musicians have influenced me, but to name the few who really inspired me were Elvin Jones and Tony Williams; Tito Puente was the Vibe and Timbales player; and Tata Güines was the Conga player. May they all Rest in Peace.
KORG: Do you prefer live performance or studio work? Do you have a favorite genre of music?
AA: In general I prefer to play music – period! I like classical, rock, Latin, R & B, country, Latin-jazz, all kinds of ethnic/world music, but my passion is to play all the different styles and genres of music with a good feel. Every situation – recording or live playing – will enlarge my experiences, my understanding, and my taste in this beautiful awesome art: MUSIC! (One powerful word!)
KORG: Can you tell us about your most recent DVD; The Rhythm Collector?
AA: This DVD is the beginning of something that I wanted to do long time ago, for the same reasons I have explained about my preferences in Music. During my travels around the world, I have experienced the beauty of different musical cultures.
KORG: Such as?
AA: When I went to Brazil, I just loved to see and play their music with so much happiness, dancing, bouncing and laughing. The same happened when I went to Puerto Rico. Being from Peru, and understanding the South American music so well, gave me the opportunity to also understand the great feels of the their melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. Most of all, I understood the descendence – where all this music comes from – Africa, India, Spain, etc. This will include the mix of the Gipsys and the Mestizos. So there you go! That is the reason why I also would like to contribute a bit, by displaying some of my musical journey on this DVD. There will be a 2nd DVD very soon, because I'm still collecting rhythms and instruments from all over the world.
KORG: Alex, you were one of the first artists to get your hands on the new KORG Wavedrum; can you let us know a few of your favorite sounds?
AA: Before I answer this question, I would like the readers to know that I also was one of the first to play the very first KORG Wavedrum that came out in the 1990s! I like all of the sounds of the new Korg Wavedrum, because of all the different styles; especially now that every sound is well accepted in the music industry. But the tabla sounds definitely stand out for me.
KORG: And if you had to sum it all up?
AA: The Korg Wavedrum makes it easy to express your musical Journey.
Alex, thank you so much for your time – and for all the great music.