Vanderlei and Billy
In New York I put together the early formations to try out repertoire I was returning with and to figure out how I was going to play it, what the drums should do, etc.
Vanderlei Pereira helped me out a lot with private lessons in percussion and Brazilian music concepts. He made me work in the lesson with little bits of information and his workouts and monologues often took his mind way off the clock! "Keep playing it...yeah, this little part is too slow, speed up - slow down a little - there that's where it is, that's where it locks." Vanderlei taught me about teaching with his improvised methods created for me, derived from his unceasing efforts to pass on musical information. A student can be guided do whatever in the moment! Capoeira classes with the great Edna Lima was about working out in the moment too! Capoeira was another connection to Brazil in NY along with my musical pursuits.
My 2-year partnership with Arthur Eliachar (guitarist and singer) led to much growth and many playing situations. We did all manner of shows playing in a number of museums
(City of NY, Brooklyn Museum, Museo Del Barrio), for Huntington's disease patients, weddings, at S.O.B.s, for benefits, at park festivals, etc. We regularly rehearsed and jammed. Most memorable is a regular gig at the Internet Cafe in the East Village where all sorts of material was performed.
Ana Fonteles came to town in the late 90s and we dug into a lot of music and had a lot of good times. She was an experienced singer from Piaui, and gave us all great direction in Northeast music and soul.
My studies with Dennis Koster started in 1995, at the same time I started to have regular musical work.
I built a Brazilian solo guitar repertoire while learning classical technique. The repertoire I was playing with singers Ana Fonteles, Artu, and Tete Maciel became some of the material I used for solo, tunes such as "Ponteio," "Deixa," "Vera Cruz" and "Bebe."
It is wonderful to be able to express the main voice and chord, try to bring the full pulse of this music through the guitar. A regular gig in the lobby of Joe Papp's Public Theatre gave me more incentive to make my arrangements clearer and to memorize everything I could.
Dennis has so much technique and a powerful lust for developing solo music. It is great being around him, hearing and seeing him play and talk about music. He has helped me develop immensely as a guitar teacher as well, with his general obsessiveness about every aspect of guitar playing. I think a book could be written about Sabicas, from Dennis' running description and commentary about his experiences with this flamenco master. "Dennis, hold the neck softly, caress it, be very gentle with the guitar when playing - why do you need to press so hard?" It was at the beginning of studying with Dennis that I began to teach at the American Institute of Guitar and to have private students on a regular basis.