As shared on the BC Musician Magazine website.
Vancouver horn man Malcolm Aiken got his big ears from his family. Both his mother and father were avid music fans when he was a kid and their deep interest in international styles opened his mind at a very young age. Then as he began to study music it was the mentorship of renowned Vancouver music instructor and percussionist Sal Ferreras who Aiken explains “opened a lot of doors for me as far as playing world music and studying it in a more academic way.”
Inspired, Aiken went on to eventually complete a masters degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of British Columbia, which he admits was “a great experience to really study world music in depth and do some real deep research. I think it fueled me and inspired me to do what I now do today.”
I catch up with the handsome young musician by phone just before he takes to the stage at Vancouver’s Guilt & Company with his world fusion group Tanga. “A lot of work I do is with the record label TrebleFive,” a company Aiken started in 2010 with his “musicophile” brother Claran. “We travel a lot and go and do site recordings and work with different artists, primarily in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.”
The Aiken brothers dedication to deep field work produced some fine results in 2011 when a core group, comprised of representatives from TrebleFive and Tanga, decided to set their sights on Havana to record sessions with a multitude of Cuban talent. Aiken and his crew combed the streets and clubs of Havana every night seeking out musicians and singers, then would wake up every morning to conduct recording sessions with their new recruits. Aiken confesses, “this was one of the most craziest endeavours I have ever been on, and in the end, one of the most rewarding.”
The sessions were first recorded rough in a makeshift pop up studio hotel room studio and then percussion was added in the second phase at the studios of Septeto Nacional Studios de Ignacio Pineiro in Central Havana. Following the Havana sessions the crew took the recordings back to Vancouver where they worked with the rest of the Tanga crew and a number of guests, including C. R. Avery, Silvana Kane, Kyprios and Jimmy Bosch, who added their contributions to a treasure trove of recordings they had in the can. The result would be Tanga’s sophomore 2013 release, Havana Electro, a record with one foot firmly planted in traditional Cuban rhythms, while incorporating, funk, hip hop, dancehall and global fusions.
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