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Take Five With Agustin Barreto

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Agustin Barreto: Barreto, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico started playing electric bass at age 16 and soon discovered his gift and passion for music. After a few years of "gigging around town" with a local rock band, he landed several jobs playing on local TV shows. With the encouragement of his peers he then decided to study music formally and enrolled in La Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

In 1999 he became the Musical Director and bassists for the #1 late night talk show in Puerto Rico, Anda Pal Cara, and was touted as one of the premier bassists of Puerto Rico. This exposure landed him prestigious jobs with such artists as Jose Feliciano, Jerry Gonzalez, Dom Famularo, Willie Colon, Ralph Irizarry, Bobby Valentin, Danilo Perez and Giovanni Hidalgo. His high level of virtuosity and musicality led to endorsements by La Bella Strings, iGig cases and Gallien-Kreuger.


Electric bass.

Teachers and/or influences? My influences came from the music I grew up with called Nova Trova, Puerto Rican Folk Music. Then through my older brother I was introduced to American and British Pop and Rock music. But it was when I heard The Leprechauns by Chick Corea, that I decided that I wanted to play bass. I started studying Corea's music and was introduced to bass players Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci and Eddie Gomez. When I heard Jaco Pastorius playing "Donna Lee," I found my direction. There are also many other bass players and musicians that have inspired me like, Jose Gazmay, Ruben Rodriguez, Eddie Gua-Gua Rivera, Gary Willis, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Berlin and others. Lately I've been studying the work of Ray Brown and Richard Bona.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... at the age of 16 when I began taking bass lessons at a Music School in Puerto Rico. It all began when I was assigned to play the tuba and to be honest I did not like it. Since my interest in the instrument was little, I began to get myself in trouble. The pivotal moment was when my music teacher sent me to the principal's office after throwing an egg to one of my fellow students. The principal looked at my grades and shook her head but did notice that I excelled in music theory. She asked as to why am I doing poorly in the other subjects and I responded that I did not like the instrument assigned to me. She quickly asked what I wanted to play and I told her the bass guitar because I don't like high frequency instruments. Soon after, to everyone's surprise I quickly began to stand out in my "new" instrument and from there on it became my passion.

Your sound and approach to music: It depends on what song I am playing but I always try to play as relaxed as possible even if it is an aggressive song. Very smooth playing. The way I approach music is by analyzing and studying it, then whatever comes out of my heart.

Your teaching approach: My philosophy is the three P's ... practice, passion and play. My Teaching Technique's approach, I first start by warming up, my routine is to set my metronome from 100-120 BPM and I play selected patterns for approximately 20-30 minutes. Then I practice my sight-reading which honestly is the less entertaining part of it but there is no other choice, I must do it. After this I select a few songs and I study their styles, melodies and improvisations. And I always take some time to refresh my modes, and the scales. My playing technique is quite traditional, I use two fingers on my right hand and with my left hand I try to play all open positions. During practice, I always recommend people do it slowly because what you need to do is synchronize the two fingers of one hand with the four fingers of the other. Last but not least it is important to meet with other musicians to jam.

Your dream band: My dream band would be working with Chick Corea and Allan Holdsworth. What musician wouldn't want this???

Road story: Your best or worst experience: I arrived to one of my gigs and noticed I didn't have my bass straps, so I had to take my belt, carve some holes on it and use it as a strap.

Favorite venue: Centro de Bellas Artes in Puerto Rico, the sound was great and was treated very well.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I'm going to answer like every other artist: all of my songs are my favorites lol... but the one that I most enjoy playing is "Booooo." Although it's not the most challenging to play, it's great for jamming, and a lot of fun!!!

The first Jazz album I bought was: Inside Out, by Chick Corea.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? My music I hope! Also to let other Latin jazz musician's know that fulfilling a dream is quite possible.


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