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Thank you for choosing me as a concert artist and/or presenter for a workshop in your parish or diocese. I am looking forward to giving you a wonderful experience which will also be thought provoking and challenging for the members of your music ministry and your parish in general.
There are certain things I have learned along the way after years of traveling and I've decided to put them down on paper in order to help you work better with me and also give you some options that you may not know about.
I assume that you are familiar with my music but, in case you are not, it's very upbeat with a contemporary edge which mixes pop, rock and roll and traditional and contemporary latin styles such as cha-cha-cha, son montuno, danzón, samba, mariachi and some other southamerican dances.
My music usually requires a contemporary ensemble with additional latin percussion. Here is the essential line up:
o Pianist. Someone with contemporary ability would be best but also all scores are written down so a good reader is also fine. This also implies that the ideal situation would be to have a piano. Yet, with today's technology there are some wonderful keyboards that have great piano sounds and these would also be acceptable.
o Bass player. Someone who plays electric bass who can read what is known as "charts" would be best. However a player who reads bass parts is also acceptable.
o Percussionist. This is someone who can play a set of Congas. Usually in a concert situation it's ideal to have a Conga player and an additional percussionist playing shakers and other percussion instruments.
o Drummer. Someone who can play contemporary rock and jazz would be ideal; If this person has some experience in latin music that's an added bonus
There are other musicians that can add wonderful sounds to the music that I play. I will place these in order of importance:
o Flute. Many of my songs have written flute parts and they certainly add to that contemporary/multicultural flavor that my music has. Two flute players are also acceptable since some of my songs have two flutes.
o Violin. Some of my songs can have violin parts added. This is a nice touch in some of the more prayerful songs.
o Acoustic Guitar. Although I am the primary guitarist in the concert I welcome a couple of guitarists who would like to add to the mix. I don't encourage these players to play electric guitar.
o Trumpet. I have a couple of songs which have trumpet parts. Although I welcome trumpets in the concert, it must be clear that it will only be for a couple of songs, not for the entire show.
o Keyboards. In some churches there are keyboard players who add synthesizer sounds to the mix. Like the trumpet, this would be welcome but it should not happen for every song.
I have done concerts with an ensemble and just my voice and I have done shows with a choir of 75 members. I encourage you to make all your singers from all your groups participate in the concert to give them a musical experience of a different sort. Usually blending voices from different choirs of the parish or the diocese begins a new relationship with different music ministers. This can be the beginning of more collaboration between singers of different groups.
Choir singers will usually have to learn all refrains of the songs and on some occasions a verse here and there. It should be noted that the music text will be in English and in Spanish.
In all of my concerts there is room for a few (3 or 4) soloists to sing a particular verse in a song. I encourage you choose people who are leaders of song in your community so they can have the experience of singing in a concert situation.
I am perfectly comfortable singing all verses in the songs so choose soloists only when there is a desire to participate at this level.
WAYS TO DO THE CONCERT
The ideal situation is to give your music ministers a musical experience that will challenge them and make them sing and play music that would require a higher standard of performance. When this is prepared well ahead of time it becomes a very positive experience for all those involved.
So in essence, the best situation would be to have all your music ministers and me playing the concert.
However I know that sometimes some of these musicians are not available in your parish or your diocese.
The options I present are:
1) Get all the musicians from your parish or diocese and then hire out the ones you are missing. This is a bit of a gamble because you have to trust that the person hired will be able to deliver the music in a professional way; My experience is that it's best to find a musician in your church who has connections with other musicians to get recommendations.
Sometimes it works well to go to your local colleges to ask the professors in the music schools.
2) Let me bring one of the members of my band to play for your concert. I have a terrific band in Arizona who knows my music very well. If you wish, we can hire that person to come and play the missing instrument at your parish/diocese.
We would need to have flight, room/board for one night and in some instances rental of some equipment in order to do this. This musician is assured to deliver well the musical part. I also ask that each player get a $150.00 check per show.
3) Hire my entire band to come play the show.
My band will come and do the music in a very professional way. We are a 6 piece band and have played together for many years. We can all come and perform the music and you can provide the choirs to sing. Again, we would need flights, room/board for one night and in some instances rental of some equipment to play. I also ask that each of my players get a check for $150.00 per show.
4) I can play the concert with a partial band. This is not my ideal situation but in some cases this is the only thing possible. I will be willing to play the concert with a partial band but the music may suffer from lacking the adequate instrumentation.
5) I can play the concert by myself. In very few occasions I have played a concert in more of an "unplugged" feel; My music does not lend itself very well to this situation; I will gladly play by myself but the music will be very different and not show the full potential of what it could be.
When you are playing a concert with many instrumentalists, it's best to have some sort of sound system that will amplify the instruments and voices.
In most churches it is very common to have a sound system that can accommodate having several singers and instrumentalists. However, on some occasions I have played in places that only have a couple of microphones inputs (plugs) on the floor of the church. This would make it very difficult for a sound system to be used.
The minimum requirement for an ideal situation would be to have a sound board
with several separate channels to place the microphones for amplification.
Just to give you an example, I use a Mackie 1604 VLZ Pro 16 channel mixing board in my parish to mix all the instruments and the singers who come and participate on Sunday.
If more information is needed about this section we should probably talk on the phone.
In every concert there is an opportunity to sell Jaime Cortez merchandise.
These are mainly CD's and music books.
You have the option of taking care of this yourself through the publishing company or you can pass the responsibility to me. Please let me know in advance which would be your choice.
If the responsibility of the CD sales is mine, I will ask you to have someone from your parish help me in the initial moment after the concert when I cannot get to the sales table.