Latin transcribed from professional international bands is tough. I'm spending quite a bit of time practising figures and montunos. Montunos are fairly specified as to 2 - 3 or 3 - 2. In many of the charts there are no indication of 3 - 2 or 2 - 3. I'm trying to learn them from the mp3s. All I have to say is that the latin music I'm playing is definitely worth spending the time. When I've been practising to the tracks, I'm finding it really intense but the more I do it the clearer it becomes of course and it's starting to get that wonderful broad sweep with rhythm units falling in place.
We have an upcoming rehearsal after the first where I played new charts with just three percussion players with no bass. I was quite unprepared and figured I could manage if the bass player was there laying down the Timbao; but no... I was on my own and playing on the tinker toy of electric pianos—I'm taking my own keyboard tonight. It should go better. I feel really connected to a few of their tunes.
The piano's role is really central what with montunos getting quite creative and beautiful on the tracks that I've heard. I'm doing more practise today. The big thing is to be able to synchronize with the complexity and magic of that groove. It's very specific and presents a narrow door into the paradise awaiting once the feel is truly achieved. One of the most common features is the '2' feel in most of the songs. You're either playing on the beat—quite often just one on-beat note in a 2 bar pattern, or, you're anticipating the down beat in 2. Either anticipating beat 1 or beat 2 (n the 2 feel) or, there is an 8th just after the beat. As long as it's felt in 2 it will be easier to play it just right. Most of the time it's pushed 8ths in montunos all the way. Sometimes 2 pushed 8ths and commonly variations on supper-imposed dotted quarters.
The thing I find so encouraging is the overlap that the salza feel, timbao, and montunos bring to other songs an pieces I've been playing. It's quite a revelation.