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Manolo Badrena

Manolo Badrena

The first time percussionist Manolo Badrena ever set foot into a recording studio he played on one of the top-selling jazz albums of all time. He had just auditioned for the fusion group Weather Report when keyboardist Joe Zawinul asked him to come the studio to work on their next LP. The album they were about to record, Heavy Weather, would soon become both an artistic and commercial success. It would sell so many copies that it would propel the group into rock-sized arenas and change the sound of jazz.

Listen closely to the tune “Birdland,” and check out the rapid-fire tambourine work that pushes the song for its full six minutes. Badrena did that in one take-not because he had to; he didn’t know any better. “That was my very first time in a recording studio,” he laughs. “I didn’t know you could stop!” He says he was too young and naive to be scared, but then reality slowly settled in. “After I was in the studio with these jazz giants for a little while, I started to worry. But I told myself not to get overwhelmed and just do what I always do-just groove.”

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