Jonathan Mande and Jorge Perez-Albela met 17 years ago in an after-school drumming program at a Brookline elementary school. For nearly two decades, the two percussionists have spent hours bonding over rhythms and cadences, but also growing closer as friends and colleagues.
We highlighted their relationship in the Kind World episode, "The Rhythm Within." This conversation features additional highlights from the interview conducted with Mande and Perez-Albela at the WBUR studios.
Jonathan Mande: "One thing — of many — that I've learned from Jorge over the years is that where you play music from is really what matters. The question he always asked me that I then asked my students was, 'Where is music?' And the idea is that music is found inside of you. Music is in you and everywhere. So essentially what it comes down to is when we get in tune and in touch with our internal rhythm, our internal sense of music, then we can better understand the music of the world around us."
Jorge Perez-Albela: "I think we, in our society, Western society, we tend to value music, sometimes, from a perspective that maybe is not the most accurate. You know like you give more value a person who has a paper, a degree, a Master, a PhD. And yes of course it's good to study formally. But music ... It's natural. So actually the great musicians that we admire and follow and buy the records and CDs and streams, they didn't go to school, and I'm not against the school. Don't get me wrong. But I want to emphasize the importance of acknowledging the hard work and the craft of a folkloric musician. A musician who plays from what he has heard when he was little, and he just has this music, he or she has this music and needs to express it. Jonathan has it, and that's what matters."
Jonathan Mande: "He helped me see that I was more than I allowed myself to be. There were very few people growing up that that really had an impact in my life and and going to Jorge's class was always a place where I knew I could decompress, I could just be myself."
Jorge Perez-Albela: "I think, for a while, I was seeking something in music. I was admiring drummers like Roy Haynes, like Elvin Jones. And going to school and studying, there were still many questions. with Jonathan, it was like having that quality. I feel, since I met him, that he has some of that Elvin energy. I always mention it. So for me it was to have that experience, you know, to be with someone that authentic — basically to see the real deal and to find also myself in that process, because I started drums later. I started when I was 16. So for me, it took a long, long process of this self-discovery and soul-searching to find the Holy Grail of what is really important to pay attention in the drumming and in the music. And it was such a gift."