photo: Pauline Péncaud
Have you witnessed it, felt it—the excitement that builds when a musician performs with such enthusiasm and grace you’d swear they emerged from the womb embracing their instrument? Do you remember when you were happy just playing? Long before you fretted about technique? Allow Natascha Rogers to jog your memory.
A few years back, Ralph Angelillo knew she was special and introduced Natascha, who hails from Paris, to the North American drum community by way of the Montreal Drum Fest. Natascha infected the crowd with her love of, and respect for, the age-old African rumba, which traveled to Cuba with slaves crowded into wooden ships and who communicated by striking the ancient clavé on wooden sticks.
No amount of formal technical and theoretical studies, in a Bordeaux conservatory or in Cuba, has diminished Natascha Rogers’ capacity to go out there and interact with any audience on any stage—a manifestation of the ancient rumba call-and-answer. She attributes her skills to mentors Jean-Marc Pierna (France) and Olivier Congar (Cuba). We suspect her feel for the clavé may come from somewhere closer to the bone. Her joyous style endeared her to Melissa Lavergne, whom she met on a live TV soundstage. As you will see, both women collaborate with a freedom that derives from subservience to ancient percussive traditions.