Alex Acuna - The Rhythm Collector

Alex Acuña has legendary status as one of the most respected percussionists and drummers in music is brought to life in this highly anticipated performance DVD. The story as told by Alex himself, details the rise of an impoverished aspiring musician in a small South American village to a first-call studio master and concert showman with some of the most notable names in the industry. Join Alex on a journey that is sure to inspire you with performances featuring Latin Alt-Rockers Kinky, his very own Jazz project with Patrice Rushen, Abe Laboriel Sr. and Justo Almario, a demonstration of some of his most cherished Latin rhythms and so much more. All beautifully shot in high-definition with 5.1 surround sound, The Rhythm Collector is a must-have DVD for any passionate drummer or percussionist.

Born in Pativilca, Peru, lOO miles north of Lima, Alex Acuña was born into a musical family that inspired him and helped shape him as a musician. His father and five brothers were all musicians.  Alex taught himself how to play the drums from the age of four. By the time Alex turned ten, he was already playing in local bands. As a teenager, he moved to Lima and became one of Peru's most accomplished session drummers, performing on many recording projects for artists, as well as film and television productlons.

In Lima, Alex also earned a glowing reputation for his live performances. So much so that at the age of eighteen, Alex was chosen by the great Latin band leader, Perez Prado, to join his big band. It was with the Prado band that Alex first traveled to the United States. In 1967, Alex moved to Puerto Rico to work as a studio musician and play locally. During this period, he also studied for three years at the, Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, playing as a classical percussionist with the Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the famed Spanish cellist master Pablo Casals.

Alex moved to Las Vegas in 1974, where he played with such greats as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross. Between 1975 and 1977, he made part of jazz history when he became both drummer and percussionist for one of the most innovative and pioneering jazz groups of our time, Weather Report. He first performed as  percussionist (October 1975 to April 1976), and later as drummer (April 1976' to October 1977). He recorded two albums with the group: "Black Market" (1976) and the highly succesful "Heavy Weather" (1977), which included the famous tracks "Birdland" and "Havona." "Heavy Weather" became the first jazz-fusion album to sell a million copies.


This January 2007 release by DW DVD has a quasi documentary feel to it because of the narration, interviews and photos, giving us the musical history and heritage of Alex Acuña.  The runtime is 67 minutes, but there is some additional bonus footage that brings the total content to 90 minutes.

The Rhythm Collector starts out with a segment called "Around The World" (see footage above) where Alex plays a ten minute solo, moving from instrument to instrument. This is a great way to hear and see Alex play Congas, Cajon, Bongos, Djembe, Timbales and Drumset all within the same piece. Lots of energy, passion and interesting rhythms ... as one might (should) expect from Acuña.

From this point in the DVD to the very end, the viewer is taken on a musical journey via Alex's own life experiences. The chapters are organized chronologically as follows:

  • The Gift Is Born
  • Peru & The Cajon
  • United States
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Weather Report
  • Jazz Drum Solo
  • Canela
  • Brazilian Rhythms
  • Kinky
  • My Gift

A small booklet is enclosed which notates a few of Alex's rhythms which he shares on the DVD, some of which comes from the bonus video footage. Cajon rhythms include folkloric patterns by Caitro Soto and Ronaldo Campos, as well as Alex's own hybrid of the two, plus a Creole rhythm, intricate Cuban rhythm and a Pop Cajon rhythm. Peru Festejo with Alex playing all the percussion parts which is shown in split screen from the tracking session. There's also a drumset demo of the Festejo rhythm, although it is not notated. Condombe from Uruguay, Plena and Bomba from Puerto Rico, Merengue from Dominican Republic (also demonstrated on the drumset), and Brazilian Capoeira and Samba Raggae from Brazil.

HD 5.1 Surround DVD

I really like how this DVD was put together. It feels fresh and has a unique approach by crossing the documentary with the stereotypical instructional video. I do want to mention that I thought the audio mix could have been better. The voice overs and music bumpers were fine, but all of the performance levels were considerably lower in volume. This was noticeable on my HD plasma TV, with and without the stereo (surround) on, and even worse when using my laptop. I realize that nowadays the audio tracks on CDs and DVDs are mixed and/or mastered hot, too hot in my opinion ... but that's not what I'm talking about. This may not bother some, but to me it felt like a 20% difference in volume when Alex was performing versus speaking, which was louder. One other minor thing I noticed was that some of the shots appeared to be lower in quality, although 99% of the footage appears to be in HD. None of this would stop me from purchasing the DVD, but hopefully DW will take note of my comments and raise the bar on future releases.

I was fortunate enough to actually play with Alex back in 2004, one of the highlights of my musical career. From that experience alone I can tell you that this disc really captures who Alex is; his heart and passion for music, drums/percussion, rhythms ... and for people.

Alex Acuña truly is The Rhythm Collector... and I highly recommend this DVD.