The Rummage

Tag: South America

. issue XXIV : iii .

. artist : vinicius cantuaria & bill frisell .
. album : lagrimas mexicanas .
. year : 2011 .
. label : eone music .
. grade : b minus .

Lagrimas

Vinicius Cantuaria is a New York City-based Brazilian singer-songwriter-guitarist-percussionist whose unique music straddles the worlds of MPB (Brazilian popular music), jazz and the downtown New York scene. Here he’s in a collaborative duo with Bill Frisell, one of the great jazz musicians of the current era and a man with an equally wide range of interests – the two previously worked together in Frisell’s excellent band The Intercontinentals. Neither musician occupies new ground here – rather they meet at the midpoint of their interests on some tuneful material that emphasizes Cantuaria’s expressive singing and Frisell’s beautiful guitar melodies and loops. Not a breakthrough recording on the order of Frisell’s Have A Little Faith or Nashville, but a high-quality outing that’s pleasing on the surface and reveals additional depth on further listening, like the best Brazilian pop music.

by Bill Lupoletti

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. issue XIX : vi .

. artist : roberto lopez afro-colombian jazz orchestra .
. album : azul .
. year : 2012 .
. label : curura musique .
. grade : a .

Roberto Lopez

Crate-diggers like Will (Quantic) Holland (The Original Sound Of Cumbia) have introduced today’s listeners to porro, the glorious Colombian big-band cumbia sound of the 1940’s and beyond. Here’s a band that’s both inspired by that era and yet utterly contemporary. Colombian native Roberto Lopez leads this Montreal-based octet from the guitarists’ chair. They take on three compositions by the most famous porro bandleader, Lucho Bermudez (“Fiesta de Negritos” is my favorite of the three) along with two other covers and five Lopez originals. Each track here is a delight – the band locks into and swings the Colombian rhythms (try “En mi Corazón” and “San Pelayo,” Lopez’ porro and champeta originals), the arrangements are unique and really showcase the whole ensemble (“El Pescador” is a midtempo modern-jazz take on cumbia, “Tres Clarinetes” gives fandango an almost Dixieland/second-line feel), and the soloing is pithy and melodic throughout. This combo hearkens back to an era when jazz bands (in Colombia, America or wherever) played for dancers and listeners at the same time. You can file this one under jazz or world music, but just don’t miss it – it’s one of the best things I’ve heard all year.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XIX : ii .

. artist : systema solar .
. album : la revancha del burro .
. year : 2013 .
. label : systema solar .
. grade : a .

Systema

Systema Solar is a multimedia (film, performance and costume along with music) septet that gives Colombian roots music a neo-psychedelic injection and a hip-hop/electronica pants-kick. This is their second album, and it’s quite remarkable: they fully integrate a wide variety of vintage Colombian styles like gaita, champeta, the deep Afro-Colombian sounds of San Basilio De Palenque, and even salsa with the 21st century’s international dance-floor language. These aren’t remixes or mashups; they’re unique and original performances that straddle the two worlds in ingenious and compelling ways. For example, “Yo Voy Ganao” grafts the traditional cane-flute onto a boom-bap rhythm, resulting in a dance-floor filler of the first order. Salsa, Colombia’s most popular musical export today, gets the Systema treatment on “La Esquina del Movimiento.” “Tukupakata” is an exhilarating Afro-Colombian call-and-response vocal that sounds natural nestled next to rapping and turntablism. And my favorite track is “El Boton del Pantalon,” based on champeta and its electronica cousin terapia, deeply syncretic styles to begin with, here receiving a host of 2013 flourishes. This is one of the most fiercely original bands in the world right now.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVIII : vii .

. artist : aberlardo carbono .
. album : el maravilloso mundo de abelardo carbono .
. year : 2013 .
. label : vampisoul .
. grade : a plus .

Carbono

There’s a massive re-examination of Colombian music now underway, spurred by the work of crate-diggers who are unearthing a trove of fabulous recordings to which the rest of the world had, until recently, paid scant attention. Add Abelardo Carbono to that list. He’s a former policeman from Barranquilla who in the 1980’s helped develop the genre we now call champeta – Afro-Colombian rhythms fused with sounds from the crates of records that entered Colombia’s largest Caribbean port and became hits with the country’s picos (mobile sound systems): Nigerian Afrobeat, Congolese soukous, Cuban mambo, Ivoirean ziglibithi, Haitian compas, American funk and psych-rock, … pretty much anything groovy under the sun. Carbono is a syncretic master: check out “Muevela,” “La Negra Kulengue” and “Carolina” to hear his stew with all ingredients included. His Latinized takes on Afrobeat are brilliant: try “Quiero a mi Gente” and “Schallcarri.” Add electronic beats and champeta becomes terapia: “Baile del Indio” and “Ejen en Acordeon” are excellent examples. Another great find from the bottomless well of Colombian music.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVIII : iv .

. artist : various artists .
. album : peru maravilloso: vintage latin, tropical and cumbia .
. year : 2013 .
. label : tiger’s milk .
. grade : b plus .

Peru

There’s more to Peruvian music than chicha – that’s one of the messages of this fine debut compilation from Tiger’s Milk Records, an outgrowth of London Peruvian restaurant Ceviche. This is a well-researched look at the Latin and tropical sounds of 60’s and 70’s Peru, with none of the tracks re-released since their original local pressings. A good example of their deep digging is the first track, “Mambo de Machaguay,” which sounds like a standard swank 60’s big band mambo but also incorporates a traditional Andean rhythm. “Salsa 73” is a descarga (jam session), a popular style among Peruvian Latin combos of the era; “Piraña” is a Cuban son montuno crossed with the ever-popular cumbia rhythm. And they didn’t leave chicha out of the mix entirely: “La Cumbia Del Pacurro” is a beauty by Juaneco Y Su Combo that somehow hadn’t yet been reissued, “Me Siento Felíz” is the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” as a psychedelic cumbia instrumental, and “Los Fabulosos en Onda” is a new one on me, some sort of chicha power ballad (an instrumental once again) with a Santana-like guitar lead. Nice job, gentlemen.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVII : iv .

. artist : various artists .
. album : diablos del ritmo: the colombian melting pot 1960-1985 .
. label : analog africa .
. year : 2012 .
. grade : a plus .

Diablos

Analog Africa’s Samy Ben Redjeb has been collecting historic Colombian recordings for six years now. This is his second Colombian release, and it’s a great addition to the growing catalog of reissues from that musically diverse and vibrant country. Disc 2 here focuses on cumbia and other tropical and folkloric styles. Most of the disc functions like a third volume follow-up to Will Holland and Soundway’s definitive The Original Sound Of Cumbia, and there are some new directions as well — carnival music from Barranquilla (“El Garabato”), porro orchestra with psychedelic organ (“La Nena”), and the influence of NYC salsa (“Lluvia” and “Santana En Salsa”, for example). Disc 1 follows the trail blazed by Lucas Silva’s Champeta Criolla and Palenque Palenque collections, digging into the incredibly fertile soil of Afro-influenced Colombian music. Along with champeta (tracks “Shallcarri,” “Lumbalu” and “Calambre”), we get Afro-soul (“Enyere Kumbara”), Afro-cumbia (“Cumbia San Pablera”), and killer covers of French Caribbean (“El Caterete”) and Fela Kuti (“Shakalaodé”) material. The booklet is the icing on the cake — 60 pages of photos, interviews, authoritative essays and Samy’s personal narrative. Fabulous!

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVI : iv .

. artist : los jharis de nana .
. album : los creadores del sonido de la carretera .

LosJharis

. and .

. artist : sensacion shipibo .
. album : 7” .

sensacion

. year : 2012 .
. label : masstropicas .
. grade : b plus .

The ultra-indie, vinyl-only Masstropicas label is back from Peru with another find. Los Jharis De Nana, led by guitarist Teo Laura, started playing in the mid-1970’s; they have a twangy, swirly sound (lots of echo, fuzzbox, flanger, etc.) that is the essence of what is now known worldwide as chicha or psychedelic cumbia. This recording was originally released (on cassette, naturally) in the mid-80’s; apparently the band is still active today. A ride-along with the Los Jharis LP is a new single from a band called Sensacion Shipibo. They’re from the Peruvian selva (rain forest) region, and Masstropicas recorded them on site in Yarinacocha. They call their style cumbia-masha and sing in both Spanish and the local Shipibo language (which sounds oddly to my ear like Japanese, especially on “Reshin Noma” — maybe it’s a tonal or pitch-accented language?). Although the band’s creative process involves the use of ayahuasca (a naturally-occurring psychotropic drug), their sound, flavored with accordion and syndrums, is decidedly less psychedelic sounding to American ears than bands like Los Jharis. This two-for-one release set is another quality addition to the chicha catalogue from a very intrepid record label.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVI : iii .

. artist : teo laura .
. album : el sonido de la carretera central .
. year : 2013 .
. label : masstropicas .
. grade : a minus .

TeoLaura

Masstropicas’ excavation of Peruvian chicha continues apace with this fine compilation of bands that all featured the guitarist Teo Laura Amao, who’s still active today. Laura is one of the leading exponents of the style called Carretera Central (“Central Highway”). (The name refers to Peru’s major east-west highway PE-22, connecting Lima to the high Andes and the selva, the Amazonian rainforest, beyond it.) Laura is from Ñaña, about 20 kilometers from Peru along PE-22, and his twangy playing fits somewhere in between the deeply psychedelic cumbia Amazonica of groups like Juaneco Y Su Combo and the more worldly sound of Lima-based groups like Los Destellos. The highlights here are seven tracks by pioneering Carretera Central combo Los Sanders, in which Laura replaced founding guitarist Lener Muñoz. “El Sha La La,” “Reyna De Mi Corazon,” and “Caminando De La Mano” give you a good example of the breadth of the Los Sanders sound. “El Rey Loco” is a swinging instrumental by Los Blue Kings, another early Ñaña combo, and “El Borrachito Peruano” is something a little different – an accordion-driven song that starts out almost like Colombian vallenato. More great finds here from Masstropicas – keep ‘em coming, Mike.

by Bill Lupoletti