Ramón Antonio Ropaín Elías was born in Río Frío in 1920, and was raised in Ciénaga, Magdalena, Colombia. He studied both piano and pharmacology, traveling to the United States for a time, before returning to Colombia in the 1950’s and settling in Barranquilla, where he became the piano player in the orchestra of Lucho Bermúdez. He composed, amongst other pieces, the classics, Cumbia Bonita, La Danza de la Chiva, and Cumbia Gitana, and led his own conjunto and orchestra for many years. He passed away in 1986.
Composed by Lucho Bermúdez, Ropaín’s rendition of Cumbia las Fichitas (also known as Gaiteando), is a beautifully understated piano driven cumbia. The simplicity and class of
Ropaín’s playing bring to mind the recordings of Peruchín or Noro Morales in the Afro Cuban model, stripped of all accompaniment, save the rhythm section and the piano. The lack of brass, woodwinds, or accordion make for a particularly intoxicating and trance inducing cumbia, as Ropaín’s gentle touch on the keys glides effortlessly through the interplay of the maracas, güiro and tambora. Its energy is substantially enhanced by multiple false endings, which increasingly raise the intensity level. This is a Mexican pressing on Son-Art, licensed from the Colombian label, Discos Tropical. Great for the sala or the salon!
– Marcos Juarez