Archive for the 'Latin Roots' Category



Descarga Cubana

The Cuban Jam Sessions were a series of records produced and released by the New York record label Panart in the late 50’s. The series started when bass player Israel Lopez (Cachao) would gather a group of musicians and began recording late night/early morning jam sessions in Havana Cuba in 1957. The culmination of their efforts would result in probably the most influential form of Latin American music and the creation of the descarga, a musical improvisation or literally a “letting loose”.

Most of the songs on these records are standards and not much is new in terms of musical form. The vocabulary of popular Cuban music, the mix of European and afro-cuban influence can be heard throughout these tracks. It was more or less the minimal, raw approach taken to the music – a move away from the more orchestrated/sugar-coated mambo sound of the time. Much like American jazz, which similarly began composing “music in the moment”. Theses records had some success when originally released, however it is said that their influence reached many other musicians and genres of Latin American music – from Latin Jazz, Salsa, to Cumbia, to most present day forms of tropical music. Please enjoy.

1. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Cogele el Golpe

2. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Descarga Cubana

3. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Sorpresa de Flauta

4. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Estudio En Trompeta

5. Julio Gutierrez: Theme On Mambo

6. Julio Gutierrez: Cimarron

7. Niño Rivera: Montuno Guajiro

8. Fajardo and His All-Stars: La Flauta de Jose

9. Fajardo and His All-Stars: La Charanga

Haitian Twoubadou with Trio Select

Jean Gesner Henry, dubbed Coupé Cloué during his early years of playing professional soccer in Port-au-Prince, was one of the most influential performers and composers of Haitian music in the latter half of the twentieth century. While the vast majority of his recordings were issued under the Coupé Cloué moniker, his earlier recordings as the singer and leader of Trio Select mark a crucial moment in the evolution of Hatian popular music. Trio Select was formed on September 6, 1957, according to the back of the album. The group featured Gesner Henry and Raphael Benito on vocals, Georges Celestin on lead guitar, Andres Serant on second guitar, Colbert Desir on percussion, and Prospect on bass. Gesner Henry was known for his humorous use of double entendres and colloquial slang, endearing him to his public and earning him the nickname, “La Coqueluche D’Haiti” or “The Whooping Cough of Haiti.” At least that’s what it says in the album notes, but I can’t help but think that something is lost in translation.

Of the Trio Select albums, Plein Caille released in 1971 on the burgeoning Brooklyn based Marc Records, is perhaps the most thoroughly satisfying and rewarding. Although the larger ensemble sound of the Konpa Direk of Nemours Jean Baptiste and the Cadence Rampa of Webert Sicot had opened the flood gates in the early 1960’s and on into the 70’s for a slew of Haitian bands performing in that style, Gesner Henry’s Trio Select is firmly rooted in the subdued Cuban Son and Bolero influenced Twoubadou style. The vocal harmonies are sublime giving the slower pieces a beautiful melancholy quality. The guitar work is stellar as well, with substantial soloing. I wish I was able to understand the lyrics.

- Marcos Juarez

Marcos has written a few posts for super-sonido in the past, but for the last year I’ve been bothering him to be a more active participant for this site – which he has gladly agreed to do and which I am totally greatful for. So for future visitiors of this audio blog, please be aware that this is as much as Marcos’ as it is mine. If you have any direct questions for Mr. Juarez you can add him on facebook or you can listen to his radio show every Thursday 3 to 6 p.m. on KALX radio. Amazing music from Haiti, I am completely floored. Please enjoy!!!

- Sonido Franko

1. Trio Select: Juge, Juge’m Bien

2. Trio Select: Plein Caille

3. Trio Select: Marteau

4. Trio Select: Qui Li Bois

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dos Sones de Arsenio Rodríguez

Known as the father of the modern Afro-Cuban sound, the blind musician and bandleader Arsenio Rodríguez would further develop and modernize the sound of Son, the predominate musical force in Cuba. Up until the 50’s, son centered around the tres (a triple set stringed guitar), bass and clave. By adding more melodic elements to his arrangements like a horn section, piano, and congas – Aresenio Rodríguez garnered instant fame in Cuba, earning him the nickname El Ciego Maravilloso (the marvellous blind man).

Born in Güira de Macurijes, as a young child, Rodríguez was blinded when a horse kicked him in the head. It is said that his musical roots come from the Congolese rituals of his family, instilled in him by his grandfather, who was apparently a slave. There probably hasn’t been a bigger influence in Cuban music than Arsenio Rodríguez. His sound can be heard in the rustic streets to the large Salsa brass arrangements to this day. Even listening to the first 5 seconds of Cambia El Paso (change that step), you instantly recognize the sound of son, something which has almost become a national symbol for Cuba.

On a side note, Andy Harlow does a really good version of Cambia El Paso and his brother Larry does a whole tribute album to Rodríguez. Also, I think it would be cool if someone knew what the word bochinche means. I think it’s Cuban slang for “gossip” – anyway peep the Cubans yelling at each other at 1:35 minutes into the song. The Tropical/Secco label was like the Putamayo world music label of it’s day. The actual album is probably from the 60’s, but this is a collection of Arsenio’s 78’s of the 50’s. Enjoy!

1. Arsenio Rodriguez: Cambia El Paso

2. Arsenio Rodriguez: Se Formo El Bochinche

Ayacucho in Japan

Opening Scene Japan meets Peru from SONIDO LENGUA on Vimeo.

Mauka Zapato from SONIDO LENGUA on Vimeo.

This is a video of my uncle Glenn Ore de la Fuente playing his guitar in Japan. He is playing the style of music I did a post on earlier called “Guitarra Ayacuchana”. The lyrics he sings in are a mixture of Quechua (indigenous language of Peru) and Spanish. The story goes that he married a Peruvian woman of Japanese decent and they moved to Japan. When my dad got this DVD from Glenn he thought it was a CD of his music, not realizing it was this amazing video of him playing musica Ayacuchana in Japan of all places. We haven’t heard anything about Glenn for a while and my dad has been trying to find out his whereabouts. I looked up this statue and it seems to be called Ushiku Daibustu, in Ibaraki Prefecture. From what I saw online it was one of the areas hit hard by the tsunami/earthquake. I hope there is an end in sight to the suffering they are experiencing right now and that Glenn and his family are safe. Big love to our Japanese Super Sonido readers!

-DJ LENGUA

Contrabando con Los Tigres Del Norte

I did a short post about Los Tigres Del Norte over two years ago, but since then, drug smuggling in Mexico has since slipped into epic proportions; therefore, I thought I’d do another.

I summed up Los Tigres pretty well in my last post – I wrote about how Norteño music and corridos formed the sound-tract to the social problems and successes of the Mexican people. But it was the number Contrabando y Traicion (contraband and betrayal) that had catapulted not only the band, but the whole Norteño genre to massive success in the early 70’s. A lot earlier than I had previously indicated.

The gritty tune Contrabando y Traicion is a song about a couple who smuggles drugs across the US/Mexican border. Lyrically, it is a cover of an older corrido, which is kind of like a country ballad which can have a parable of some sort at the ending. As the story goes, Emilio Varela and Camelia the Texan smuggle marijuana in their tires from Tijuana, Mexico to Hollywood, California. But as Emilio wants to leave the business and follow a more sobering life in San Francisco, he is murdered by his female partner.

Ballads about anti-heroes, drug dealers, immigrants, and the modern ills of society were nothing new at the time. The Mexican corrido is a musical tradition that lasted over 100 years. The only difference was the approach Los Tigres Del Norte had taken musically to the genre. The combination of instruments, the use of the accordion, the loud/heavy use of the electric bass, and the nasal singing style were the subtle differences that modernized the corrido sound into what is now called Norteño. These guys popularized this sound, an approach which was copied by nearly all of Los Tigres’ contemporaries of the time.

Now the story of Contrabando y Traicion may very well be an exaggeration of some sort, but one can almost see this song as a lament to the trails and tribulations of the Mexican immigrant, a reflection for some, of how much bullshit one has to go through just to cross a border. On a side note, a few movies in the 80’s were made about this ballad. Probably one of my favorite songs of this entire genre. Please enjoy!

1. Los Tigres Del Norte: Contrabando y Traicion

 

 

Day 9: Cumbia con Arpa

In Colombia, Los Llanos (the plains) are the vast agricultural lands of savannah that stretch all the way to Venezuela. Both the vallenato and cumbia originated in the northern Caribbean coast – whereas a different type of music from the plain region developed around the instrument of the harp. Musica Llanera, or so it’s called, never really got the attention that other musical genres did of the day. However, Ernesto Torrealba seems to have melded the two genres together quite well.

Cumbia Sobre El Llano is a quasi-reflection of what typical Musica Llanera is about: music with a rhythmic drive and vocals that verge on over sentimentality. But what other instrument can actually sound like the wind hitting the brush and savannah like the harp can? Possibly a testament of how bounded a music is to its own environment. Enjoy!

1. Ernesto Torrealba y su Conjunto: Cumbia Sobre El Llano

La Guitarra Ayacuchana

Here on Super Sonido we tend to focus on cumbia and the more costal/tropical sounds from Latin America but in this post I want to shine some light on music from the Andes of Peru, specifically the region my family is from, Ayacucho.

Located in the central province of Huamanga is the capital city of Ayacucho. The city is named after the historical Battle of Ayacucho, fought during the Peruvian war of independence from Spain. Upon seeing so many casualties on the battlefield, locals called the area Ayakuchu, aya meaning “dead” and kuchu meaning “corner” in the Quechua language. An appropriate moniker considering it later became the epicenter of the Maoist uprising in the 80’s, led by the rebel group Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path), an organization that gripped the country for over 20 years.

Since the times of the Spanish conquest, death and sadness have been common themes in this region -and nothing reflects this more than the melancholic rythm of la guitarra Ayacuchana. A guitar style so unique, that it is rarely heard in other parts of Peru , much less outside of the country.

The history of music from Ayacucho would be difficult to cover in one single blog post. It would probably require it’s own separate blog entirely. However, I wanted the opportunity to post some of my own personal videos and tracks – something that I hope will give the listening audience some idea of how this style of music fits into the larger picture of Peruvian popular culture. Perhaps illustrating how prominent the guitar is in Peruvian music, as reflected later in musical genres like Chicha and Cumbia Peruana. In Ayacucho the guitar became the instrument that empitomized that region’s sound. It achieved classical status while reflecting it’s indigenous melodic roots, something that tends to allude other instruments and styles such as Chicha and Cumbia, which are commonly looked down on as low class music.

Included in this post are videos that I shot back in 2001 in Huancayo, Peru . They feature my friend and mentor Rudi Felices playing various compositions, one of which he composed. During the war in the 80’s, Rudi was lucky to escape from Ayacucho with his life, he was shot in the arm as he jumped from rooftop to rooftop, escaping the city in the middle of the night. He now lives in Huancayo and works as a math teacher. In the second video clip he goes into some of the history behind one of the classic Ayacuchano songs he refers to as Temple el Diablo, also known as Helme. I have also included an MP3 version* played by the undisputed king of the guitarra Ayacuchana Raul Garcia Zarate. As the story goes, the song was written by a guy named Helme, who after finding his woman with another man, killed them both in a fit of rage and ate their hearts. In his depression, he called upon a famous quenista (flute player) and asks him to teach him a type of playing called Manchay Puito, which is the saddest music known to man; Sadder even than another style called “Yaravi”. He then began to play this music as punishment for the crime he had committed. It’s widely believed that if you play this style of music long enough it will drive you to suicide. ENJOY!!!!

- Dj Lengua

1. Raul Garcia Zarate: Helme *

2. Lira Paucina: El Solitario

3. Florencio Coronado: Arascasca



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