Archive for the ‘Cumbia’ Category

Interview: Eric Banta (Names You Can Trust)

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I had the chance to meet up with Eric Banta, Label Manager for NYCTrust, while he was in the Bay Area recently for some DJ gigs. Eric and I talked about his role in the NYCTrust label and the influence it has ended up having in highlighting some great new bands from Bogotá, Colombia.

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Adam Dunbar: Please introduce yourself and your record label, Names You Can Trust.

Eric Banta: My name is Eric Banta otherwise known as E’s E, and I’m one of the founders of the Names You Can Trust record label. The way it began is it started in 2005 or 2006 with myself and Oneman and Monk One coming together to create a label that would be an outlet to release music that we were feeling at time, but also to create something that we could call our own.

AD: Where did the strong Latin vibe that permeates through your label come from, and how did you decide to start putting all this great stuff out?

EB: It was kind of a natural progression of what we were into at the time. We were always into salsa music from NYC and Puerto Rico, but then we started getting more into South American styles like Cumbia, other music from Colombia, Panama, and Chile and also Peruvian Chicha. You know how it is: as a record digger in general you just get exposed to different styles of music, especially being in NYC. So, it was something that we had been into for a while and we just wound up making some stuff as Greenwood Rhythm Coalition [E’s E and Monk One] that had a Latin influence. It turns out our tracks like “Guajira ‘78” and others ended up being very well received. But we weren’t really setting out to tackle Latin music specifically; it was just something that we were doing that we loved. Making those first few records led us into contact with other crucial folks, though. We wound up getting in touch with Frento Cumbiero and Mario Galeano Toro in Bogotá, Colombia.


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GUEST MIX: DJ Sport Casual

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Despite New York City’s grim situation these days in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Brooklyn-based DJ Sport Casual hit me up with this killer mix of wild Afro Latin goodness appropriately titled “Afro Latin”. Exploring an esoteric array of African and Latin music, the mix includes everything from Colombian Highlife played by midgets to a psychedelic cumbia about E.T.!

Light one up, play it loud, and don’t forget to have a drink in honor of all our friends in NYC having a difficult time right now!

 

DJ Sport Casual – Afro Latino
Future Funk guest mix for Musica Del Alma

Tracklist:
Mandela
El Evangelio
El Regreso de E.T.
Lucky El Rastrillo
Shango
Brisas De Cartagena
Sabor a Selva
Si Dios Fuera Negro
Esa Morena
Muamba, Banana e Cola
D.K. Njohera
Loumusu
Periquito con Arroz
Paloma Blanca
Tumba Hombres
La Cocha Pechocha

NEW MIX: Cumbia Costeña

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I am happy to finally unleash the fruits of an incredible trip to the Caribbean coast of Colombia (La Costa) earlier this summer. Along with my partner in grime, San Antonio’s own Alex LaRotta, I hit up record spots from Antioquia to Soledad looking for the deepest Cumbia and heaviest Salsa I could find in a month’s time. Since returning back home stateside, the result is my latest mixtape called Cumbia Costeña: a seamless mix of heavy accordeon & flute destruction. Featuring songs from famous Vallenato musicians like Alejo Duran to more obscure Costeños like Heber Macias, the mix attempts to provide a non-stop, beat-matched exploration of the musical patrimony of the storied Caribbean coast of Colombia.

I highly recommend you crack a nice bottle of Aguardiente or Rum before you press play!

Cumbia Costeña by DJ Slim Jenkins
A Musica Del Alma Mixtape Production

Alejo Duran y su Conjunto: “Cumbia Costeña” (Fuentes)
Heber Macias: “Cumbia Linda” (Cupido)
Alberto Pacheco: “Santo Domingo” (Fuentes)
Los Corraleros de Majagual: “La Butifarra” (Fuentes)
Anibal Velasquez: “La Cumbia de Guatapa” (Discos Colombia)
Anibal Velasquez: “Mi Cumbia” (Union Musical, Venezuela)
Simon Mendoza y su Cordobesa: “Goza Marucha” (Philips)
La Monteria Swing: “La Pua” (Fuentes)
Catalino de Barranquilla y su Combo: “Tambores de Mi Tierra” (Orbe)
Juan Piña y sus Muchachos: “Zapatico Viejo” (Fuentes)
Lito Barrientos: “Oye Mi Cumbia” (Tropical)
Edmundo Arias y su Orquesta: “Venenosa” (Sonolux)
Rufo Garrido: “Se Baila Asi” (Philips)
Toño y su Combo: “Cumbia Soberana” (Philips)
Sonora Curro: “El Pajaro Prieto” (Philips)

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As mentioned above, my friend and fellow vinyl enthusiast Alex LaRotta was an indispensable digging companion on this trip. He has also just released a Cumbia mix, this one just as earth rumbling as Cumbia Costeña. It’s called ¡GUEPA CARAMBA! and it’s hosted on the always-fresh Nertorious Audioblog.

Have a listen!

LUCHO BERMUDEZ AT 100

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

 

Today would be the 100th birthday of Lucho Bermudez, a personality who speaks to us in 2012 through his classic Colombian costeño songs and continuing reverberating impact on the sonic landscape of Latin America.

Born on January 25th, 1912, in an inland town close to the beautiful beach city of Tolu, Colombia, this sartorial gentleman who is immediately recognizable from his patented slicked-back hair and thick-rimmed glasses got his big break by directing the influential Orquesta del Caribe of Cartagena. As early as the late 1930s, the band was pumping out Porros and Mapales that lit up ballrooms across the Colombian Caribbean coast in stark contrast to the popular waltzes of the day. His orchestra was largely responsible for bringing music that at the time was associated with the black lower classes into elite clubs & radio stations, first on the coast, and then into the capital of Bogota and other mostly white cities of central Colombia.

Feliz cumpleaños centenario, Lucho!

My personal favorite Bermudez track would have to be “Plinio Guzman”, a heavy Gaita that features a wicked back and forth between Lucho’s stylish clarinet and the wall of brass of his orchestra. A true Colombian masterpiece!

Lucho Bermudez: “Plinio Guzman” (Zeida, 195?)

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Lucho Bermudez: “Gaiteando” & “Mi Pueblo” (Silver, 196?)

Another incredible album by Bermudez is his Gaiteando LP, released on the famed Silver label in the 60s.  It features the classic “Arroz Con Coco” (which I won’t include here since it has been comped), along with a host of other solid music such as “Gaiteando” and the slept-on “Mi Pueblo”, a track that showcases a ridiculous trumpet player as it slowly builds up into sureshot dancefloor heat.  A classic!  Now, who has a mint copy for me?

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For more tracks by Lucho Bermudez, I strongly recommend tracking down his original Colombian LPs through eBay.  Alternatively, the Soundway Records collection that came out last year (licensed properly through the correct channels and everything) is a great way to familiarize yourself with his classics!

Guest Mix for Soul Bonanza (Japan)

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Just wanted to plug my latest Latin mix, which the cool folks at Soul Bonanza are hosting for me.   The mix, entitled “Me Gusta Como Bailas”, is a combination of my favorite styles of Latin music all in one: Pachanga, Cumbia, Descarga, Funk, Salsa, etc from places like California, Ethiopia, Colombia and Cuba!  Make sure to check back to their site for the best in Tropical sounds from Latin America, the Caribbean & Africa.

Click here to listen to the mix!

 

Guest Post: LA CUMBIA TEJANA

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Alex LaRotta is a good friend and emerging ethnomusicologist based in San Antonio, Texas.  This week he has written an outstanding overview about the incorporation of Cumbia into the Tex-Mex gamut.  Thanks, man!

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What’s often misunderstood about La Onda Chicana – the Tex-Mex musical/socio-political movement of the early 1970s – is that the ‘new sound’ emanating from Texas didn’t just incorporate American r&b and rock music, as it is popularly understood.  Tex-Mex orquestas associated with La Onda Chicana also incorporated música tropical of Caribbean and South American influence, though to a discernible lesser degree than Latin groups in New York and Chicago. The Colombian cumbia became wildly popular in Mexico by the early 1960s in part by Eduardo Baptista and his Mexico City-based musical powerhouse, Discos Peerless – one of the oldest and most influential Latin American record labels of the 20th century. As late as the mid ’60s, Peerless and its various subsidiary labels were licensing, pressing, and distributing Colombian cumbias across Central American and into the American Southwest, feeding the infectious cumbia frenzy on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, tropical groups started popping up across Mexico, emulating the great cumbia and tropical bandleaders of Colombia – Pacho Galan and Lucho Bermúdez were particularly popular figures of Mexico’s tropical scene. Though the craze wasn’t as profitable as the mambo or cha-cha-cha of several years prior, cumbia has enjoyed an arguably longer shelf life than many other of the ‘trendy’ Latin musical styles. Later re-imagined by Selena and her early ’90s pop crossover sensation, cumbia remains a genre favorite for Tejano bands even today. Needless to say, the synth-heavy and all-too-’80s sound of the modern cumbia tejana is a far stretch from its Colombian Afro-Caribbean roots, but these early Texas cumbias were remarkably pretty close to the big band sounds of Colombia’s golden age. Most Texas cumbias were covers of Colombian and Mexican hits, so while there weren’t tropical arrangers in Texas per se, Tex-mex bands of La Onda era were definitely bit by the cumbia bug.

Subtle changes to band arrangements and instrumentation can be found in La Onda records of the late ’60s/early ’70s, which had evolved from the basic bass-and-accordion conjunto instrumentation known throughout most of South Texas to big brass bands and full-bodied orquestas. Considering that both the Colombian cumbia and Tex-Mex conjunto are characteristically accordion-driven musical styles, the genre melding during La Onda heyday sounds quite natural, though notably distinct than the original Colombian compositions.

All history/ramblings aside, big up to Adam and Música del Alma for inviting me to share a few of my favorite cumbia tejana sides. Gracias compadre! Enjoy!

Sunny and The Sunliners – “La Pollera Colorada” & “Cissy Strut” from The Missing Link LP (Key-Loc, 1970)

Though Sunny and The Sunliners’ The Missing Link LP is well-known in latin funk circles (and it does get super fonky – check their rendition of The Meters’ “Cissy Strut” below for the non-believers), this record contains one of my all-time favorite cumbia covers. Sunny takes a swing at the immortal cumbia classic – “La Pollera Color·” – written by Colombian costeÒo Wilson Choperena of Pedro Salcedo y su Orquesta fame. Though no one could ever really top Choperena’s original, Sunny’s version easily qualifies for honorable mention. Wilson Chopenera recently passed on (a week ago as of this writing), but his legacy lives on with this timeless Colombian anthem and countless other compositions. R.I.P. maestro.

Little Joe and The Latinaires – “Cumbia de la Media Noche” from the Arriba! LP – (Buena Suerte, 1968)

From José ”Little Joe” Hernandez’s Arriba! LP – the debut full-length of his Buena Suerte imprint (of legendary Brothers Seven fame for the funk heads) – “Cumbia de la Media Noche” is a personal favorite. The huge (huuuge!) horns and luscious, bright keys alone gives it my Colombian stamp of approval – trust me, used only sparingly. “Cumbia de la Media Noche” was a popular cover tune of early Mexican tropical groups, recorded and popularized by Mexico’s Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto in 1964. To my knowledge, Little Joe was the first Tejano to take a crack at it.

Lalo Garciano y Su Orquesta – “Poquita Fe b/w Alegria” (El Zarape, 196?)

A relative unknown of the Tex-Mex music world (aka ungoogleable), Lalo Garciano y Su Orquesta’s “Alegria” (a typo from the real title of the song, “Alergia”, and coincidentally my Mom’s name – HI MOM!), “Alegria” is a big horn cumbia produced by Mr. Onda Chicana himself – Johnny Gonzales of the Dallas-based El Zarape Records.* Originally recorded in 1968 by popular Mexican tropical group Sonora Santanera for CBS Mexico, Garciano and his group faithfully execute a near note-to-note cover of Chico Navarro’s original. Gotta love that big bellowing “CUMBIA!” that kicks off at the top!

NEW GAITA & CUMBIA MIX: Sabor y Ritmo (DJ Slim Jenkins)

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

I’m just back from vacation and inspired to start posting regularly again. This mix has been sitting on the back burner at Casa Musica since I made it this past summer after returning from a brief digging trip to Colombia. It’s finally time to let it loose!

Some of the heavier things that I ended up finding on the trip were the Gaitas (think brass-heavy uptempo Cumbias) from labels like Tropical and Fuentes. The ferocious big-band, wall-of-brass sounds that are featured in this mix fit nicely together so I decided to put them alongside some other classic cumbias for your listening pleasure. The result is Sabor y Ritmo, the latest mix from DJ Slim Jenkins & Musica Del Alma. Gozala!

 

DJ Slim Jenkins – Sabor y Ritmo

RIGHT CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Or stream below:

TRACKLIST:

Sonora del Caribe: “Barranquillerita” (Discos Fuentes)
Edmundo Arias: “La Luna y El Pescador” (Codiscos)
Ramon Ropain / Combo Bonito: “Caracol” (Sello Vergara)
Pacho Galan: “La Funeral del Labrador” (Tropical)
Pedro Laza: “Monteria” (Discos Fuentes)
Ramon Ropain / Combo Bonito: “Cumbia Endominante” (Sello Vergara)
Los Playeros Del Caribe: “Cumbia Marina” (Melody)
Heber Macias: “Marly” (Cupido)
Los Tiburones: “Descarga Tiburones” (Tropical)
Ariza y su Combo: “Descarga en Saxofon” (Tropical)
Pedro Laza y sus Pelayeros: “La Magdalena” (Discos Fuentes)
Manuel Villanueva: “Mi Calabazao” (Tropical)
Banda 20 de Julio de Repelon: “La Chamaria” (Tropical)
Lucho Bermudez: “Mi Pueblo” (Silver)

Hot Re-Release: GRUPO 2000 + Michael Piggott Interview

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

East of the towering Andes Mountains in the cities and towns of Peru’s Amazonian jungle region, a prolific music scene emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.  The rubber boom in the 20th century saw massive migration to the area from a diverse array of enterprising laborers from the Americas and abroad (even Sephardic Jews from Morocco came to the area) in search of work.  This, adding to a significant indigenous population already living there, created an interesting cultural milieu to say the least!  The popularity of guitar-based cumbias and guarachas from Western Peru by bands such as Los Destellos and Los Diablos Rojos had an important influence on these Amazonian groups (think Los Mirlos, Juaneco, etc), but the music they created was quite unique with an incredible range of styles.

Searching out these lost Amazonian classics is Michael Piggott, who has been releasing tons of great Peruvian gems through the Light in the Attic imprint (Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical, etc).  His next project is an LP entitled El Destape by an obscure group named Grupo 2000 who were led by guitarist Tulio Trigoso.  I interviewed him recently about this recent reissue project, Peruvian music industry of the 60s & 70s, and about the Peruvian reissue game in general.

PRE-ORDER the LP here!

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Another SUPER SONIDO Guest Post!

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Some more heat from Panama to get you through the winter months!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE POST

CUMBIAS DE COLOMBIA!

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I am very pleased to share some hot Colombian Cumbias with you this week.  As a few of you might remember from an earlier post, I went to Colombia this summer mostly for work but also for vacation.  I spent two weeks in Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), which is an archaeological site in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta overlooking the Caribbean sea, doing archaeological mapping and threats monitoring.  The site was originally inhabited by an ancient group known as the Tairona.  The jaw-dropping city they built high in the mountains is a truly awe-inspiring and deeply spiritual place, now mostly overgrown by dense jungle and threatened by looters and destructive vegetation growth.   A couple of pics from the trip:

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Flash forward to last month when I was DJing with some friends in Austin, and the super-dope DJ Hobo D pulled out this crazy Cumbia 7″ by Carlos Roman called “Cumbia Tairona”.  I about lost my shit when I realized the significance of the name.  I quickly tracked down the LP that the song originally appeared on called Cumbias y Porros by Carlitos Roman y su Banda, and now I’m sharing it with y’all.

Carlos Roman, who also put out records under the name Romancito y su Curro 70 (one of their songs will be on the upcoming Colombia! 2 comp on Soundway Records early next year), was an accordion player popular on Colombia’s Caribbean coast who many people believe did not receive the credit he deserves for his musical contributions to Colombian music.  Hopefully that will all change soon!

Personal reasons aside, “Cumbia Tairona” is an explosive tune that will surely destroy any dancefloor in sight, whether in Barranquilla, New York, or San Francisco!

Carlitos Roman y su Banda: “Cumbia Tairona”
From the Cumbias & Porros LP (Sonico, Colombia, 1979)

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While I’m at it, I’ve been meaning to post up another amazing Cumbia for a hot minute now.  Juancho Vargas is still another talented yet under-appreciated Colombian musician who worked mostly with big bands during his career.  His deep song “Virgenes Del Sol” is simply put one of the most beautiful Cumbias you will ever hear, the way it builds up into an amazing back and forth between piano and female vocalist is absolutely stunning.  My absolute highest recommendation on this one!

For those interested, check out another great tune by Juancho Vargas over at Super Sonido.

Orquesta de Juancho Vargas: “Virgenes Del Sol”
From the En Ritmo de Cumbias LP (RCA, Peru, 1976)

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