Agua del Sol (Tumi Music, 2012)
Bomba, a lively Afro-Puerto Rican musical genre is the focus of the album Agua del Sol by Hijos de Agüeybaná. The outstanding group presents a wide range of bomba forms, from the very traditional to salsa, jazz and electronic explorations. The album opens with ambient an electronic music and drums piece tiled Saludo al sol (greeting to the sun). From there, Hijos de Agüeybaná quickly shift to acoustic bomba, using barrel drums and the characteristic call and response vocals.
Although salsa contains a high percentage of Afro-Cuban rhythms, Hijos de Agüeybaná demonstrate how bomba was also incorporated into salsa. The title cut ‘Agua del sol’ shows us this exciting form of modern bomba by adding piano and brass. The last piece on the album showcases a great jazz arrangement of ‘Te Invito.’
Drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and researcher Ángel Luis Reyes grew up in New York City and discovered bomba at a photo shoot as a young man. “I thought it was African music. I was stunned to hear it was from my island, from my home,” he recollects. Ángel Luis returned to Puerto Rico and interviewed a lot of elder musicians and dancers to learn more about bomba. “Ask any elder and they will tell you: Bomba is respect. You have to have respect throughout, for the drums, for your partners,” Ángel Luis explains.
What’s really exciting about Hijos de Agüeybaná is that most of the songs are original compositions by Otoqui Reyes Pizarro. This means that fresh new songs are being added to the bomba music pool.
“Bomba is your heart expressing itself freely,” adds Ángel Luis. “It’s the letting go. Letting it flow freely and reach out to the world.”
Agua del Sol is an impressive album, full of irresistible rhythms that celebrate the African roots of bomba.
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