The United States is celebrating the month-long Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October. 15, 2015. Hispanic Heritage Month honors the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2014 was 55 million, making people of Hispanic origin the United States’ largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the US’s total population.
We are going to take a quick look at some of the most interesting Hispanic-related world music release of 2015 as well earlier recordings that have come across our desk recently.
One of the most impressive voices in the Argentine folk music world is Juan Iñaki, from Cordoba, who delivers chacareras, zambas, huainos, valses, vidalas, chilenas, rancheras and a baineraos. His latest recording is De siesta y monte.
“Germina” is the cross-cultural album released in Argentina and Mexico by activist singer-songwriter Nico Falcoff and his band la Insurgencia del Caracol.
Toronto has become the home for many Cuban musicians and other artists from Latin America. That’s why you’ll hear first rate salsa on Lula All Stars’ “Salsa de la Buena.”
Chico Trujillo has become one of the leading tropical music acts in Chile. Todas las Fiestas presents the Chilean masters of popular dance music.
Colombia has become one of the leading hotspots for great music rooted in tradition. Although the music from the Caribbean coast of Colombian has attracted most of the attention, fabulous music is coming out of the pacific coast. One of the best is Herencia de Timbiquí, a band that performs a hot mix of Afro-Colombian Pacific music mixed with salsa and rock. The group’s sound is characterized by the captivating marimba de chonta.
Curupira’s album Regenera showcases a melting pot of Colombian music with elements from other parts of the globe such as West African balafon. The group also uses acoustic instruments and the rare theremin.
One of the best known acts from Colombia is vocalist and dancer Totó La Momposina. Her latest album “Tambolero” strips away studio arrangements and produces a grassroots version of her songs with voice and drums.
If you miss the Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit Records has unearthed additional recordings by this cherished ensemble of veteran Cuban artists, some of whom have passed away by now. The new album is Buena Vista Social Club Lost & Found.
Mexican singer-songwriter Lila Downs turns towards Mexican and Latin American popular music on Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and Chocolate). The album includes guest appearances by Latin music stars Juanes and Juan Gabriel.
Peru has a thriving electronic dance music scene. Some people in the world music field might be familiar with Novalima, who combine electronica with Afro-Peruvian music. Their latest recording is Planetario.
Peru Boom: Bass, Bleeps & Bumps From Peru’s Electronic Underground is a compilation featuring bass heavy pieces by leading Peruvian producers and DJs: Dengue Dengue Dengue, DJ Chakruna, Animal Chuki and Deltatron. Genres include chicha and Peruvian cumbia mixed with dubstep, techno, trap, grime, and house.
Another act from Peru takea totally different direction, Kanaku y el Tigre’s “Quema Quema Quema” is intensely influenced by North American roots music.
Sephardic music is experiencing considerable growth with a number of talented artists from various parts of Europe, Israel and other countries. One of the most exciting Sephardic acts is Jerusalem-born Mor Karbasi, an outstanding singer who relocated to London and later to Sevilla (Spain). She sings in Spanish and Ladino, incorporating Spanish copla and flamenco and global sounds. Her most recent recording is “La Tsadika.”
From Russia comes “Juego de Siempre” by Anna Hoffman & Romancero Sefardí. This recording Middle Eastern and flamenco influences.
The world music scene in Spain continues to produce fascinating fusions and mestizo music as well as flamenco and traditional and contemporary folk music from various regions.
The mesmerizing “Rústica” features four of the best known artists from the Galician contemporary folk scene: bagpiper and vocalist Cristina Pato; vocalist and percussionist Davide Salvado; zanfona (hurdy-gurdy) master Anxo Pintos; and accordionist Roberto Comesaña.
Javier Paxariño is a renowned flute and saxophone player who has been fusing jazz with flamenco and global music for years. His latest incarnation is with the Javier Paxariño Trio featuring Josete Ordoñez on guitar, mandola, and electric lute; and Manu de Lucena on cajón, darbuka, jembe and drums. Their new album “Dagas de Fuego” (2015) features Gnawa rhythms, ajechao from Extremadura (western Spain), flamenco and other influences from the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean.
Spanish singer-songwriter and composer Josefina Gómez Llorente (better known as La Jose) is a leading flamenco crossover vocalist in Spain. Her mestizo flamenco sound is connected to her own family roots: she’s the daughter of a Gypsy man and a non-Gypsy mother. Her excellent album Espiral (released in Spain in 2014 and internationally in 2015) brings together flamenco ad global sounds.
Eliseo Parra is one of the most influential musicians in Spain. He has explored traditional folk music from many Spanish regions. His fascinating recreations of traditional music with new arrangements appear on “El Man Sur.”
Celebrated flamenco guitarist Juan Carlos Romero released Paseo de los Cipreses (Cypress Boulevard) earlier this year.
Southern Spanish singer-songwriter and cellist Maui, currently based in Madrid, has a new album titled Viaje interior (Nuevos Medios) where she shows her talent as a songwriter in an album that blends flamenco and various other genres.
Another leading Galician act is vocalist Davide Salvado. On his album “Lobos” (wolves) he showcases a new vision of the rhythms, dances and songs he compiled during his field trips through rural Galicia.
Marta Casas Mairal celebrates the jota, the traditional dance from Aragon, in her album “Soniando” (Nuevos Medios). In this case, she mixes jota with jazz.
“El Fill Del Llop” is the latest solo album by Efrén López, a multi-instrumentalist from eastern Spain who has explored the music of both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, East and west. “El Fill Del Llop” contains Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Persian and Medieval music influences. Recorded in Spain and Greece.
Cuban American José Conde has released one of the best recordings of Cuban son and salsa of 2015 with his band Ola Fresca. The album is Elixir.
Banda de Los Muertos (Band of the Dead) is a Mexican brass band from Brooklyn, New York. This group features musicians from Mexico, the USA and other countries. It’s deeply inspired by the Sinaloa brass bands. Banda de Los Muertos’ debut album is a tribute to the early years of the genre, but also a re-interpretation of the Mexican Banda tradition.
The Unity album celebrates the music of Michael Jackson seen through Latin music. This production features salsa, pop, R&B and rock versions of Jackson’s songs performed in English and Spanish by well-known Latin music artists.
Trombone master Papo Vázquez and his band the Mighty Pirates Troubadours fuse Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms with Latin jazz on their recent recording titled Spirit Warrior.
The popular Bugalú (boogaloo) of the late 1960s reappears in an updated form on Spanglish Fly’s “New York Boogaloo,” released just a few weeks ago.
Popular southern Florida Cuban American band Tiempo Libre celebrates Cuban irresistible timba and Latin music on Panamericano.
Remarkable Texas band Grupo Fantasma is back with its unique form of Latin funk. Their brand new album is “Problemas.”
On her new album Viva Bandolera, multifaceted Austin singer-songwriter, musician, videographer and actress, Patricia Vonne celebrates the Hispanic musical roots of Texas.
The Venezuelan delegation at this year’s EXIB showcase gave us a bunch of Venezuelan releases. One of the highlights from Venezuela is Jahkogba, an excellent world fusion band from Maracaibo that mixes reggae, electronica, jazz and world music.
La Dimension Latina is one of the most beloved salsa bands in Venezuela. The salsa pioneers are celebrating their 43rd anniversary with “43 años de pura candela.”
Los Crema Paraiso’s De Pelicula! have created a cinematic mix of Venezuelan film music and jazz.
Vintage Latino, Putumayo’s latest collection focuses on old time, nostalgic and timeless Latin music genres from across Hispanic America and the USA. Vintage Latino includes some of the lesser-known but nonetheless outstanding music of musicians from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. It also includes other Cuban legends and respected trios who performed in cafés and prostibulos (brothels) in pre-Castro Cuba.
The Vintage Latino lineup includes Trio Melodicos (Cuba), Rolando La Serie (Cuba), République Démocratique du Mambo (France), Lágrima Ríos with Gustavo Santaolalla (Uruguay/Argentina), Armando Garzón (Cuba/Mexico), Las Rubias del Norte (USA), Néstor Torres (Puerto Rico), Orquesta La Moderna Tradición (USA), Trio Zamora (Cuba), Simón Díaz (Venezuela), Arista (Colombia), and Yuri Buenaventura (Colombia)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.