Tag Archives: Colombian music

The Pan-American Musical Travels of Ladama

Ladama – Ladama (Six Degrees, 2017)

Ladama is a talented female ensemble featuring musicians from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and the United States. The band’s self-titled debut album includes a captivating mix of soul and pop with rhythms and melodies from throughout South America and the Caribbean, sometimes mixing Colombian beats and Brazilian forms. Vocals are in Spanish, Portuguese and English, where the voices of Sara Lucas and Lara Klaus stand out. Ladama uses traditional musical instruments like the bandola llanera from the plains of Venezuela, tambor alegre from Colombia and a wide range of percussion instruments.

Personnel: Mafer Bandola [María Fernanda González] (Venezuela) on bandola llanera; Lara Klaus (Brazil) on vocals and percussion; Daniela Serna (Colombia) on vocals and tambor alegre; and Sara Lucas (United States of America) on vocals, classical guitar and electric guitar.

Guests: Nathan Koci on accordion; Pat Swoboda on acoustic and electric bass; Kyla-Rose Smith on violin; Alex Asher on trombone; cole Kamen-Green on trumpet; and Mohamed Araki on keyboards.



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Artist Profiles: La cumbiamba eNeYé

La cumbiamba eNeYé

La cumbiamba eNeYé is an ensemble that performs concerts and workshops with traditional instruments from the African Diaspora in Colombia, as well as indigenous and European instruments and influences. All these are mixed together in the traditional musical styles that developed throughout the colonial era, and continue to evolve. “eNeYé” has the range of versatility to perform from a quintet format, for reduced space events; up to a 10-piece band format for large events.

La cumbiamba eNeYé was created in the summer of 2000 with a group of skilled musicians who share an enthusiasm for investigating, performing and advancing musical expressions emanating from the combination of African, Indigenous, and European cultural contributions in the Americas.

Initially, La cumbiamba eNeYé began performing a repertoire of cumbia related rhythms outdoors in different public areas of New York City. Given these circumstances, “Eneyé” adopted its denomination of ‘cumbiamba’ from the cultural vocabulary of the northwestern Caribbean coast in South America. In Colombia, ‘cumbiamba’ is a familiar word, which carries the meaning of an outdoors celebration with live cumbia music, or the bands that perform in such events. La cumbiamba eNeYé evokes this lively atmosphere with every performance, and has also extended them into different cultural venues throughout the city and beyond.

La cumbiamba eNeYé’s musical work and development is shaped by traditional styles that emanate from the popular coastal traditions in which music is just one of the various artistic manifestations. The group takes coastal music as a departing point and source of material not only because of the musical background of some of the members, but because coastal traditions in Colombia, as in other regions of the Caribbean are inexhaustible fountains of artistic traditions. In Colombia having two different coastal regions, Atlantic and Pacific, which have led to distinct cultural traditions, doubles this situation.

La cumbiamba eNeYé’s approach to music is investigative. However, from the styles, genres, rhythms, and melodies explored, the group is inspired to create new arrangements and even entirely new compositions, which although traditional influenced, may have eclectic characteristics in texture, harmony or rhythm. This aspect of La cumbiamba eNeYé can be seen as the result of being a New York born and based group, where interactions and continuous contact with musicians from different places around the world generates new possibilities.

Since its beginnings, La cumbiamba eNeYé has been working from a handful of traditional kinds styles present in Colombia. Some of these musical styles are:
Gaitas y Tambores, Banda Pelayera, Terapia or Champeta, Conjunto de marimba, and Chirimía.


Marioneta (Chonta Records, 2006)

Web sites: http://www.lacumbiambaeneye.com


Earthbound Systema Solar

Systema Solar – Rumbo a tierra (Nacional Records/ Polen Records, 2017)

Rumbo a tierra is the third album by one of Colombia’s most exciting acts. Systema Solar is an audiovisual collective from the Caribbean coastal area that skillfully brings together various musical genres.

Cartagena and other ports are cultural melting pots and this is the environment where Systema Solar develops its craft. The band mixes Colombian melodies and rhythms, including the local champeta criolla, with reggae, calypso, Afrobeat, blues, Gnawa grooves, salsa, DJ scratching, electronic beats and much more.

Systema Solar celebrates the talent of female dancers and the verbenas, the block parties that are popular in the Caribbean region of Colombia featuring sound systems and lots of dancing. Concern for the environment is another topic of great interest to band members. Climate change and pollution are affecting the region and band members want to bring more attention to the effects of misguided policies.

The band has added new musical instruments to its arsenal, including the Gnawa guimbri (sentir) and the caja vallenata. They also invited one of Colombia’s great contemporary salsa bands, La 33 to participate in Rumbo a tierra.

The current lineup includes Dani Boom, Pellegrino, Pata de Perro, Indigo, Andrews Malandrews, Jhon Primera and DJ Corpas.

Rumbo a tierra is an irresistible cross-genre recording that should appeal to a wide range of musical fans beyond Latin and world music. It showcases the talent, creativity and vital energy of one of Colombia’s finest acts, Systema Solar.

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Artist Profiles: Anibal Velasquez

Anibal Velasquez and his band

Anibal Velasquez, known by his fans as “El Mago” (the Magician), has been one of the most prolific musicians of Colombia’s Musica Tropical movement. Anibal was born into a musical family in Barranquilla in 1936. His father was an accomplished musician but his biggest influence was his older brother Juan who first introduced him to the secrets of the accordion.

One of the turning points was a chance encounter with Robertico Roman, a musician from Cartagena. “It was with Roberlico Roman that I formed my first band called Los Vallenatos de Magdalena. I made my first recording with that band in 1952. Four songs were recorded including a track called ‘La Gallina,’ which became a huge hit and really spread the coastal sound toward the interior of the country.”

Unfortunately soon after, in 1955, band-mate Robertico died and Los Vallenatos de Magdalena had to disband. Without a band, Anibal was forced to take a job as a session musician for Barranquilla-based label Disco Eva working for a group called El Conjunto Colomboy. He remained with Disco Eva until the end of the 1950s, working closely with the great costeño master Lucho Campilo.

Then, in 1960, Anibal formed a new group together with his elder brother Juan, a gifted musician in his own right, and his younger brother Jose who would soon become his right hand man, enabling Anibal to add a new dimension to his playing style.

Jose himself began experimenting by incorporating new instruments and re-inventing old rhythms, He would break the rules and replaced the traditional bongos used in Cuban guaracha and rumba with a traditional Colombian drum called “La Caja” that he modified by adding “radiografias médicas” (x-ray films) over the drum. This, combined with Anibal’s powerful accordion – was to become a sensation, generating a much harder and drier sound than the traditional leather skin drums.

Anibal’s new guaracha style was infectious, fast and furious, often leading his crowds into a state of frenzy. The interest for Anibal’s new innovative sound started growing and numerous recording offers came in.

Anibal began to have an impressive amount of followers, drawing huge crowds wherever he went. By the mid-1960s, music in La Costa began to change drastically. With the onset of the hippie movement in the United States came a craving for marijuana, and Colombia’s Caribbean Coast had become a main trafficking hub. A new economy of drugs had emerged and with it a musical style called Vallenato rose to prominence.

Vallenato’s distinct accordion sound and bluesy appeal made it a favorite among drug lords and mafiosos alike, becoming the soundtrack for their feverish life-styles. By the 1970s the level of violence in the coast had grown to unprecedented heights and Vallenato was everywhere. Fed up with this, Anibal decided to move to Caracas, Venezuela, where he remained for 18 years until finally returning bock to his beloved Barranquilla in the late 1980s.

Anibal’s contribution to Colombia’s Musica Tropical Movement is very significant. It is said that Anibal Velasquez recorded 300 LPs throughout his remarkable career.

Selected Discography

* Ritmo y el Sabor (2005)
* Mambo Loco (Analog Africa, 2010)


M.A.K.U. Soundsystem to Perform at Sunset Concerts in Los Angeles

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem
M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

Colombian band M.A.K.U. Soundsystem is set to perform on Thursday, August 11, at 8:00 PM at Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts in Los Angeles.
An eight-piece band based in New York City, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem explores the immigrant experience through an exciting blend of musical styles honoring their cultural heritage.

Psychedelic rock, funk, jazz, Afro-beat, and Caribbean grooves combine with the music of indigenous Colombian peoples and West African and Spanish influences-creating a sound sure to bring audiences to their feet.

In their latest album, Mezcla (the Spanish word for “mix”), they invite listeners to rediscover the United States through the eyes and ears of Colombian immigrants. The band formed in 2010 and has released two independent albums and one EP.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500


Savagely Hip M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem – Mezcla (Glitterbeat Records, 2016)

Done your stretches? Done your deep breathing exercises? Well, you’re going to need them when you get an earful of the eight-member, New York City based group M.A.K.U. Soundsystem’s Mezcla set for release on May 27th on the Glitterbeat Records label.

With a ferocious sound that comes with a bite and a message with an even bigger bite, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem whips up a mix of Colombian and Afro-Colombian with dashes of funk, Afrobeat, jazz and hip-hop thrown in for good measure. Savagely kickass, Mezcla rips the bindings of polite recordings in favor a live sounding recording all the while examining the immigrant experience.

The group’s bassist and singer Juan Ospina explains, “They’re putting their lives at risk to come to El Norte, but the borders they cross have all been created by man. Look down from space and you won’t see them.

This message is apparent as Mezcla’s liner notes dedicate the album to “The Everyday People of all races and backgrounds, [e]specially to those who find within their spirit the strength to outgrow the hardship inside themselves to promote a positive life for all amidst the wickedness of the few who constantly rule this world to turmoil and despair.”

So, take that, tyrants!

Filling out M.A.K.U. Soundsystem is drummer and backing vocalist Andres Jimenez; electric guitarist and backing vocalist Camilo Rodriguez; keyboardist and synth player Felipe Quiroz; clarinetist and saxophonist Isaiah Richardson Jr.; electric bassist and lead vocalist Juan Ospina; tambora and maracon player, percussionist and lead vocalist Liliana Conde; tambor alegre player, percussionist and backing vocalist Moris Canate; and trombonist Robert Stringer.

Thrilling and electrifying fans from the opening “Agua” with its sizzling blend of percussion, brass and keyboards, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem makes short work of drawing listeners in with offerings like the uninhibitedly wild “Thank You Thank You,” the savagely cool Afro-Colombian percussion of “Let It Go” and the sultry “Positivo.”

Some reviewers have called the music “raw” and “gritty,” but for those looking for an authentic, non-overproduced recording Mezcla is the real deal. That often sought after live performance energy comes across loud and clear on Mezcla. Other goodies include the fun filled “La Inevitable,” the sassy bright “La Haitiana” and infectiously danceable “Happy Hour.”

Mr. Ospina says, “We try to keep it human, to give people something they can relate to.”

The brightly colored music of M.A.K.U. Soundsystem’s Mezcla is savagely hip and restlessly sharp so you still have time to build up your stamina before May 27th.

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Colombia Guest of Honor at Rudolstadt Festival 2016


The 26th edition of the Rudolstadt Festival will feature Colombia as the focus country. Ten bands will showcase the cultural contrasts and traditions that stem from its indigenous, African and Spanish heritage. Rudolstadt Festival will take place July 7-10, 2016.

Cumbia is one of the best known genres from Colombia. Colombian band Sidestepper has reinvented itself and its new musical direction replaces electronic sound with a new simplicity and more acoustic instruments. Sidestepper’s latest recording is Supernatural Love (Real World Records, 2016)

For a more traditional approach of cumbia with accordion, Carmelo Torres will perform at Rudolstadt Colombian harp master Edmar Castañeda, Afro-Colombian flutist Sixto Silgado “Paíto”; Profetas; Rancho Aparte; Retrovisor, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, Carmelo Torres y su cumbia sabanera, Las Áñez & Martha Hincapie.

More details at rudolstadt-festival.de/en/


Colombian Gaita Fire

Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto – Un Fuego de Sangre Pura

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released the latest album by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, Un Fuego de Sangre Pura. The album features 14 new tracks, recorded in Colombia and New York. “Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto has been the most important gaita ensembles in Colombia since the mid-1950s,” writes Hispanic music scholar Ana Maria Ochoa in the liner notes.

This CD represents a vibrant, living tradition from a war-torn country. Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto has been a Colombian music institution since the 1930s, having toured China, Russia, Japan,
Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other European countries in their long tenure.

The group won a 1968 Olympic Cultural Medal. The frontmen on the recording are Joaquín Nicolás Hernández (gaita and maraca), Manuel Antonio “Tono” García (gaita) and Juancho “Chuchita” Fernandez (vocals), all descendants of founding members of the group.

The album title, translated to mean ‘A Fire of Pure Blood,’ refers to cumbia music’s mythical status as emblematic of its community of origin; the cumbia originated along Colombia’s Caribbean perimeter, the living legacy of Spanish, African and indigenous peoples.

Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto are masters of Colombia’s puya and porro music as well as gaita corrida. The gaita ensemble consists of two duct-flutes called gaitas (not to be confused with the Spanish gaita, which is a bagpipe), a maraca, and three drums and may contain a singer. The gaita, a wind instrument fashioned from wood, beeswax and a feather, actually has indigenous origins.

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