Colombian band Cimarrón announced that the group’s musical director and harp player Carlos “Cuco” Rojas died on Friday, January 10, 2020, in Bogotá, Colombia, after suffering a heart condition.
Cimarrón is Colombia’s best know joropo act. Carlos Rojas Hernández, an educator and innovator of the Colombian joropo, achieved a widely recognized career in more than 38 countries on five continents, alongside his romantic partner, singer Ana Veydó.
The band’s press releases states: “Carlos Rojas Hernández leaves an indelible mark on the history of Colombian music, with his name in dozens of record productions as a performer, producer, arranger and composer.
Cimarrón is committed to honor the legacy, memory, life and work of its eternal director and harper.”
Accordion player and composer, Carmelo Torres is considered one of the leading Colombian cumbia performers. He is the living legacy of Cumbia Sabanera, a rural accordion style of cumbia from San Jacinto, in the Caribbean region of Colombia, influenced by traditional flutes.
He learned to play vallenato first, by himself, before he met the ‘King of Cumbia’, Andrés Landero who became his teacher at an early age. Carmelo started to play cumbias.
Since Landero passed away in 2000, Carmelo’s main focus has been to carry on his teacher’s legacy, keeping the cumbia genre alive and teaching the youngest.
Carmelo is now known as The Accordion Bible. In 2019, Carmelo Torres’ music still has the fragrance of the countryside. The sabana is present when he sings about labor works, nature, life and love. His music can be danced in nightclubs, making it part of new generations, looking backwards and towards the future in the same song.
With his group, he has performed widely at home in Colombia at Caribbean festivals winning all the contests and at the prestigious Festival Colombia al Parque in Bogotá in 2013. Torres has also travelled extensively with his conjunto as far as Europe, Australia, South Korea, Morroco and throughout Latin America, in México, Panamá, Perú, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil.
Los Titanes has been recognized as the most representative Colombian salsa orchestra in countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, US, Canada, and in Europe. Conducted by trombonist Alberto Barros under the label Discos Fuentes, Los Titanes came to life in 1982.
A native of Barranquilla, Alberto Barros, musical director, (former musical director of Grupo Niche) pursued his academic studies in the city’s music conservatory. He also participated in other successful orchestras, namely that of Adolfo Echeverria and Pacho Galan. During that same year’s edition of the Carnaval de Barranquilla’s Music Festival, Los Titanes was awarded a Congo de Oro.
1986 was the year in which this orchestra first began recording albums, success didn’t take long to come their way. In 1989, the single “Sobredosis” topped the Salsa charts and became the most listened song of the year. From their fourth album, the title “Por Retenerte”, by Quindio-born composer Pedro Neira, became a smash hit.
Oscar Quesada, joined Los Titanes as a vocalist in 1989. Born in Barrancabermeja, Quesada first took part in a trio, through which he accumulated a number of awards, he then left to put together his own band, and finally joined the ranks of Los Titanes.
Brigido Cheverra, aka Macondo, sings Alberto Barros’ “No me Vuelvo a Enamorar” and Isaac Villanueva M.’s “Desnuda”. Macondo, born in Turbo, Antioquia, began his artistic career singing Folk and African-American melodies. Later, he took part in other orchestras and finally became a member of Los Titanes.
In November of 1989, Los Titanes traveled to the US. Their sixth release came in 1991, along with a Peruvian award as best international orchestra. In 1993, after 11 years in the music industry, Los Titanes began to be recognized as the best salsa representative by audiences in US, Spain, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland and Latin America. “Basto una Mirada”, “Loca Pasion”, and “Dame una Oporunidad” are always awaited with expectation during any concert. These and other hits have a special place in the hearts of Salsa fans.
Los Titanes, today considered the international ambassadors of Colombian salsa, have everything that is necessary to succeed in the world of Caribbean music, and succeed they have. With their blend of a trombone driven Salsa rhythm, romantic lyrics, and accomplished vocals that have characterized their artistic style since the late 1980s.
Los Titanes y Sus Invitados (1981) Los Titanes (1982) Llegaron los Titanes (1985) Furor Bailable (1986) Apriétala (1988) Sobredosis de Amor y Salsa (1989) Amor y Salsa (1990) Tentación (1991) En Su Salsa (1993) Bastó Una Mirada (1993) 6a. Avenida (1994) El Titán de la Salsa (1995) Grandes Éxitos de Salsa (1995) Rompiendo Esquemas (1996) Salsa al Máximo Voltaje (1998) Tributo a Héctor Lavoe “La Voz” (1999) Salsa Magic (2001) Tremenda Salsa (2001) Salsa Super Power (2003) Heavy Salsa (2003) Mano a Mano (2008) Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana Vol. 3 (2010) Essential de Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana (2011) Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana Vol. 4 (2012) Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana Vol. 5 (2013)
The Grupo Cimarrón ensemble is known for their explosive música llanera (plains music) and fast-paced, triple-meter joropo. They live up to the meaning of their name Cimarrón: “wild bull.”
Since creating Grupo Cimarrón in 1986, leader and harpist Carlos Rojas has looked both backward and forward in time. The música llanera and joropo have roots in 19th-century Colombia, and the style of singing, playing and instruments used have been carefully modeled on tradition. The ensemble has created a new mix by emphasizing rhythm and creativity and insisting that joropo dance be a part of the performance wherever possible. Grupo Cimarrón has performed in China, Europe, and North and South America.
Harp, guitars (bandola and cuatro), maracas, wooden box drum (cajón) and the rhythm of the dancers’ feet are the instruments used by the high-energy Grupo Cimarrón, all of whom carry strong ties to the cattle country of the Colombian plains. Each band member is a virtuoso in his or her own discipline, and the albums provides a medium for both collective and individual expression.
The group’s 2004 Smithsonian Folkways release Sí, Soy Llanero earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional World Album.
Cimarrón musical director and harper Carlos “Cuco” Rojas died on Friday, January 10, 2020, in Bogotá, Colombia
La Chiva Gantiva is a Belgian band rooted in Afro-Colombian music. La Chiva Gantiva was founded around 2011 in Brussels by three Colombian students: Rafael Espinel, Natalia Gantiva and Felipe Decker. The group later grew into a multinational band with members of Colombian, Vietnamese, Belgian and Chilean origin. Their style combines Afro-Colombian rhythms with rock, afrobeat and funk.
In 2010, La Chiva Gantiva received the Premio SHOCK, an annual award given by Colombian television. The band has performed at festivals and venues in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Benin, the United States and Canada.
Guitarist and singer-songwriter Mónica Giraldo was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She studied music at Universidad de los Andes in her hometown and later studied further at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.
Since her return to Colombia, she recorded several albums: Muy Cerca (Very Close) in 2005 with Producer Felipe Álvarez (Polen Records); Todo da Vueltas (Everything Turns) in 2008 with Producer Mauricio Pantoja and independent label Codiscos, which earned her a nomination for Best New Artist at the 2008 Latin Grammys.
She also released Que venga la vida (Let life come) with Polen Records in 2014, and Bajo el mismo cielo (Under The Same Sky) in 2017, co-produced by Giraldo, Mauricio Pantoja and Andrés Peláez.
Mónica Giraldo has collaborated with various artists in various albums, such as Mestizajes with the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010, La Voz de mi Padre (My Father’s Voice) in 2011, and in Café Latino and Café del Mundo by Putumayo Records in 2013-2014. Her performing career includes venues in Colombia, Mexico, USA, France, and Japan among others.
Mónica Giraldo is a woman strolling two paths. The first one is taking her deeper and deeper into the soul of Colombian music, surrounded by the energy of her native land’s traditional rhythms such as cumbia and bullerengue. The other one leads her out and away, enjoying melodies and harmonies from the world.
Al Oido -The best of Mónica Giraldo presents one of the finest singer-songwriters in the current Colombian scene. Mónica Giraldo delivers a set of beautiful songs, accessible and exquisite at the same time.
Mónica Giraldo has an engaging vocal style that immediately hooks you in. She’s also an excellent guitar player and her intention is to highlight the role of the guitar in Colombian music.
Mestizaje (hybridization) has been a focus for Mónica Giraldo for several years. She incorporates Colombian traditional genres such as cumbia and bullerengue along with Cuban and Brazilian musical influences.
The CD version of this album is highly recommended. It includes a nicely-designed booklet with notes, lyrics and credits in Spanish and English.
Al Oido – The best of Mónica Giraldo is an excellent introduction to the beautifully-crafted songs of Mónica Giraldo.
Sonia Bazanta Vides, better known as Totó La Momposina, is a remarkable singer and dancer. She has earned respect and admiration in many parts of the world for the power and spontaneity of her performance. Drawing on the music and dance of the Colombian Caribbean, her work is rooted and inspired by a rich cultural mix that combines elements from African, indigenous and Spanish traditions.
On stage, Totó’s dynamic set of songs and dances is accompanied by a range of traditional instruments, but she also performs with three generations of her own family, her daughter Eurídice, and her granddaughter, María del Marpero, both of whom also since and dance. Totó presents rhythms from Colombia’s Caribbean coast alongside Cuban son, guaracha, rumba and bolero.
Totó La Momposina was born in the small village of Talaigua, on the island of Mompos, in Colombia’s Atlantic coast, off the Great Magdalene River. This island was at one time a sanctuary to fugitive African slaves from Cuba. As a result, Totó La Momposina’s music, like most of the music from the Caribbean, is heavily influenced by African music in addition to its European and indigenous roots. Born into a family of musicians spanning 5 generations, Totó learned to sing and dance as a child. She used to sing a cappella at parties and festivities in Colombia.
As a young woman, Totó traveled from village to village researching the lore of her people. She became a cantadora. A cantadora (singer) is more than someone who sings songs. It means she has a certain social position of responsibility. Traditionally cantadoras grow yucca, plantain and pumpkins on their land. They supply marital advice and herbal medicine, prepare authentic foods and drinks and participate and sing traditional music in its original form at public functions.
Totó has been performing cumbia music professionally for over thirty years. The music is the result of the fused influences of her culture. It is music to be appreciated, but also, as she is quick to remind her audiences, it is music which should be danced.
Her performances are a living catalog of the traditional music and dances found in the Caribbean. Totó La Momposina and her ensemble Sus Tambores, (her drummers) perform more than 10 styles of Caribbean music. During the course of their show, elements of cumbia, gaita, porro, bullerenge, garabato, mapale and chalupa are performed.
On stage she performs the songs the villagers sing to accompany them while they perform their chores. Her song Pilandera for example is a song with a rhythm that is used to pace the pounding of corn. Another song contains lyrics which are meant to break the monotony of scrubbing cloths in the river.
Rapidly gaining a reputation for her impressive voice and presence she began to appear outside Colombia in the 1970s touring everywhere with her 12-piece band in a conscious effort to preserve her people’s music. “I feel a brotherhood with the drums from Senegal and Cuba,” she says. “They play a universal language with which Colombians are well acquainted.” In 1991 WOMAD took her to Europe and she performed at their festival. Since that period, she is still performing all other the world.
In 2011 she received the National Life and Work Award from the Ministry of Culture of Colombia. In 2013, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Grammy.
Colombian percussionist and composer Samuel Torres was born September 4, 1976 in Bogotá, Colombia. He has toured with Arturo Sandoval, and has played with renowned jazz artists such as the late Tito Puente, Chick Corea, Poncho Sanchez, and more.
On his debut album Skin Tones, Torres created a world of sweet sounds with his original compositions. Utilizing the seminal rhythms of his homeland, a long-standing love of song and melody, and the sounds of his conga drums and other percussion instruments, he enriched his passion for African and Cuban rhythms with a knowledge of classical composition, elements of jazz and improvisation, and a lifetime of listening.
He has recorded with Alejandro Sanz, Sarah Aroeste, Lara Bello, Lila Downs, The Chieftains, Edmar Castañeda, Richard Bona, and Shakira.