Tag Archives: Plena Libre

Music for Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

Throughout September and October, the Spanish-speaking nations and Hispanic residents in the United States celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) in the United States. Other countries celebrate the Dia de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Heritage Day).

During the monthlong Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the United States honors the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. World Music Central has put together a list of recent recordings that showcase the diversity of Hispanic music.

Old-School Revolution is an irresistible album by the Hip Spanic Allstars, a new supergroup that brings together members of iconic bands Santana, Tower of Power, Spearhead, and Los Mocosos.

The multinational band celebrates and updates the exciting music made in the 1970s where Spanish Caribbean salsa and Latin jazz met rock and African American soul and funk.

 

One of the most exciting artists out of Cuba is Eme Alfonso, a talented artist that grew up in a family of groundbreaking musicians, Grupo Sintesis. Her album discography includes Eme (Colibrí) and Voy. Eme has been releasing a series of mesmerizing videos with her latest songs, including:

 

Cuba is also a land of extraordinary pianists. This is year there has been a wave of albums by some of Cuba’s finest, who combine jazz and Cuban roots music: Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1130, 2018), Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse (Machat Records, 2018), and Un Día Cualquiera by Harold López-Nussa (Mack Avenue).

 

Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream

 

 

Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse

 

 

Harold López-Nussa – Un Día Cualquiera

 

 

Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares – Aguas

Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa has a new album with fellow Cuban vocalist and violinist Yilian Cañizares titled Aguas, scheduled for release on OTA Records on October 5, 2018. Afro-Cuban roots meet Western classical music, and jazz.

 

Eliades Ochoa and Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana

The legendary Cuban guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Eliades Ochoa (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) has released a delightful instrumental album with Cuban guitarist Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana (Tumi Music, 2018).

One of the iconic Cuban albums of the 1990s, A toda Cuba le gusta (World Circuit) by Afro-Cuban All Stars has been remastered and reissued on vinyl.

Canada-based Cuban musicians Okan (Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne) have a debut EP titled Laberinto, scheduled for release October 19, 2018. Okan mixes fusion jazz, traditional Cuban music, Mexican influences and jazz swing.

 

 

Mariachi Herencia de México – Herencia de la Tierra Mía

 

With 127 million residents, Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country. The Mexican diaspora has brought mariachi music, norteño and son jarocho to the United States. Mariachi Herencia de México, formed by students from Chicago’s Mexican-American neighborhoods has a new album titled Herencia de la Tierra Mía (Heritage of My Land).

The charming self-released album features iconic Mexican American world music artist Lila Downs, Mexican mariachi star Aida Cuevas and Mexican harp virtuoso Ivan Velasco Herencia de la Tierra Mía includes sones, passionate boleros and a delightful jarocho medley. It was produced by acclaimed Spanish producer Javier Limón, director of the Mediterranean Music Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

Magos Herrera – Dreamers

Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera (currently based in New York) celebrates Ibero-American (the music of Spanish and Portuguese countries) culture on her new album Dreamers (Sony Music Masterworks). Magos Herrera collaborates with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider. This is not a chamber jazz album, but rather a cross-genre recording where Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider invited guest percussionists on flamenco and global percussion, and flamenco star Miguel Poveda.

Magos Hererera performs songs with lyrics by renowned songwriters and poets and writers, including Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca. It’s a fascinating production with exquisite arrangements.

 

Radio Jarocho and Zenen Zeferino – Rios de Norte y Sur

 

Son jarocho, with its captivating guitars and poetic lyrics combines the basic roots of Veracruz’s Mexican musical culture: Spanish guitars and poetry, indigenous rhythms and Afro-Caribbean influence. New York-based Radio Jarocho and acclaimed Veracruz musician Zenen Zeferino have released Rios de Norte y Sur.

 

 

Wu Man & Son de San Diego – Fingertip Carnival

A different take on son jarocho is the remarkable Fingertip Carnival, a collaboration between Chinese pipa (lute) maestra Wu Man and son jarocho ensemble Son de San Diego.

 

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles – Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released the self-titled album Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. This groundbreaking all-female ensemble has served as a role model for Hispanic women in music. This is classic spirited mariachi at its best. The album includes a 44-page booklet with notes in English and Spanish.

 

. Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica

The highly romantic boleros are very popular across the Spanish-speaking nations. A form of rootsy guitar-based bolero has developed in Mexico’s Costa Chica region bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica (ARC Music) features some of the finest acts from the region, including Pedro Torres, Fidela Peláez, Chogo Prudente, Los Tres Amuzgos, and Las Hermanas García.

 

Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco

¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2028) is the new album from one of son jarocho’s leading acts Mono Blanco, a group created in the late 1970s by Gilberto Gutierrez Silva.

 

Plena Libre – Amores en el Camino

Gary Nuñez & Plena Libre have been touring extensively with their explosive mix of Puerto Rican plen and bomba, salsa and jazz. Amores en el Camino (Love’s Journey) is their 2018 album. The album was originally scheduled for release in 2017, but it was moved to February 2018 due to Hurricane Maria and the subsequent disaster in Puerto Rico.

 

Miguel Zenón – Yo soy la Tradición

Puerto Rican saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón has released Yo soy la Tradición, his eleventh album. Yo soy la Tradición was commissioned by the David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. It is a set of 8 chamber compositions for alto saxophone and string quartet that include Zenón and the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet.

 

Zemog El Gallo Bueno – YoYouMeTú Volume 3

Puerto Rican-Peruvian act Zemog El Gallo Bueno (Abraham Gómez-Delgado) has combined three of his releases on YoYouMeTú Volume 3. Zemog El Gallo Bueno makes an eclectic cocktail of sounds that includes cha cha ch, salsa, guaracha, rock, funk and electronics. The album will be available November 9, 2018.

 


Dengue Dengue Dengue – Semillero

Peruvian band Dengue Dengue Dengue has a new mini-LP titled Semillero released September 2018 by On The Corner Records. The 6-track recording includes a mix of electronic music with Afro-Peruvian coastal rhythms and healing chants from the Huni Kuin people of the Amazon River.

 

Susana Seivane – Fa

Galicia in northwestern Spain is a land of pipers, traditionally male. The trailblazing Susana Seivane is one of the finest bagpipe players of her generation. She has just released her fifth album titled Fa.

 

Sondeseu – Beiralua

Also from Galicia is the grand folk orchestra called SondeSeu, an orchestra featuring folk music instruments such as zanfonas (hurdy gurdies), bagpipes, flutes, drums, fiddles and vocalists. The new album Beiralua features special guests on vocals and bagpipes.

Galician experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Mercedes Peón reconstructs tradition with a mix of electronics, rock, traditional acoustic instruments, sampled sounds, and fascinating vocal experimentation on her new album titled Deixaas.

Argentine pianist Juan Carlos Cambas has been living in Galicia since 2002. He has released “Almas en el viento / Música Argentina de raíz“. Juan Carlos Csambos has been exploring the music of countries where large numbers of Galicians emigrated to: Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Uruguay.

 

Pedro H. da Silva and Daniel Binelli – Tango Fado Duo

Argentine tango and Portuguese fado come together on Tango Fado Duo (Sorel Classics). The album features Portuguese guitar virtuoso, Pedro H. da Silva and bandoneon maestro Daniel Binelli. Together, they delve into two of the most passionate musical genres in the Hispanic and Lusophone world.

 

Stu Mindeman – Woven Threads

American keyboardist Stu Mindeman collaborates with Chilean musicians on the exquisite Woven Threads, mixing jazz, Chilean music and global rhythms.

 

Aljibe – Agua, Músicas tradicionales de la Cuenca del Tajo

 

Folk music band Aljibe, from Central Spain, explores the music of the Rio Tajo (Tagus River) basin on Agua. The band presents reconstructed traditional music from Castile and other regions. The CD is housed in a beautifully-packaged hard cover 144-page book with vintage photos and lots of details about the songs selected.

 

Vigüela – A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition

 

A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition is a double set of Castilian folk music songs performed by the rising stars of Spanish folk music, Vigüela.

 

Chano Dominguez – Chano & Colina

Chano Dominguez started as a progressive rock keyboardist with Andalusian rock band Cai and has become one of the leading flamenco jazz pianists. His most recent album is a collaboration with Spanish jazz bassist Javier Colina: Chano & Colina (Sunnyside, 2018)

 

Marta Gómez – La alegría y el canto

 

Colombian singer-songwriter Marta Gómez released La alegría y el canto (Aluna Music), an album featuring well-known musicians from South America, Cuba and Spain.

 

Chabuco – Encuentro

 

Brazilian music is the focus of Colombian singer-songwriter Chabuco’s 2018 album Encuentro. It’s a nicely-crafted encounter between the tropical music of Colombia and Brazilian music, featuring Brazilian musicians.

 

Spanglish Fly – Ay Que Boogaloo!

 

One of the hottest musical styles in New York’s Hispanic community was bugalú (boogaloo), a hybridization of Latin Caribbean music and African American influences. New York City-based band Spanglish Fly has renovated boogaloo and released Ay Que Boogaloo! (Chaco World Music) earlier this year. This time Spanglish Fly ventured beyond boogaloo, adding bolero, New Orleans funk, swing jazz, Arabic chants, and other innovations.

 

Los Texmaniacs – Cruzando Borders

Los Texmaniacs plays the border music of Tejas (Texas), Tejano music. Their latest album Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2018) brings together Spanish, Mexican and American country music roots. Guest includes Lyle Lovett and country singer Rick Treviño.

 

Orquesta Akokán – Featuring José “Pepito” Gómez (Daptone Records) is an encounter between a big band collective of Havana’s finest musicians and musicians from New York’s Latin music scene with mouthwatering mambo as the common language.

 

Various Artists – Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016

Various string instrument masters appeared live at a festival in the Czech Republic and recorded Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016 (Indies Scope, 2017). The lineup included Germán López, one of the finest timple (a small Spanish guitar from the Canary Islands) players in the Canary Islands, Spain; along with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione; Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita; and Czech mandolin virtuoso Martin Krajíček.

 

Makrú – Tu Mission

Makrú, a band from the Mission District in San Francisco combines skillfully Colombian and Caribbean music, flamenco, rock, Middle Eastern flavors and much more on – Tu Mission (Makru Music, 2018)

 

Ron Korb – World Café

Canadian flute virtuoso Ron Korb celebrates the music of Latin America and Spain on World Café, featuring Cuban and Canadian musicians with a mix of melodic jazz, tango, rumba flamenco and other influences.

 

StringShot – Blues and Latin

Paraguayan harp player Carlos Reyes collaborates with Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Badi Assad and American blues guitarist on Blues & Latin, a combination of blues, smooth jazz and South American sounds.

Books

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar by Walter Aaron Clark (University of Illinois Press, 2018) is an depth look at the leading Spanish guitar family in the United States, the Romeros. The family tradition was started by Spaniard Celedonio Romero who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s.

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Plena Libre to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage in New York and Raleigh

Just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Puerto Rican ensemble Plena Libre will be performing Sunday, September 16, 2018 at SOBs in New York City and Sunday, September 23 at La Fiesta del Pueblo in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The New York performance will be the opening concert of the World Music Institute’s 2018-2019 season. Plena Libre combines traditional Puerto Rican rhythms with modern Afro-Caribbean influences, and folkloric musical roots with contemporary compositions.

The band led by Gary Núñez uses a hard-hitting horn section, master frame drum players, and lush three-part vocal harmonies.

Plena Libre’s mosr recent albums include: Más Libre (RykoLatino, 2000), Estamos Gozando! (Times Square, 2004), Evolucion (Times Square, 2005), Plena Al Salsero (Times Square, 2008), Corazón (Gn Musica, 2012) and Amores en el Camino (Gn Musica, 2017).

Sunday, September 16, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
SOBs
204 Varick St, Manhattan
Tickets: $20

Sunday, September 23, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
La Fiesta del Pueblo
City Plaza, Fayetteville St. Raleigh, NC

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Extraordinary Plena Journey

Plena Libre – Amores en el Camino (Gn Musica, 2017)

Plena Libre, one of the great Puerto Rican bands rooted in tradition is back with another outstanding recording titled Amores en el Camino. The 12-piece powerhouse combines captivating rhythms like plena and bomba with jazz, salsa and global music elements.

The album opens with “Puerto Rico,” a song dedicated to this beautiful island that has suffered so much recently. This song signifies the Puerto Rican melting pot, where Afro-rooted traditions meet the Spanish poetic and guitar tradition in the form of the cuatro guitar, performed by guest Christian Nieves.

Amores en el Camino contains songs by band leader, bassist Gary Núñez and a new generation of plena songwriters.

On Amores en el Camino you’ll find other remarkable guests such as trumpet meaestro Luis “Perico” Ortiz and the steel drum from neighboring Trinidad and Tobago.

Amores en el Camino (Love’s Journey) received support from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña and the National Endowment for the Arts.

With Amores en el Camino, Plena Libre demonstrates that it’s a the forefront of Puerto Rican music, showcasing the best of the island’s musical traditions.

Buy Amores en el Camino

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Artist Profiles: Plena Libre

Plena Libre in 2009

Puerto Rican ensemble Plena Libre performs a unique mix of Afro-Puerto Rican plena, salsa, bomba, jazz and other Afro-Caribbean genres.

“Más Libre,”(Freer) was released in October 2000 on RykoLatino. Their eighth recording and third for RykoLatino, came a year after their critically acclaimed “Juntos y Revueltos”. Más Libre drew from an even wider sonic vocabulary – jazz, reggae, salsa, samba, songo, bomba, merengue, and cumbia.

Since their inception in 1994, Plena Libre, led by bassist, arranger, composer and producer Gary Núñez, has become a strong force on the musical scene of Puerto Rico.

Plena Libre was born out of plena jam sessions in which Gary Núñez participated. In those sessions Gary began to focus on this rhythm that had been brushed aside by the more popular salsa and merengue. He also decided to break this genre out of its folkloric mold. Since then, Plena Libre band has been expanding the borders of plena music.

“When I was 20 years old,” remembers Gary, “I met Noel Hernandez, who is now my compadre. He opened my eyes to my Puerto Rican heritage, got me into studying my history and my musical roots. I realized then that, as much as Puerto Rican musicians were known worldwide in many fields of music, the music that was truly traditional to Puerto Rico was hardly known. I wanted to change that, to devote myself to the music that is based on our African heritage, the plena and the bomba. Up to then they were relegated to holiday get-togethers and in danger of disappearing entirely. That’s how Plena Libre, or ‘free plena’ was born.”

Plena Libre has performed hundreds of shows in Puerto Rico, and has toured in the U.S., receiving extraordinary reviews for their performances and for their recordings that have generated over 15 hit songs and sold over 150,000 copies in Puerto Rico alone.

Plena Libre became the first group to hit the charts with a plena tune in almost 15 years with “El Party” from their first recording “Juntos y Revueltos” (1994) that was re-released by RykoLatino (RLCD 1005) for the international market .

In May of 1999 Plena Libre became the first plena group to perform at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum with their unique presentation “Puerto Rico Sabe a Plena”. A crowd of over 5,000 and the critics applauded Plena Libre’s performance that was later broadcast on commercial TV.

Plena Libre

Their list of accomplishments includes an award by the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico’s Legislature (1999), “Fundación Rafael Cepeda” (1997), and an award given by Loiza, the town known as the birth place of the bomba y plena, (1995).

Discography

Juntos y Revueltos I (1994)

Cógelo que Ahí Te Va (1995)

Plena Pa’Ti (1996)

De parranda (1997)

Plena Libre Mix (1998)

Plena Libre (1999)

Juntos y Revueltos II

Más Libre (RykoLatino, 2000)

Estamos Gozando! (Times Square, 2004)

Evolucion (Times Square, 2005)

Plena Al Salsero (Times Square, 2008)

Corazón (Gn Musica, 2012)

Amores en el Camino (Gn Musica, 2017)

Web Site: www.plenalibre.com

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Plena Libre Salutes the Puerto Rican Plena Masters with New CD and Tour

Plena Libre - Estamos Gozando!
Plena Libre – Estamos Gozando!
New York, USA – Puerto Rican group
Plena Libre will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a 10th record, Estamos Gozando!, slated for June 8th on Times Square Records.

Even after five centuries of colonial rule, the Puerto Rican personality is clearly defined regardless of our relationship to the US,” says Plena Libre bassist-bandleader Gary Núñez. “It is impossible to dilute the character of Puerto Rican people, because we have strong roots. And plena is an important part of it.”

Estamos Gozando! brings the story of plena full circle, paying homage to the greatest plena and bomba (another Afro-Rican genre) composers.

Represented here is music by Ángel Torruellas, one of the most prolific plena composers; Los Pleneros de Quinto Olivo, an important plena band of the ’70’s who first popularized the folkloric song Canario Blanco; César Concepción, a trumpeter who adapted plena to big band “salon” scores in the ’60’s; Rafael Cortijo, master percussionist who with singer Ismael Rivera popularized many Afro-Rican genres in the ’60’s and ’70’s; Mon Rivera, creator of a humorous delivery style and introducer of four trombones to Afro-Rican music; Rafael Cepeda, known as the ‘Patriarch of Bomba and Plena’; Toñin Romero, who wrote many hits in the ’50’s and ’60’s; and Manuel Jimenez “Canario”, the first plenero to be commercially recorded (RCA) and one of the greatest plena innovators of the ’20’s and ’30’s.

Plena emerged in the late 19th century when the repertoire of Barbados immigrants mixed with local genres, and along with the bomba, has been the mainstay of Afro-rooted music of Puerto Rico. But paradoxically, today many Puerto Rican artists are known for salsa and merengue, genres that originated in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. “By the early ’70s, the Puerto Rican music
industry came down
,” explains Nuñez. “Our rhythms took a back seat to other nations’.” Playing plena takes on a complex form of pride, affirming Puerto Rican identity within the dominance of genres that originate elsewhere.”

Núñez asserted Puerto Rican identity in the ’70s with his band Moliendo Vidrio, in line with the Nuevo Canción movements of Latin America, which rallied folk music against colonialism. After 18 years of putting the cuatro (Puerto Rican guitar) on the map, he was ready for a new challenge. “Three things kept the plena alive from the ’60s to the ’90s,” says Nuñez. “First, when people gather for parties, the plena rhythm is always there. Second, plena took center stage during labor strikes. And third, folklore groups kept the roots of plena alive.” When Núñez picked up the torch by forming Plena Libre in 1994, he sought to reinvent the genre, taking it from folkloric status—which relegated its performance to holidays and folk revivals—and turning it into a living and breathing, popular, evolving form.

Traditionally, plena uses three different-sized hand drums of Spanish origin called panderos that are pitched low-to-high and play interlocking rhythms. The seguidor is the bass drum, laying the rhythmic foundation; the mid-pitched punteador plays a complementary pattern to the seguidor. The higher pitched requinto alternates between playing yet another complementary pattern and improvising solos that respond to the sung lyrics. The güiro (scraper) and the vocalists – with leader and chorus in call-and-response style – complete the basic ensemble. Over time, the plena took on different forms – from the simple addition of the accordion or cuatro to full orchestral variations. For migrant workers who followed the harvest of different crops, the plena was their orally transmitted newspaper, informing people of the latest news, and accompanying every celebration.

To the pandero ensemble, Núñez added bass, keyboards, timbales, congas, four trombones, and some of the best plena singers (soneros) found in Puerto Rico. With a style that draws on both the traditional and the modern, and arrangements that mix in other Caribbean rhythms and sizzling dance-floor charts, Plena Libre topped the charts with one hit after another on commercial radio stations in Puerto Rico, returning plena to the center stage.

In support ofEstamos Gozando!, Plena Libre will be touring North America in July and August. Confirmed dates so far include:

Wednesday, June 30th, Kimmell Center, Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, July 7th, Montreal Jazz festival, Montreal, Quebec,
Thursday, July 8th, Sun Fest Festival, London, Ontario
Friday, July 9th, Sun Fest Festival, London, Ontario
Saturday, July 10th, Winnipeg, Canada
Thursday, July 15th, Chicago World Music Festival, IL
Friday, July 16th, Halifax Jazz Festival, Nova Scotia
Saturday, July 17th, Ritmo Y Color Festival, Toronto, Ontario
Sunday, July 18th, Puerto Rican Festival of Holyoke, MA
Friday, July 23rd, Stockton Performing Arts Center, Atlantic City, NJ
Saturday, July 31st, Celebrate Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, Aug. 7th, Puerto Rican Festival at Franklin Park, Boston, MA
Tuesday, Aug. 10th, Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA
Friday, Aug. 13th, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, New York, NY
Saturday, Aug.14th, Musikfest – Plaza Tropical, Bethlehem, PA
Sunday, Aug. 15th, Schenectady (Albany), NY

Buy Estamos Gozando!

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