Posts Tagged ‘Susana Baca’

the black pacific

October 18, 2009
(photo courtesy of Times Square Records)

Perú Negro (photo courtesy of Times Square Records)

Afro-Peruvian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, Pan-African…there don’t seem to be any limit to the ways that Africa has become hyphenated over the last few centuries of cultural blending and development.

UVM music professor Alex Stewart went a long way to sort it all out in last night’s pre-concert talk at Burlington’s Amy Tarrant Gallery.

The evening’s concert featured Afro-Peruvian singer/goddess Eva Ayllón, and with a night of traditional valses, festejo, and landó ahead a bit of explanation greatly helped in understanding how all these related but distinct musical styles came together.

A few illuminating stats opened the discussion, like the fact that half of Lima’s population was black in the year 1593. By the year 1940 only 0.47% of the population was black, as intermarriage had become common.

It wasn’t really until the mid-1950s with increased international civil rights awareness that Black Pacific* culture was revitalized and recognized for its uniqueness, thanks largely to the efforts of Jose Duran’s Pancho Fierro Dance Company, and brother/sister musicians Nicomedes and Victoria Santa Cruz. The old dances, the traditions and musical language were revisited through the recollections of the elders, and restored with a new infusion of sounds and rhythms.

I didn’t get to the concert itself, but Stewart’s compelling pre-show discussion sent me on a late-night dig through my archive to hear some of the sounds he had mentioned. From my own collection, a few recommendations: Coba Coba, a new recording from the contemporary Afro-funk band Novalima; Lima’s own roots folk band Perú Negro; singer/guitarist Chabuca Grande; singer Susana Baca; and Eva Ayllón (who is both a force of nature AND pop culture).

For further reading: Paul Gilroy’s 1993 book, The Black Atlantic & this article about Peruvian folk styles.

* (Stewart generally identifies the “black Pacific” culture with Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Guerrero and Oaxaca regions of Mexico)

take five: latina jazz

July 25, 2009

ClaudiaAcunaHeard on NPR this morning, the latest in the ‘Take Five’ series (5 recordings recommended by the music staff, usually on a theme). Today’s feature: Latina jazz singers. I was familiar with three of the five (Claudia Acuna, Susana Baca and Martirio) and happy to learn about the other two (Venissa Santi and Magos Herrera). Claudia and Susana in particular are favorites, with strong, sweet voices and a great gift for phrasing.

I’ve always found the best way to learn about new music is through friends. So let’s do that. I’m going to borrow NPR’s idea and call the occasional series here “Trading Fours”. Leave a comment here and send me your favorite four recommendations on a theme – any musical genre – and a little note about why you picked them. Write as much or as little as you want, but I can tell you I will be a lot less likely to post your music choices if they don’t come with any explanation.

No names necessary unless you want to leave that too, keep it anonymous if you want. Pick a theme, send me your four faves (with the reason why) and I’ll find the cover art and do the rest. The point is to share your particular passion or expertise and let the rest of us in on some tunes we might not otherwise know about.

I’ll it started with a set of four I’ll call “Things I’ve been listening to this week”, give me a little bit to put it together and check back here in a bit for the results. And be thinking about yours.

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