(Secret Stash Records)
Ladies and gentlemen, we
present: Afro-Peruvian music.
Early in 2010 Cory Wong and Eric
Foss of the upstart Secret Stash Records in Minneapolis travelled to Peru and
spent several days in Lima recording (and recording with) acts from Peru’s
culturally rich and diverse Afro-Peruvian music scene. Their efforts produced
50 tracks by a wide variety of locals, 17 of which are collected under the
moniker of Peña on this CD/DVD collection.
The tradition of Afro-Peruvian
music dates back centuries and is inexorably linked to slavery, deprivation and
the innovations it took to make music when music making had been banned. The
key instruments are the acoustic guitar, a little bass and a signature
instrument known as the cajon, or “large box,” a wooden percussion instrument
that is sat on on played bare-handed. The result sounds quite a bit like a
low-key, Peruvian version of Brazilian samba or a South American take on
flamenco, with shades of Portuguese fado, but with a deliberate, languorous,
unhurried quality totally unique to itself. This is front porch and stoop
music, music for the beach and music for a cafe all rolled together.
Traveling with a portable
recording set up, and recording on the fly in living rooms, classrooms,
offices, auditoriums and even on the stoop of the hostel they were staying in,
the recordings have a beautiful, clear, spontaneous quality. Cory Wong
proves to be quite an adept Afro-Peruvian guitar player, and is featured on
most tracks. Locals include cajon/percussion players Chico Chavez, Hugo
Alcazar, Jorge “Coqui” Perez-Albela and a guy simply called Larry, bass player
Jorge Roeder and guitar players Javier Choy, Eric Kurimski and Andres Prado.
Vocalists Sofia Rei Koutsovitis, Paloma Godoy and Victor Leon are featured on a
few tracks, although more than half of the numbers on Peña are
Special note must be paid to
the packaging, a beautiful, sleek, simple wooden-looking box that opens and
closes with a pleasing soft touch. The separate DVD details the time spent in Lima looking for and
recording the musicians from the local Afro-Peruvian community, record scouting
and hanging out, and finishes with footage from a Peña, an evening of music,
food and dance in a famous local night spot.
DOWNLOAND: “El Carmen,”
“Chincha,” “Alma Corazon Y Vida,” “Tarumbero,” CARL HANNI