Peña: Afro Peruvian Music


This fine blending of African and Peruvian music is a wonder to behold.  It is so unique, yet still feels quite natural, almost organic.  The CD package is carefully assembled into a wood grain box and includes a DVD for the visual element. It is almost as if Ottmar Liebert sat in with the Gypsy Kings with the perfect accompaniment of African percussionists.

Peña – El Mayoral

In April of 2010, Cory Wong and Eric Foss of Secret Stash Records traveled to Lima, Peru with a translator and assembled Peña, an Afro-Peruvian ensemble featuring a handful of the best musicians within the genre.  The group was a revolving door of sorts that included over a dozen players ranging in age from 24 to 65.  In seven days they recorded over 50 tracks.  With no access to a conventional recording studio they improvised by tracking in classrooms, living rooms, balconies, offices, and even on the stoop of a hostel.  The sessions were fast, free spirited, and generally consisted of one or two takes per track.  The result is an authentic display of one of the world’s most unique, unexplored and underrated musical styles.

For most people, the question still remains, “what is Afro-Peruvian music?”  In the mid 1500s Spanish conquistadors brought African slaves with them to Peru.  One of the many restrictions placed on the slaves was that they were not allowed to own or play instruments.  In time they began using fruit boxes and dresser drawers as drums.  This innovation became formally known as the cajón (large box) and it was the central component in fusing African rhythms with Spanish music.  After slavery was abolished in Peru (1856), Afro-Peruvian culture slowly withered away.  By the mid 1900s the music (along with other parts of the culture) had almost completely vanished.  In the 1960s, a small handful of black Peruvians in Chincha (3 hours south of Lima) started a revival of sorts.  It quickly grew and before long the people of Peru were rediscovering this lost music.  Today Lima is the center of Afro-Peruvian music, but people of all colors living in coastal Peru celebrate this music and culture.

~ by castleqwayr on October 19, 2010.

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