New CD series rescues traditional sounds and songs

25 de abril de 2013 - 09:57

Segundo Nazareno, known better as San Lorenzo or Don Naza, arrives slowly but steadily at the top of the stairs. The nonagenarian singer-songwriter of “bambucos,” “chigualos” and “arrullos” has given new meaning to the sounds of the marimba, the bombo and the decimas. The vocal ability of this representative of the Afro-Ecuadorian culture evokes his ancestors with each lyric of his songs. Esmeraldas’ music in contained by the high and low notes of his melodies.

Soon all six of the members of this musical project arrive behind Don Naza. They are the Taitas and the Mamas. "De Taitas y de Mamas" (Quichua words for “grandfathers” and “grandmothers”) is the name of a six-CD series produced by the Ecuadorian government to rescue, record and preserve specific traditional musical styles and singers.  

Producers Ivis Flies and Mariana Pizarro crisscrossed Ecuador to find and record these interpreters of traditional but almost extinct Ecuadorian music. Their investigation took eight years, and culminates in a six CD series that will be distributed with the support of Ecuador Ministry of Cultural Heritage and sold alongside daily newspapers like El Telegrafo as of May 1.

Their effort has rescued Don Naza, Las Tres Marías, Julián Tucumbi, Misqui Chullumbo, Mariano Palacios and Papá Roncón from anonymity and made them  icons of the national music scene. The Ministry of Health is also involved, making sure these “taitas” and “mamas” of Ecuadorian culture enjoy the best health care, for free, for the rest of their lives.

The Three Marías, from Ecuador’s Chota valley, show up, with linked arms and big smiles. Papá Roncón is there, clothed in bright, warm colours. His music is also inherited from Africa, and expresses a heavy weight of memory and knowledge. Carlos Alvarado, who performs as Mishqui Chullumbo, says his music is about the magic of the forest in Porotayacu, on the edge of the Napo river in the Amazon jungle.

Julián Tucumbi and his 24-member band consisting of members of his family brings the sounds of the high Andes to the project. Julián can play 22 instruments, and says music has been his life since he was seven years old, and his only way to share his Andean stories and traditions.

And, to complete the six, Mariano Palacios from the warm Manabí coast lets his melancholic tunes roll off the strings of his guitar. He plays amorfinos, guarachas and corridos, part of a genre unique to Ecuador’s coast.

The Taitas and Mamas played to a sold out crowd in Quito last night to launch the six disc series and a companion book and photo exhibit. For more information, their is a Facebook page, and you can find some of their recordings on this Soundcloud profile. A documentary film is also in the works.

Thirty percent of the profits from the sales of the CDs will go to the artists. The discs will sell for $2.50 with the purchase of a Telegrafo newspaper, starting Wednesday May 1 and every Wednesday for six weeks.

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