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Greater Latin America    Various Artists    World Music at Global Rhythm - The Destination for World Music
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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

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Various Artists
Arriba Suena Marimba
Smithsonian Folkways 40514

By Ernest Barteldes

Published March 16, 2007

From: Colombia

On this album, the cultural traditions of Colombia's Afro-Latino community, formed mostly by the descendants of former slaves, are celebrated in songs that have nothing to do with salsa or meringue. The central sound here is the Afro-Pacific marimba, a rustic instrument made from wooden keys suspended over bamboo resonators, with backing from drums and a maraca-like instrument called the guasá. Though it’s clearly influenced by the players’ African ancestry, there is also a very obvious Roman Catholic tinge to this music, as the songs' lyrics (sung by a choir of women) very often have religion or temptation as major themes, as can be heard in “Lo que Me Trajo El Niño Dios” (What the Christ Child Brought Me), “Vamos Adorar a Antonio” (Let's Worship St. Anthony) or “Salomé.” Definitely not for the casual listener, this record documents a tradition to which few Anglo listeners have likely ever been exposed.

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