Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release ¡Arriba Suena Marimba!: Currulao Marimba Music from Colombia by Grupo Naidy on February 21. A newly recorded album by the foremost exemplars of the marimba tradition, '¡Arriba Suena Marimba!' focuses on music from Colombia's Pacific region, which represents the only place in the Americas where a black marimba tradition has continued.
The African-style marimba, played on this recording, includes up to 24 keys and is played by two musicians at a time. Hung from the ceilings of "marimba houses" along the rivers, the instrument is tuned to local tunings, distinct from the Western scale. Other instruments on '¡Arriba Suena Marimba!' include the bombos (bass drum), cununos (wooden drums) and guasa (bamboo tube filled with seeds). Grupo Naidy plays genres such as currulao, juga, bunde, alabao, and canto de boga, all polyrhythmic and vibrant.
Led by Irlando "Maky" López, Grupo Naidy has received numerous honors, including a Lincoln Center performance in 2003. The group formed in 2000, quickly winning the Petronio Álvarez Festival. '¡Arriba Suena Marimba!' also features Grupo Naidy's marimba virtuoso Budilio Cauma Rentería, who was proficient enough by the time he was eleven that he stood on a bench to play his father's marimba.
This recording will be released with a note of sadness. The group's junior members, brothers Alex Cuama Valencia and Jiminson Cuama Valencia, who are featured on the album, were shot and killed in August 2004 in Buenaventura.