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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO BOLIVA

By Bruce Miller
Published September 23, 2005

World Music Network

Like Andean Peru and its largely Quechua-speaking indigenous population, Bolivia’s traditional music tends to conjure images of pan-pipe blowing, charango-strumming ensembles wearing ornamented ponchos. And while there is many a conjunto folklorico to be found, that’s only part of the picture. Bolivia’s tropical Eastern section is home to the taquirari, a mid-tempo blend of hand percussion, Andean mandolins and guitars. Also, along the Argentine and Chilean borders, there is the cueca, a popular courtship dance. In typical Rough Guide fashion then, this collection is a smorgasbord of styles, from Esther Marisol’s taquirari to the traditional tunes of Cochabamba’s highlands. However, it’s Luis Rico’s mutating funeral for La Paz’s rank Choqueyapu River, complete with “caporal” (slave-driver parodying) rhythms, that is the true gem of the bunch. Midway through the song’s six minutes, the string band propulsion is replaced by the type of brass ensemble heard in Bolivian and Peruvian carnivals. Elsewhere, there is an all-female conjunto as well as the child-like sing-song of Luzmila Carpio, a woman from Qala Qala, a village so high and remote the Spanish never came, and a place still safe from the ravages of global television!