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Spanish language music: Cumbia


Cumbia is a type of Colombian folk music and dance that blends the traditions of three cultures that settled in the region: the indigenous peoples, Spanish-Moorish peoples, and African slaves. In its purest form, cumbia is played on African drums and Native American flutes, but the accordion eventually became the preferred main instrument. The organ and harp have also been used. In addition, the place of origin of the cumbia on Colombia's north Atlantic coast opened it to influences from the Caribbean. It is from here presumably whence the cumbia derives its single steady backbeat. "The 90's Cumbia" is a modern variation on traditional cumbia. It is glamorous and theatrical and makes extensive use of synthesizers and keyboards. Cumbia is popular in South America, Central America, and Mexico.


Bacilos (Miami, USA / Colombia, Brazil, Puerto Rico)
CD Caraluna [2002] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Pop/rock/tropical fusionists Bacilos elevate their game here, employing classy violins, gorgeous harmonies, and easy-to-hum rhythms. The songs are tighter, more thoughtful, and, ultimately, more radio friendly. The winsome 11-track set kicks off with the first single "Mi Primer Millon," a tongue-in-cheek tale about breaking into the big time. The horn-fueled tropical tune begs for dance-floor action. The hopeful title track keeps up the seductive dance grooves fusing elements of rock and tropical flavors that recall bachata master Juan Luis Guerra. But beyond party tunes, Bacilos also take time for reflective tunes. "Solo un Segundo," which soars with its almost rap-like precision lyrics and lovely harmonies, takes on the memories that came in a second, but last a lifetime. Taking page from the Beatles' pop melodies book, "Nadas Special" combines relaxed rhythms and catchy harmonies while singing about the end of the world. Superbly talented and rapidly maturing, and now winning Grammys, Bacilos is a player to watch. -- Review by Ramiro Burr

CD Grandes Exitos [2006] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Bacilos [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Sin verguenza [2004] • LISTENBUY CD
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Juanes (Colombia)
CD Un día normal [2002] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes's second solo album is many things: poetic, lyrical, heartfelt, and intelligent. Ordinary, however, would not be among the list of adjectives. The humble title, Un Día Normal, is more a description of the album's overall themes. It's a slicker and catchier collection than Juanes's politically minded 2000 album Fijate Bien, which earned seven Latin Grammy nominations and tons of critical attention. Un Día Normal finds the former member of rock outfit Ekhymosis contemplating an array of inner emotions--primarily life, love, and loss--all anchored by Gustavo Santaolalla's tight, precise production work. "La Unica" is a sweet and tuneful love letter, while "Mala Gente" finds Juanes damning a cruel lover to hell--literally. "A Dios le Pido" is an intoxicating swirl of cumbia, reggae, and folk rhythms, but it's the bittersweet duet "Fotografia" that truly soars. Juanes's unassuming vocal style is the perfect complement to Canadian songbird Nelly Furtado's lilting soprano, creating a shining moment among an already impressive collection of gems. -- Review by Joey Guerra

CD Mi sangre [2004] • LISTEN BUY CD | CD Fijate bien [2000] • LISTENBUY CD
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Los Angeles Azules (Mexico):
CD Historia musical [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Alas al mundo [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Frente a frente: Los rescatadores de la cumbia [2001] • LISTENBUY CD
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Los Bukis (Mexico)
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Lisandro Meza (Colombia)
CD Amor lindo [1998] • LISTEN BUY CD | CD Made in Colombia [2002] • LISTENBUY CD | CD El sabanero mayor [1995] • LISTENBUY CD
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Banda Ráfaga (Argentina)
CD Todavía hay amor [1999] • LISTEN BUY CD
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Antonio Ríos (Argentina)
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Carlos Vives (Colombia)
CD El Rock de mi pueblo [2004] • LISTENBUY CD REVIEW: Rock, vallaneto, cumbia, ska, zydeco, and more fuel Colombian singer/songwriter Carlos Vives's latest party, aptly titled Rock de mi Pueblo. From the festive opening track "Como Tu," Vives bounces nonstop among rhythms, music styles, and instruments to keep the celebration running red-hot. On "La Maravilla," Vives sings about a woman who knows how to enjoy life while his band fuses cumbia dance grooves. Heavy percussions drive "Gallito de Caramelo," a rocking tune about willing to go anywhere to wait for the right person. Vives slows the pace on the melancholy ballad "Voy A Olvidarme de mi," with its where-are-you-now lament. While mixing folk vallenato with rock is his specialty, this collection is Vives's most energetic, fusing blues-rock sentiment, more electric guitars and tribal fever for an instant winner. -- Review by Ramiro Burr

CD El amor de mi tierra [1999] • LISTENBUY CD
REVIEW: Colombian singer Carlos Vives continues his exploration of the sounds of his homeland on El Amor de Mi Tierra, a lush collection that also includes rumba, cumbia, and Caribbean rhythms anchored by an earthy, folksy flavor. Vives, a former television actor, polishes it with a glowing pop sheen, thanks to solid production from Latin-music mogul Emilio Estefan. The pair work wonderfully together on tracks such as "Tu Amor Eterno," "El Cante," "La Receta," and especially "Fruta Fresca," a desperately romantic moment that has become Vives's biggest radio hit. Vocally, Vives keeps his delivery suitably grounded, working within the infectious rhythms of the music instead of fighting against it or struggling to remain on top. It makes for a consistently engaging, refreshingly uncomplicated musical experience. -- Review by Joey Guerra

CD Clasicos de la provincia [2000] • LISTEN
BUY CD | CD Déjame entrar [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD 20 de coleccion [1994] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Déjame entrar [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Tierra del olvido [2000] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Tengo Fé [1997] • LISTENBUY CD
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