Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boricua Roots Music - Yerbabuena

(Property of Yerbabuena, Inc)

Back in 06', Tato Torres and Bryan Vargas (producer) put out an album entitled, "Boricua Roots Music". I wasn't in NY at the time, and I honestly forgot how I got my hands on the CD (maybe on Ebay?), but I did and gladly so. For me, this was a first in showcasing the talents of a new breed of NY percussionist, as cats like Nicky Laboy, Obanilu Allende, Jorge Vazquez made up the roster. Whether they played a seis corrido, holandes, plena, sica, swung and it demanded attention. If your like me, buying a cd in a way is like buying into the reputation of the individuals listed on the liner notes, and since I saw names I was familiar with (i.e. Nicky, Oba, Jorge, Bryan V, Tato, Raquel Z Rivera), I knew this was going to be a project that was worth the price of admission.

Bomba y Plena has had a long history of development in NYC. Notable groups and players such as Heny Alvarez, Aurora Florez and Yeyito (Amigos de la Plena), Victor Moñtanez y Los Pleneros de la 110, Sammy and Nelly Tanco, and of course Chema and his crew have all kept the artform alive and kickin' since the late 60's, 70's, also Willie did mention to not forget to put down Jovan Romero, (please forgive if I missed anyone). Nowadays groups like Alma Moyo, Bambula, Zon del Barrio, LP21, Yaya, and Yerbabuena are continuing to not only carry the torch, but blaze new paths in keeping this tradition a "living tradition" and not just a remnant of the past.

So all that to say, that Yerbabuena's offering, "Boricua Roots Music" is as Tato says,

"Like nothing you've ever heard before, and yet like everything that leads to a contemporary Puerto Rican musical expression... like our parents record collection on our turntables... "

I especially like "Lola/No Me Cuques", as it goes from an energetic "seis corrido" to a equally energetic, yet different "holandes".

More from Yerbabuena's Myspace site:

YERBABUENA (one word) is a group of individuals who come together to play the music that they love under the musical direction of singer-composer-musician Tato Torres. It is composed of musicians, singers and dancers from the New York City area, who share an intense passion for the musical traditions of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The last thing that will come to your mind while at a YERBABUENA event is that you're watching a show, it feels more like a cross between a jam in the park, a spiritual ceremony and a family reunion. They convey wholeness and harmony, and their music is moving beyond belief. The music they play is, by nature, participatory. Whether bomba, plena or música jíbara, it's all interactive. And being witness to their vibrant sounds and the deep joy that making music together gives them, just leaves the audience no choice but to join in the chorus or dance for the drums. After a YERBABUENA session, you'll be uplifted, tired and happy.

The concept of YERBABUENA developed during the summer of 1999 at the renowned Rincón Criollo Cultural Center (aka "La Casita de Chema") in the heart of the South Bronx, and has been growing since. It developed out of the need for cultural expression, redefinition and re-appropriation of the Puerto Rican musical heritage by a new generation of Boricuas. For a long time, Puerto Rican musical traditions have been constricted by commercial culture and generally limited to holidays and "folkloric" presentations.YERBABUENA is an important part of the struggle to develop and promote identity through living Puerto Rican musical traditions such as bomba, plena and música jíbara.

While well-recognized Boricuas like Willie Colón, Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin are known worldwide for their "Latin" flavor, groups like Plena Libre, Los Pleneros de la 21, Viento de Agua, and now YERBABUENA, have been changing the way people listen to traditional Puerto Rican music in New York City and beyond. YERBABUENA reclaims the Puerto Rican music often branded as "folkloric," refusing to accept its packaging as frozen-in-time museum pieces, only vaguely connected to contemporary culture. Instead, they make gorgeous music that incorporates past and present. YERBABUENA taps right into the core of who Boricuas are as a People.

Boricua Roots Music
Boricua Roots Music is a musical movement in which Boricua musicians have combined and re-combined elements of traditional and/or folkloric music as contemporary musical expressions. This style of modern music, which reaches back to the roots of Boricua (Puerto Rican) tradition has come to be called "roots music" or "música de raíz" in Spanish. The movement is also often referred to simply as "roots" or "raíces" in Spanish.

So if you want to buy the CD and are in the NYC area, you can go to:

El Barrio Music Center1870 Lexington Ave. (bet. 115 & 116 Sts.),El Barrio, NYC

Casa Amadeo Record Shop786 Prospect Ave.,The Bronx, NYC

If not, you can get it through their myspace site.

Now, I can't wait till Alma Moyo, puts out their CD, which is supposedly in the making from what I hear...

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