Yuri Juárez has been exploring music for the guitar in what he calls “música criolla”, broadly, the Afro-Peruvian cultural topography. Following his epic guitar album Guitar Sapiens Mr Juárez has teamed up with another Peruvian, the percussionist, Jhair Sala who has gained considerable renown with the Pedrito Martínez Group although he is just as well-known for fronting his own groups recently. With this duo – sometimes performing here in extended configurations – Mr Juárez and Mr Sala dig deep into the music from their favourite patch of earth.
This is a rhythm-driven work comprising traditional music that is considerably refreshed by two experimental musicians who have been known to see far beyond the nationalistic horizons that performers of folk music often set themselves. Both guitarist and percussionist have been known to be adept at making old things new thanks, in part, to their close association with and study of Jazz, after moving to New York.
Thus in this repertoire the musicians interact with the fast and slow tempi of the traditional material breathing fresh life into all of it, illustrating that they are capable of literally running amok in outbursts of eloquence and effervescence as they – together with other improvising musicians as bassist Daymar Calvario, violinist Alí Bello, percussionists Pepe Santa Cruz and Juan Carlos Fuentes, vocalist Mariela Valencia and the inimitable Afro-Peruvian musical icon, Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón – dance their way through it.
The sombre lyricism of the opening valse “Celeste” soon gives way to vivid the polka “Promesa”. The romp into the backwaters of Peru continues as the shifting relationship between guitarist and percussionist, together with their contrabassist Mr Calvario, Mr Santa Cruz on tumbadora and violinist Mr Bello launch into the ebullient festejo, “No me cumbén”. Vivid tone colours and subtle textures emerge as the musicians ebb and flow through the valses and other traditional material as they are joined in by various other musicians.
Meanwhile the music swells with joyfulness and (sometimes) meditative moods and emotions. Melody, harmony and rhythms often stack up immensely; at other times they thin to the most diaphanous textures, but always they return to the same – traditional – point only to discover that the traditional viewpoint has changed; refreshed by the unique musical perspective of these fine musicians.
Track list – 1: Celeste; 2: El Parisién; 3: Promesa; 4: No me cumbén; 5: Burlona; 6: Idolatría; 7: Anhelos; 8: Anita; 9: Bandida; 10: Landó del exilio; 11: Morenos pintan a Cristo; 12: Celeste
Personnel – Yuri Juárez: guitars and voice (1); Jhair Sala: cajón, washboard (3, 7), campana y güira(4) and handclaps (11); Daymar Calvario: contrabass (3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11); Alí Bello: violin (4); Pepe Santa Cruz: tumbadoras (4); Mariela Valencia: lead voice (5, 11); Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón: second voice, guapeo and cucharas (5, 11); Juan Carlos Fuentes: castanets (9)
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 47:59