|Baile / Dance is a fabulous CD, beautiful, exuberant and complex. It combines different styles of music from the various regions of Columbia the Andes, the eastern plains, the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast with jazz and other influences to create an intoxicating new sound. It is sophisticated but loses nothing of the honesty of emotion, the tenderness or the sheer joy of the folk styles. It is bold, modern and open to the world. It may well become a classic of an emerging genre being referred to as Nueva Columbia.
On Baile / Dance, the eleven-member Folklore Urbano led by composer, arranger and pianist Pablo Mayor is joined by no less than eleven guest musicians. The level of musicianship is high throughout. The range of instrumentation, from the brawny low of the baritone to the pure high flute, the boldness of brass and the delicate timbre of traditional instruments such as the gaita (a wooden flute) and the marimba chonta are used to excellent effect creating a CD of rich textures and layered sounds, of big band blast and natural beauty. You can sit and revel in that richness, or you can get up and move to it.
The first tune, Te olvidé, is a great example of the eclectic nature of the CD. Upbeat, it starts out very folkloric with great rhythm, Columbian drums and percussion, vocal harmonies and brass. After a few minutes, the piano and trumpet take us into some novel jazz territory, Columbian jazz, very hot. A switch of rhythm and the traditional drums regain prominence bridging into a song of Columbias Carnaval de Barranquilla. All but the traditional instruments drop out and the piece concludes with drums, percussion, hand clapping and voice.
The lyrics are all included in the accompanying booklet. They are in Spanish and there is a summary of the lyrics in English for each song. I love the images provoked by Cumbia Sobre el Mar. It starts out lovely and dreamy, the singer remembers falling asleep on the beach, but by the time the moon and the stars are dancing the cumbia over the waves of the sea, you may be too.
The joyous La Pringamosa starts out very Andean with gaita and marimba but big band sounds soon enter. The combination of sounds, the change of metre and tempo, and the gallop to the final harmonic blast are a must hear. El Alboroto also features marimba among other instruments such as baritone sax. There are two versions of the instrumental "Chalupa NY", a 'dance' version and a 'jazz' version, interesting to compare.
El Viejo Jose brings the CD to a perfect ending. It is credited to Ronald Polo but, played solely on traditional instruments, it sounds ancient primal and beautiful. A generous thirteen tracks; 65 minutes and 25 seconds of musical and rhythmic bliss, thats Pablo Mayor and Folklore Urbanos Baile / Dance.
reviewed by Joyce Corbett February 2007
Pablo Mayor composer, arranger, pianist, guacharaca and snare
Frank Basile baritone saxophone
Sergio Borrero percussion maracas, llamador drum
Scott Harrell trumpet
Dave Hertzberg baby bass
Rafi Malkiel euphonium (bombardino)
Chris Michael drum set
Ronald Polo vocals (lead and background), gaita, tambora drum, bombo golpeador
Anna Povich de Mayor flute, alto flute
Rob Wilkerson alto saxophone
El Yoky alegre drum, tambora drum
Ronnie Baró background vocals
Ramón Benitez euphonium (bombardino)
Joaquin Marino Labrada Cabal bombo arrullador, guasá
Sebastian Cruz tiple
Gaulajo marimba de chonta, cununo, guasá
Christopher Karlic baritone saxophone
Jairo Moreno electric bass
Antonio Luis Orta soprano/alto saxophone
Carlos Guiró caja vallenata, guacharaca, congas, alegre drum
Ernesto Simpson drum set
Eddy Zervigon 5 key wooden flute