Make China Great Again : )

The Year of China
 Traditional Chinese Music recorded by 
Deben Bhattacharya


Silk Stringed Instruments
01. Fishing Music
02. Walking Along a Street
03. Purple Bamboo

Music From The Silk Route
04. Arduxi. Uighur Dance Music
05. Traditional Folk Song on Love from Turpan
06. Lailin Gul. Uighur Folk Song
07. Bahar de Bulbul. the Nightingale in Spring
08. Uighur Song About Nomadic Life

Music And Dance Of The Children Of China
09. Dance Music
10. Peacocks Playing in the Water
11. Laughing Buddha

Music And Dance Of The Minority Communities
12. Dance by Eight San-yi Minority Couples
13. Kon-di (flute) of the Miao Minority People

The Chinese Opera
14. Yan Dang Shan




 During 1983 and 1984, I had the privilege of traveling extensively through China, first from Northeast to Southeast and then from Northwest to Southwest.  Each year, beginning with scouting and research and then accompanied by the film crew, I spent approximately five months, recording, filming and photographing the varied world of the performing arts of China. Our work extended from instrumental music to the Chinese Opera, to story-telling with instrumental accompa­niment in the countryside and the music of the minority communities including that of  the Uighurs of the Silk Route.  Our research and recor­ding also included  musical training and performance by children.The history of the performing arts of China which legitimately claim 4000 years of background, has been con­cerned with three clearly defined types of expression: ceremonial music, opera and folk music.  Ceremonial music was always an essential feature of the religious rites in the temples and of the secular rituals at Royal courts.  Although developed under court patronage, the second most popular type of the performing arts has usually been asso­ciated with the theatre because of its appeal to the general public. The orchestral music and the presen­tation of the Chinese opera today belong to this category. The traditional folk music of the Chinese villages, as else­where in the world, represents the local cultural and linguistic habits of the region and is simple and rhythmic, unlike the disciplined, mathematically organised music that developed under the patronage of the court and the temples.Chinese traditional music follows a pentatonic scale, although at about 600 BC two semitones were added to the original five tonal steps.  Primarily melodic in its form, Chinese music is closely connected to the speech-tone which guide the art of melody. During the long history of Chinese music, some rulers established orchestras with special characteristics as, for example, an all-women orchestra. In the long rule of the Chou dynasty, 1122 to 256 BC, there was a Minister of Music respon­sible for supplying highly cultivated ceremonial music during secular rituals at the imperial court. The I-ching, written before the age of Confucius, the great sage who lived during the 6th century BC, tells us that “There is nothing better than music in reforming people’s manners and customs.”  The emperors and rulers in China endorsed this wisdom. Music was given an important place in the royal courts and in the affairs of the State. It was treated as an integral part of the educational system, in theology as well as in secular studies.  This tradition is kept alive and fully utilised for the cause of Communism in China today.

- Deben Bhattacharya


Deben Bhattacharya (1921–2001) was a Bengali radio producer, record producer, ethno musicologist, anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, photographer, translator, poet, writer, broadcaster, lecturer, and folk music consultant. He produced over 100 records, 23 films and published more than a dozen books in his lifetime and much of his work was carried out under the auspices of UNESCO


¡Vive La France!

Luc Le Masne
Un Français a Veracruz
Marimba Mexicain: Vincent Limouzin


01. El Canto Del Papaloapan - 4:13
02. Loteria Y Amor - 4:12
03. Eso Es! - 2:21
04. Un Francais A Veracruz - 3:02
05. Manos De Cangrejo - 4:13
06. Promesa - 5:22
07. Vuelve A La Vida - 3:02
08. Torito - 2:40
09. Luz De Veracruz - 5:55
10. Gaviota Enamorada del Sol - 3:42



Marimba 2 features ‘Mexican’ compositions by Luc Le Masne interpreted by Vincent Limouzin, vibraphonist with the Orchestre National de Jazz who has also created a show on “The Xylophones of the World”.

I wanted to express my acknowledgement to my friends by writing these simple, festive or nostalgic melodies aiming to give my personal rendition of the danzón, the bolero, and the ‘Jarocha’ waltz while remaining very close to the universe of the Veracruz harbour. Some of these melodies have already been adopted by local musicians.” (Luc Le Masne)

Luc Le Masne a vécu plusieurs années à Veracruz et y a noué de solides amitiés avec les virtuoses du marimba. C'est donc tout naturellement qu'il a souhaité leur exprimer sa reconnaissance, en écrivant ces mélodies simples, festives ou nostalgiques. Certaines de ces musiques sont déjà reprises par les musiciens locaux. Elles sont ici interprétées par Vincent Limouzin, vibraphoniste de l'Orchestre National de Jazz, créateur du spectacle « Les Xylophones du monde ».


 Nous avons seulement un monde...



El Tonto y El Muro

El Columpio Del Diablo
Corridos Y Tragedias
De La Junta De Los Rios


01. Corrido De Kiansis – Los Palomares De Ojinaga
02. Jacinto Trevino – Los Palomares De Ojinaga
03. La Tumba De Villa – Los Palomares Del Bravo
04. Los Traficantes Del Bravo – Los Palomares Del Bravo
05. La Tragedia De Ojinaga – Los Tres Amigos
06. Corrido De Fermin Arevalo – Los Suspiros De Ojinaga
07. La Muerte De Fermin Arevalos – Los Jilgueros Del Arroyo
08. El Corrido De Israel Y Guadalupe – Los Luceros De Ojinaga
09. Corrido De Martin El Shorty Lopez – Los Tres Amigos De Isidro Ruiz
10. El Corrido De El Pira Ramirez – Melquiades/Tomas Sevilla/Mariachi Frontera
11. El Zorro De Ojinaga – Los Suspiros De Ojinaga
12. Corrido De Pablo Acosta – Los Palomares Del Bravo
13. El Corrido De Amado Carrillo Fuentes – Tomas Sevilla/Melquiades Sevilla
14. El Arresto De Los Sanchez – Los Jinettes De Odessa
15. El Corrido De Gracielo Gardea – Mariachi Frontera
16. El Corrido De El Kilo – Los Suspiros De Ojinaga
17. El Leon De Le Sierra – Los Palomares De Ojinaga
18. Ejido De Palomas – Carlos Olivas
19. El Corrido De Esequiel Hernandez – Santiago Jimenez Jr./Victor Mermea/Jose Moreno/Amado Banda/Mar…




Where the Río Grande and the Río Conchos join, rests a remote oasis in a mountainous desert wilderness of awesome austerity. There the cities of Ojinaga, Chihuahua and the town of Presidio, Texas form the cultural and economic centers of La Junta de los Ríos. As is well-documented in the film The Devil’s Swing (Documentary Arts Inc. of Dallas, Tx.), this isolation has helped to preserve not only many customs, traditional rituals, and beliefs but also a ballad tradition of uniquely local focus and origin, a sampling of which can be heard on this CD. Although a few of these corridos (narrative ballads) are also seen in the film, this CD is a complimentary audio document and not the usual “soundtrack.” The corridos were recorded mainly on location and memorialize themes such as 19th century cattle drives, border conflicts between Anglos and Mexicans, heroes of the Mexican Revolution, hardships endured by day laborers, and of course the recent tragedies which have resulted from trafficking. Smuggling back and forth across the Mexican-US border used to involve wax, cloth, liquor, guns and ammunition but since the end of prohibition in the early 1930s, the focus has been almost exclusively on drugs declared illegal in the United States. To the local population, which sees Anglo society as rich, insatiable consumers of all kinds of drugs, these traffickers often become Robin Hood like heroes.

 The devil has mounted a swing between the mountains above La Junta de los Rios from which he can affect everything. Where the Rio Concho collides with the Rio Grande, the resulting flood plain defines an area of the border where traditional divisions between God and the devil, between bandit and hero, between the United States and Mexico, no longer apply. The seemingly unrelated worlds of sacred rituals, drug lords and the memories of Pancho Villa combine with the words, songs, prayers, and chants of the people who live in this remarkable place and are indelible in the minds of those who have moved away.

 When oral tradition quickly slipped away in the 20th century, the art of ballad writing seemed to go with it. Luckily, in isolated spots like La Junta de los Ríos, corridos, or narrative ballads, have continued to thrive. These ballads preserve Texas-Mexican border culture dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, documenting everything from cattle drives to modern day drug lords. Vibrant accordion and bright singing enlivens much of The Devil’s Swing. Los Palomares De Ojinaga enlists vivid harmony in Corrido De Kiansas to tell the story of a dangerous cattle drive in Kansas, while Los Palomares Del Bravo recalls the legendary Puncho Villa in, La Tumba De Villa. Many songs, like Los Jilgueros Del Arroyo s bloody ballad, La Muerte De Fermín Arévalos, document the illegal trafficking of drugs and assassinations of rival drug lords. The music of these story songs is often happy and danceable, despite the grim subject matter.

The Devil’s Swing was recorded as a companion for the film of the same name. This fresh recording, with its ballads and acoustic instruments, will probably evoke an earlier, simpler culture to many listeners. But the tales of drug smuggling disavow that. The lyrics also point out the continued uneasiness between Mexicans and Americans along the border. The Devil’s Swing manages the twin tasks of documenting the life of a unique culture while remaining musically enjoyable.

-Ronnie D. Lankford, Rootsworld



Go tell It from the mountain

Anchiskhati Choir
Sacred Music From The Middle Ages
Georgian Polyphonic Singing


 01. Shobaman shenman (Eastern Georgian monastery school).
02. Dideba maghalta shina (Eastern Georgian monastery school).
03. Kovlisa dabadebulisa (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
04. Jvarsa shensa (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
05. Sashod mtiebisa (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
06. Ghmerti uphali (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
07. Tsina saukuneta (Eastern Georgian monastery school).
08. Kvertkhi ieses dzirisagan (Shemokmedi monastery school, Guria).
09. Meupheo zecatao (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
10. Adide sulo chemo (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
11. Saidumlo utsxo (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
12. Ats ganuteve (Eastern Georgian monastery school).
13. Katolike eklesiisa (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
14. Ghmerto, mokheden (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
15. Akurtkhevs suli chemi (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
16. Ikharebdit martalni (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
17. Razhams Iordanes (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
18. Ver shemdzlebel vart (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
19. Tkveta ganmatavisuphlebelo (Shemokmedi monastery school, Guria).
20. Natelo mkhiarulo (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
21. Sakvirveleba (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
22. Ghirs ars (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
23. Netar ars katsi (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
24. Mkholod-shobili (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
25. Dghes saghmrtoman madlman (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
26. Kurtkheul khar shen (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
27. Shoba sheni (Shemokmedi monastery school, Guria).
28. Ukhrtsnelsa khatsa shensa (Gelati monastery school, Imereti).
29. Alilo (Imeretian Christmas song).
30. Alilo (Imeretian Christmas song).  




 This landmark recording is the first of its kind: a document of the ancient sacred songs of the Republic of Georgia. The haunting polyphony of this ancient music is still sung all over Georgia, from the smallest village to the ancient Anchiskhati Church in Tbilisi.

The Anchiskhati Church Choir

 A shared love of Georgian folk song brought a group of Conservatoire students together in 1987. Their aim was to study Georgian traditional song, both well-known and lesser known examples. Malkhaz Erkvanidze, Davit Zatiashvili, Guram Gagoshidze, Rezo Kiknadze, Davit Shughliashvili are the first five members of the choir; some time later, three other members joined the group. Zaal Tsereteli (mathematician and programmer by education), Temur Imnadze and Alexandre Khakhishvili – Conservatoire students.

  A very important priority for the young singers was to select their repertoire from recordings of old folk singers, where they could find a number of examples, not performed by any contemporary folk groups. A large place in the repertoire of the choir was occupied by songs of renowned folk singer Benia Mikadze (from the village of Kulashi, Samtredia District) and his choir "Sanavardo", as Malkhaz Erkvanidze, "Anchiskhati’s" young leader and Benia Mikadze shared the same village roots.

  Alongside learning songs, an interest in learning old, forgotten traditional polyphonic church hymns soon emerged. This became possible thanks to several collections of transcriptions of Georgian chants published at the end of the 19th century and preserved at the Georgian Folk Music Department of Tbilisi State Conservatoire. From these very collections, the group of students (yet to give themselves a name,) started to learn Easter chants. Very soon they were given the opportunity to chant in services at the church. The choir went to Betania Monastery on April 10, 1988 to chant the Easter liturgy. Despite their début, there was an amazing atmosphere at the church. Everybody was enchanted by the tunes glorifying God, so strange to their ears, but so close to their hearts, memory traces of which had been left by the ancestors. That Easter day can be marked as the return of Georgian traditional church chanting to Georgian liturgy.

  A week later Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia, invited the young choir to his place of residence. The first chant that was chanted for their esteemed host was Kriste Aghsdga from the Shemokmedi School of chant. At this point in time, Pentecost was approaching. For this holiday the blessing and opening of Anchiskhati - the oldest church in Tbilisi was planned. At this very meeting it was decided that the young choir be appointed as the Anchiskhati church choir. From that day on, the choir acquired the name "Anchiskhati Church Choir".

  The revival and renaissance of Georgian church chant, neglected over several generations due to Soviet atheistic censorship, started with the study of thousands of chant transcriptions at the initiative of the young Anchiskhati Church Choir; this initiative was supported both by the Head of the Georgian Church and by the clergy of the newly opened Anchiskhati church, which greatly contributed to the success of this initiative.

  Very soon the choir and what is more important the old, half remembered, Georgian chant gained love and popularity among the parishioners. This in turn led to the appearance of many followers of the choir on the one hand and new members seeking to join the choir on the other hand. Among these were young people of various professions who greatly admired chanting, such as Vasil Tsetskhladze (musician), Mamuka Kiknadze (architect), Grigol Bulia (a student of theological Seminary). Georgian traditional chant began to spread its tendrils all over Georgia. This process was also greatly supported by visits of the choir to different parts of the country. By that time Anchiskhati church choir had already published its first record entitled "Aghdgomasa Shensa" (1991) which included Easter chants from various schools.

  Anchiskhati Church Choir started a new stage of its activity after it was joined by a group of friends: Gocha Giorgadze (iconographer), Davit Megrelidze (architect), Levan Veshapidze (ethnomusicologist), Gocha Balavadze (artist), Nikoloz Beriashvili (geographer). This initiative of Malkhaz Erkvanidze - the choir leader was driven by the wish to perfectly present Georgian folk song repertoire and its diversity. This expanded choir of 12 singers, was then able to revive and learn a number of Georgian folk music examples, such as "Naduri" a variant of the village Dutskhuni , "Khasanbegura" a variant of the Khukhunaishvilis, together with a number of city songs, such as "Gvimgheria", "Gazapkhuli", etc.

  When learning a folk song the choir focuses first and foremost, on the manner of the traditional performance and on the authenticity of scale and intonation of the original song. . This very factor distinguishes Anchiskhati Church Choir from the performance styles of other choirs. It should be mentioned that from this standpoint the choir already had a good example in the form of ensemble "Mtiebi" directed by Edisher Garaqanidze, the first to introduce and instill authentic village manner of performance on stage. This undoubtedly was a big stimulus for the choir. At the same time it can be said, that Anchiskhati played an influential role in the creation of new ensembles and, helped forge their performance manner.

  In 1993 the choir went on its first concert tour outside Georgia - in Greece. This was a truly memorable tour for "Anchiskhati". They held several concerts and took part in New Year’s liturgy at the Cathedral Church in Athens. From this beginning, regular concerts tours to various countries took place: Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Armenia, Latvia, Sweden and Lichtenstein. The choir’s performance always inspired audiences. Thanks to "Anchiskhati" and other Georgian folk groups many foreigners were given the opportunity both to sense and appreciate the beauty and depth of Georgian songs and chants.

  "Anchiskhati’s" first CD was published by a Canadian Company ”Deep Down Productions”. Anchiskhati‘s solo CD collection now exceeds a dozen.

  Separate mention should be made of collections of transcriptions, published by Anchiskhati singers and edited by Malkhaz Erkvanidze, who published a 5 volume collection including hundreds of chants. Now these collections form a basic instruction manual for beginners and professional chanters and chanting choirs. A collection of chants of the Shemokmedi School, published by Davit Shughliashvili is another manual for chanting, which occupies a distinguished place. Dozens of Gurian folk songs have been transcribed by Levan Veshapidze, thus creating an excellent source book for both Georgians and foreigners who love songs of this part of Western Georgia.

 Georgian choral polyphony is unique within world music. It consists of three main styles - chanting, singing and humming. In church chanting, three separate melodies are brought together within a modal harmonic structure, a tradition that was current in the seventh century AD, three hundred years before polyphony developed in other parts of Europe. The seven-member ensemble, Dzveli Kiloeb (Old Modes), has been developed within the Anchiskhati Choir to research and perform this ancient music.

The roots of church chanting lay in the secular music that pre-dates Christianity and survives today in the folk music of the Georgian regions. The songs and dance music relate to the circumstances of village life - the weddings, funerals, lullabies, harvest and hunting songs - and contain vocal techniques, such as Krimanchuli (a kind of yodelling), unique to Georgia. The Anchiskhati Choir researched and now perform the songs; and are expert players of the rare Georgian folk instruments. 



Mount Arakatz

Anna Mailian


01 - Sirt im sasani - Mghitar Ayrivanetsi ( XIII c)
02 - Ov, zarmanali-Aysor dzaynn Hairakan - Grigor Pahlavouni-Hovanes Yerznkatsi (XII-XIII c)
03 - Havoun,Havoun - Grigor Narekatsi ( X c )
04 - Our es, mayr im - Composer & period un know
05 - Daskn Hreakan - Arakel Siunetsi ( XIV-XV cc)
06 - Khorhurd khorin - Khacatur Taronetsi ( XIII c)
07 - Ter Voghormya - Shnorhali-Komitas ( XII, XIX-XX cc)
08 - Havik - Grigor Narekatsi ( X c)
09 - Varanim i meghats - Composer & period un know
10 - Voghormya ints Astvadz - Mestrop Mashtots ( V c )
11 - I nnjmaned arkaiakan ... - Paghtasar Dpir ( XVII-XVIII cc)
12 - Sailn ain ijaner - Grigor Narekatsi ( X c)




Աննա Մայիլյան, հայ երգչուհի (սոպրանո), ազգային և միջազգային բազմաթիվ մրցույթների դափնեկիր։

Ծնվել է Երևանում, 23.10.1970թ.։ Ավարտել է Երևանի Ռոմանոս Մելիքյանի անվան երաժշտական ուսումնարանը (1992),Երևանի Կոմիտասի անվան պետական կոնսերվատորիան (1996)։ Կատարելագործվել է «Մոցարտ» ակադեմիայում (1997-98,Լեհաստան), «Վիլլեքրոզ» ակադեմիայում (Ֆրանսիա), «Հարիկլեա Դարկլե» ակադեմիայում (Ռումինիա)։ Վարպետաց դասեր է ստացել Արաքս Դավթյանի, Քերսթին Մայերի (Շվեդիա), Աննա Դեյնոլդսի (Գերմանիա), Էլլա Բլահովայի (Չեխիա), Մարիաննա Նիկոլեսկույի (Ռումինիա), Քերոլ Սմիթի (Շվեյցարիա) մոտ։

1995-ից մեներգել է Ջրվեժի Սբ. Կաթողիկե եկեղեցում։ 1998թ-ից դասավանդում է Երևանի Կոմիտասի անվան պետական կոնսերվատորիայի դասական երգի ամբիոնում, 2010թ.-ից դոցենտ է։ Երևանում 2000թ. հիմնել է «Սաղմոս» մշակութային կենտրոնը և «Վարպետներ» վոկալ անսամբլը։ 2006-ին հիմնել և ղեկավարում է «Էթնո» վոկալ եռյակը։ Մասնակցել է համերգային փառատոնների, մրցույթների (Ֆրանսիա, Գերմանիա, Բելգիա, Կանադա և այլն)։

1994թ-ին Երևանում «Կոմիտաս-125» վոկալ մրցույթում արժանացել է 1-ին մրցանակի, 1996-ին Ավստրոգերմանական և հայ երգի հանրապետական մրցույթում՝ 1-ին մրցանակի, 2000-ին Ռումինիայում Հարիկլեա Դարկլեի անվան միջազգային մրցույթում՝ ոսկե մեդալի և դափնեկրի կոչման։ 2001-ին Իտալիայում «Իբլա-Գրանդ Պրայզ» միջազգային մրցույթում արժանացել է դափնեկրի կոչման՝ հայ և արևմտագերմանական երգի յուրահատուկ մատուցման համար։

Երգացանկում են հոգևոր և ժողովրդական երգեր, դասական և ժամանակակից հայ և արևմտյան կոմպոզիտորների ստեղծագործություններ։

2003թ. արժանացել է ՀՀ մշակույթի նախարարության ոսկե մեդալի։
2008թ. արժանացել է ՀՀ վաստակավոր արտիստի կոչմանը։


 Armenian Music

In friezes from the walls of ancient pagan buildings we see depicted singers with musical instruments of various kinds, entertaining royal audiences or singing in a group. From these it is evident that music had a place in the earliest civilization of Armenia. Of course, Armenia, like the countries that surrounded her in pagan times, had her strolling minstrels and troubadours, who used musical instruments and their own melodies to accompany the stories they told. From these, no doubt, developed the folk music of the Armenians, which has been described as "lively and distinctly peculiar to the Armenian people, although showing sometimes foreign influences, either Persian or Turkish."

The beginnings of liturgical music came in the fifth century, when so much of the work on an Armenian liturgy was undertaken:

"Christianity introduced a new kind of poetry, namely Church hymns and chants. These were called, in Armenian, sharkans. They were not only written in meter, but were composed with a view to being sung. The word sharakan means "row of gems" Historians of the Middle Ages say that the sharakans were written mainly by the "translators," i.e. by the writers of the fourth and fifth centuries. As a matter of fact, very few sharakans were written after the thirteenth century. Since then, no prayers or hymns have been introduced into the Armenian Church.

It is said by writers of the Middle Ages that St. Sahag arranged the sharakans for ten voices and St. Stephanos for twenty-six voices, corresponding to created things - elements, plants, birds, and animals. There were also women sharakan writers. One of these was Sahakadukht, who lived in the eight century. She not only wrote, but also composed music, and taught singing. Out of modesty, she used to hide behind a curtain, whence she gave instruction to both sexes. Singing was considered a great art in Armenia, and musicians were called "philosophers" Several such "philosophers" were canonized and had the word "philosopher" prefixed to their names… When Catholicos Petros Getarardz went to Constantinople, he took with him a company of musicians, whom he presented, as a gift, for the service of the Byzantine court."

By the end of the fifth century, the musical canons were set. But it was not until the ninth century that a system of notation, called the Khaz system, was used. In liturgical music books today, the marks used for this system are still included, but their meanings have not been deciphered because while they indicated the pitch, rhythm, and nuance, which the singer was supposed to use, they assumed that he already knew the basic melody. Today at the Armenian Academy of Sciences in Yerevan, musicologists are attempting to decipher this system with the aid of computers.

Under the influence of Nerses the Grace-filled, the Armenian hymnary was expanded in the twelfth century, for besides his poetic abilities he had much musical talent, and wrote some of the most beautiful liturgical music to be found in the church. It is said that when, as Catholicos, he was distressed to hear his guards singing Turkish ditties, he composed some of his music to give them something better to sing. In any case, his music is beautiful. One example is Norasdeghdzyal a hymn sung in three parts during the morning service, which speaks of the newly-created life God has offered us and conveys, by the purity of its melody, a sense of the new beginning that the Resurrection, the "morning" of the Church, brings to us.

Nerses was the greatest Armenian liturgical composer to come for many centuries, but closer to our own time stands another great figure. Komitas Vartabed. This sensitive young man received some of his early training under Makar Ekmalian, whose compositions of the Divine Liturgy are sung in many Armenian churches today. Later, he received further instruction in Berlin, and began writing some of the more than three thousand songs and compositions which are attributed to him. He took hundreds of old folk songs, arranging them in the way they were meant to be sung, with a pure national flavor. His work attracted the attention of many Europeans; "Debussy's opinion, in which he called Komitas a great composer on the basis of only one of his songs ("Homeless"), is well-known."

Komitas' greatest achievement is his arrangement of parts of the Divine Liturgy, which he wrote down and restored to their original style. The beauty of the Komitas Liturgy, performed today in churches throughout the world is matchless. After he died in Paris his remains were moved to Armenia to be buried there with other beloved artists. Through the work of Komitas, many people in Europe were for the first time exposed to Armenian music in its original form, unchanged by the influence of the Turkish and other Eastern, but foreign influences which had imposed themselves on the culture of the country.

Armenian folk music was arranged symphonically for the first time by Spendiarian, early in the twentieth century. His symphonic piece, Yerevanina sketches, was based on popular folk melodies, including one written by the eighteenth-century bard, Sayat Nova. With this work, and with others like it, Spendiarian became the greatest influence on Armenian symphonic music.

Spendiarian also took a poem by a classic Armenian writer, Hovhannes Toumanian, and based on it the opera Almast, which depicts the Armenians trying to defend their homeland. This lovely piece, which also contains many of the folk melodies, which Spendarian grew to love, has been performed in Moscow, Tbilisi, Odessa, Tashkent, and other places in the Soviet Union. In 1933, the Yerevan opera house which was later to be named after Spendiarian had its grand opening with a performance of Almast.

The operas of Armen Tigranian, whose Anush is not only beautiful but exacts incredible vocal feats from its singers; the ballets and symphonies of Aram Khachaturian; the haunting quality of Alan Hovhaness' music - all are based on the music which the Armenian church and people handed down to their children.


 It is impossible to perceive Armenia without Sharakans. Wherever you are in the wild nature of Armenian land, Sharakans seems to fill the forgotten colours of the canvas called "Armenia". They astonish us with their variety of colour and image, with the unity of man and nature, with the harmonic and marvellous explication of spirit and flesh.



¡Asi Baila Mi Perú!

Huayno, Valse Créole Et Marinera


01. Pot-Pourri De Huaynos
02. Lo Cholito
03. Hermitana
04. Le Charangiste Solitaire
05. Adios Pueblo De Ayacucho
06. Tocucha
07. Inti Raymi
08. Bajo El Cielo De Los Incas
09. Huayno De La Merced
10. Mi Peru
11. Como Quisiera Tenerte En Mis Brazos
12. Cantenito De Mis Amores
13. Villancicos De Ayacucho
14. Nube Gris
15. Festejo
16. Marinera
17. Danzas Andinas
18. Las Virgenes Del Sol




 Field recordings by Gérard Krémer in "Black" Peru.

Huayno - The Fingerprint of the Incas

Since Huayno lyrics are sung in Quechua, many consider it to be one of the most authentic Peruvian dances. Huayno has been a vessel carrying the essence of Inca culture throughout various generations.

The first references of Huayno appeared in 1586. The book “Vocabulary of the Indians of Peru” mentioned the “Huayñucuni”, a music indigenous people danced behind closed doors. “Huayñucuni” translates as “dancing with a partner, with arms folded.” Under colonial rule, Huayñucuni was rarely danced in public. Its successor, the Huayno, is the root of most Andean dances.

Huaynos are danced in most Andean festivities. They could be classified by the region of origin. Northern Huayno is characterized by joyful steps. Southern Huayno, instead, has cadent rhythms. Central Huayno has animated swings but very tragic lyrics. Why tragic lyrics? Quechuas lived under the despotic rule of mining corporations. Quechuas sang to vent off their sorrows and seek consolation through Huayno.

Vals - The Symbol of Peruvian Criollismo

Vals is the most valuable cultural expression of Peruvian criollismo. Due to its multiple cultural influences, Vals is an iconic dance encompassing our vast Peruvian diversity.

Dancing is not an activity disassociated with the world. Every dance is a living entity shaped by both historical and daily events. A minor change in the flow of events can provoke repercussions in the fate of any particular dance. This is how dances are developed, grow or simply decay.

In the late 1890’s, the fusion of African tunes, the French Minuet, the Polish Mazurka, the Viennese waltz and the Spanish jota produced the Peruvian Vals. Most Limeños, who loved Opera, didn’t pay attention to it. Gradually, fabulous performers as Felipe Pinglo and Chabuca Granda brought Vals to great acclaim. If a Limeño from Colonial times would materialize today, he would be astonished to see that Vals, a music generally despised then, is now the main symbol of Peruvian criollismo.

Vals, with slight steps and cadent tempo, is the most conventional of Peruvian dances.

Marinera Norteña - A Romantic Coastal Dance

Hands down, Marinera is the most iconic of Peruvian coastal dances. Along with Vals, Marinera also imbibed a manifold of cultural currents. Therefore, any serious exhibition of Peruvian dances would be incomplete without Marinera.

Despite multiple theories, Marinera probably arose from Zamacueca. There is a striking resemblance in the steps of both typical dances.

While men danced Marinera wearing shoes, women did so barefooted. Proud of their fortitude, women even sought coarser grounds to dance on. Hence, they created the motto: “the coarser the ground, the greater the dancer.” Women then exhibited their calloused soles to earn the respect of skillful dancers. Some women also danced Marinera holding a Chicha bottle on their heads.

Although we also have ‘Marinera Limeña’, ‘Marinera Norteña’ surpassed the former in popularity. The Norteño dance exudes joy, energy and speed. “La Concheperla” is the most popular Marinera song.

Why was it named Marinera (Sea dance)? Nobody knows. The swings and swirls of ‘Marinera’ assimilate those of sea waves. And some say Trujillano seamen may have baptized it so. Others assert that Trujillano writer Abelardo Gamarra picked that term in 1879.




Hell Yeah!



Everybody clap your hands!
and if you can't clap your hands, 
clap your hands anyway...! 

Buckwheat Zydeco
Down Home Live
Thanksgiving At El Sid O's


01 - Soul Serenade (Bucks Intro) - 6:14
02 - What You Gonna Do? - 10:57
03 - Hard To Stop - 7:33
04 - Walking To New Orleans - 8:40
05 - Trouble - 6:59
06 - Make A Change - 5:45
07 - Put It In The Pocket - 5:29
08 - Out On The Town - 8:12
09 - Beast Of Burden - 13:00


Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, Jr. (accordion, Hammond B-3, electric keyboard, lead vocals)
Lee Allen Zeno (bass, master of ceremonies)
Michael Melchione (guitar)
Sir Reginald Master Dural (rubboard)
Kevin Menard (drums)
Curtis Watson (trumpet)
Gray Mayfield (sax)
Paul "Lil' Buck" Sinegal (guitar)
Melvin Veazie (guitar)
Calvin Landry (trumpet)
Paul Wiltz (Sax)




 Live from Louisiana's Creole Country comes Buckwheat Zydeco’s "Down Home Live!," the first-ever live album of zydeco's best-loved ambassador, Buckwheat Zydeco. "Down Home Live!," is a record of rollicking good times tracked in the intimate confines of El Sid O's Zydeco & Blues Club during a hometown break for the barnstorming bandleader's annual Thanksgiving show in Lafayette, La.

Blues Access, in a cover story and lead review, said: "The good-natured energy that literally pops off of this disc immediately makes you wish you had been at El Sid O’s to witness the show in person. But you’ll be glad to have this document of the event that catches not only every feel-good note but the essential ‘vibe’ of the evening as well ... it’s impossible to resist being caught up in the sheer sense of fun and release (it) draws you into."

From the powerhouse dance floor boogie of "What You Gonna Do?" to the majestic soul of Dural's brilliant reading of "Beast of Burden," the band does it all. The group even revisits their inventive reworking of Fats Domino's "Walking to New Orleans" and Dural's reggae-tinged zyde-soul anthem "Make A Change."

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others have called Buckwheat Zydeco "one of the best party bands in America," and now music fans need venture no farther than their CD players to find out what all the fuss is about.

" Down Home Live!" showcases the show-stopping dynamics that've turned countless curious listeners and concert-goers into full-fledged zydeco fanatics. This is also the disc the converted have been waiting for, as it captures Buck’s irresistible personality, bottling the between-song patter, soaring solos and horn-driven workouts that are this legendary live act's trademarks.


that we have this music
rush to the last remaining
record shop
and get your copy


or get your Buckwheat

... The selection of music is comprised of old standards and new originals that illustrate the scope of Buckwheat Zydeco’s capabilities. While technical bravado is substantial, the group’s delivery allows us to play distant witness to a rare party. Down Home Live is incredibly fun, and will make you want to catch the first plane to Louisiana for some first-person interaction with one of the greatest performing units of the past thirty years ...


The truth is out there...

Epirus Songs with Pagona
Clarinet: Makis Borodimos

01. Μια ωραία βοσκοπούλα - 2:43
02. Δεροπολίτισσα - 1:22
03. Γιάννη μου το μαντήλι σου - 2:57
04. Στου βοριά το μπαλκονάκι - 2:19
05. Τσιγγάνοι εσείς που ξέρετε - 2:18
06. Πες μου κόρη - 1:47
07. Με κοιτούν δυο μαύρα μάτια - 2:23
08. Σάββατο μέρα πίναμε - 3:34
09. Για την αγάπη ζούμε Γιαννακη - 2:19
10. Αυγερινέ που είσαι ψηλά - 2:23
11. Με Μαγιού λουλούδια - 2:10
12. Παπαρούνα - 2:48
13. Μπάρμπα Μυλωνά - 2:57
14. Ένα βράδυ βγήκε ο Χάρος - 1:35
15. Τον άνθρωπο τον μερακλή - 3:34
16. Τι έχεις βασιλικέ μου - 2:21
17. Τριανταφυλλιά - 1:32
18. Με κοιτά με κοιτάς - 0:40
19. Μπήκε στο χορό - 3:15
20. Αχός βαρύς - 2:16
21. Η αγάπη μήλο μου έστειλε - 2:27
22. Σήμερα είναι Πασχαλιά - 2:32
23. Αυτά τα μαύρα μάτια - 2:34
24. Απ' το Πογώνι μια παντρεμένη - 4:10

Αθανασίου Παγώνα / Athanasiou Pagona - voice
Μάκης Μποροδήμος / Makis Borodimos -clarinet

The music of Epirus (Greek: Μουσική της Ηπείρου), in the northwest of Greece contains folk songs that are mostly pentatonic and polyphonic, sung by both male and female singers. Distinctive songs include lament songs (mirolóyia), shepherd's songs (skáros) and drinking songs (tis távlas). The clarinet is the most prominent folk instrument in Epirus, used to accompany dances, mostly slow and heavy, like the menousis, fisouni, podhia, sta dio, sta tria, zagorisios, kentimeni, koftos, yiatros and tsamikos. The polyphonic song of Epirus constitutes one of the most interesting musical forms, not only for the east Mediterranean and the Balkans, but also for the worldwide repertoire of the folk polyphony like the yodeling of Switzerland. Except from its scale, what pleads for the very old origin of the kind is its vocal, collective, rhetorical and modal character.

A happy new year to all of you!
> ♥ <


¡El Sucu Suco Vive!

Isla Caribe
Sucu Suco


01 - La chaqueta roja
02 - Santa Fe
03 - Popurri
04 - Algo mas del Son
05 - Chaila
06 - El rabito de lechon
07 - Felipe Blanco
08 - Siento por ti
09 - Por tu mente
10 - Tu corres con mi suerte
11 - Mi Sentimiento por la musica
12 - Cuidate del palo

Frank Federico Boza - director
Osmundo Calzado - musical director



 ...this sounds good, sucu-suco from the country in Cuba, played by a band led by Frank Federico Boza. It’s local, happy, meant for dancing, and full of sparkling energy. There’s a horn section, and an electric bass, and a female coro, and it feels recorded in some nearby meeting hall, open and rocking...It’s like visiting a provincial capital, and hearing the best band in town...

 Cuban Music: The School of Life
June 9, 2013

An interview with composer Frank Federico Boza, director of Cuba’s Isla Caribe.

Vicente Morín Aguado

  HAVANA TIMES - Composer Frank Federico Boza has been a professional musician for 35 years and the director of his own, orchestral ensemble for the last 20. Our conversation begins with a look at a rather well-received tendency we see in Cuban music, the use of crude refrains which draw from the language typical of underprivileged sectors of Cuban society.

“I don’t like using rough language for shock value; you don’t need it to remain popular. The important thing for me is being true to myself, working from my roots up, to sing about the beautiful things you see in this country.”

However, the catchiest songs have refrains that say things like: “If you don’t have a stomach for killin’, step down and let yourself be killed.”

“Look, Mr. Reporter, people forget the palm trees, the fruits of the earth, the city of Baracoa, its cocoa, its coffee, its papayas and other fruits, the people who work the land, Cuba without politics, the things we should remember and celebrate. To stay at the top, some people will do anything, from buying someone else’s musical numbers to using cheap commercial tactics.”

HT: So, is it a problem of corruption, of bureaucracy? As an artist, you see these problems in the field of music itself?

Frank Federico Boza: Let’s not be too harsh and say it’s a combination of luck and the fact that, perhaps, people are simply not interested in some ideas. If we worked from the bottom up, people who judge you afterwards wouldn’t get to decide what to produce, whether you get to travel or not, whether your music is played on TV, etc. That is, we need to democratize the process. I am not trying to be political when I use this word. I use it to mean an effective control over something, having the opinion of the artists, the musicians themselves.

Boza was born in El Entronque de la Maya, a small town near Santiago de Cuba. After completing his military service, he became an amateur musician and played at the Nueva Gerona Cultural Center in Cuba’s Isla de la Juventud.

FFB: I started out at a typical Cuban brass band, similar to Aragon or the Original de Manzanilla. I went from being an amateur to a professional percussionist. I enrolled at the Vocational Advancement School (Escuela de Superacion Profesional) and completed drumming and piano studies. I was already composing my own music when I took on the challenge of moving to Havana, in 1991.

HT: What role do lyrics play in your conception of art?

FFB: I sing to flowers, to palm trees, to children, to good ideas and good things. Ideas know no borders. My album, A Bit More Son (Algo más del Son) is sold out, and is faring quite well abroad. I got to know the Sucu Suco genre at Isla de la Juventud and wanted to do my own version of this very old son tradition, with a small ensemble, like a jazz band. At first, I met with a lot of rejection and distrust, but I stuck to my idea, I was persistent.

HT: What did you want from your band?

FFB: Like I said, I wanted a small, typical band, like NG La Banda, to give you an example. We had our debut at La Tropical. I pushed my ideas through. At first, people said I was crazy, but, in the end, they were hugging me with emotion. I had managed to re-launch the Sucu Suco from Pinar del Rio in a different style, something completely original. That’s when people started to congratulate me. There were people who wanted to work with me and that’s how Algo mas del Son, produced by Cuba’s EGREM label, was born. It was produced by Rafael Chacon and includes a song, inspired by a short story by former Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, sung by Sara Gonzalez, Guisazo’s Fault (La Culpa del Guisazo). The album also includes classic pieces from the genre, such as The Piglet’s Tiny Tail (El rabito del lechón), a masterpiece by Mongo Rives, Pinar del Rio’s folk music king.

My experience as a journalist is that Cuba tends to forget its musical traditions, and only regains an interest in them when a daring entrepreneur comes along and draws its attention to it. The Sucu Suco could be as fortunate as traditional ballad music from Santiago de Cuba or the Buena Vista Social Club. Many bands simply copy others, they’re part of commercial enterprise aimed at making a bit of money, getting on a plane, earning a bit more money, returning and continuing to do what they do in show business. Save for some rare exceptions, I don’t see a lot of originality around.

FFB: That’s the way it is, Vicente, and it’s because they don’t go to the root of things, they don’t go looking for the truly valuable artists. You see a lot of people who’ve been to school, working with the same directors and arrangers. They’re there, but they don’t produce anything novel. In the old days, Chapotin was Chapotin and Chocolate was Chocolate, La Aragon was her own unique thing and Benny quite another. When you see something original, look into it, you’ll see it didn’t come out of any school, and I say this not to deny the importance of schooling. Like I said, I am grateful for the opportunity to study I had when I was a young man who had just come out of military service. I was able to become a musician thanks to that.

HT: Are you satisfied with your career? What paths lie ahead of you? What challenges?

FFB: I’m not in the least bit satisfied, though I am pleased to be able to say the band has been playing in Havana for twenty years and that it continues to be successful. We haven’t travelled abroad, and we have a new series of songs for another album, which I’m sure will sell. It’s not a question of moving up or down, the important thing is to stay where you are, to hold your ground. The fact you’re not at the top isn’t always your fault. Whether people see you or listen to your music doesn’t always depend on what you do.

It seems we live in a world that is chaotic and out of control. Money talks and bureaucracy sets the rules.

I’m not into naming names, I am an artist and it’s not my place. It could be misinterpreted. But, let me tell you, even shows are suffering, because venues no longer have artistic directors, people who guide you, tell you what’s appropriate for the place, the time, the audience, people who can organize a show rationally.

HT: You spoke of the so-called “academic sin”, but you recognize the value of schooling nonetheless.

FFB: Music schools do produce relatively qualified musicians, but, as time passes, and with the new educational system in place, we start to see more and more of the same. Before, you had conservatories and maestros, without the massive classrooms you have today. New things emerged when you stepped out into the real world, when you got on stage or went on tour, when you recorded an album. It was a different and highly competitive world, with no room for boredom, repetition or coarseness.

HT: Maestro, the sad thing is that, while you sing about beautiful things, others compare themselves to a bus and yell stuff like “Oil and water, I’m a bus, get out of the way or I’ll run you down.”

Boza takes my hand and says:

FFB: Polo Motañez, born and raised in the Cuban sticks, was rescued from oblivion by a European label. The old men from the Buena Vista Social Club, that was a project put together very far away from here. I think you start to see where uniqueness is appreciated, where permanent success is found…

HT: So, Boza, what’s more important to you, school or life experience?

FFB: Life is a school, but it teaches you things in due course. When I was a student, I was young, I had less experience. Today, I have the experience that the school of life has given me, and that’s the reason I think the way I do.

interview source



Desde La Isla de la Juventud...

La Tumbita Criolla de Mongo Rives
"El Sucu Sucu"


01. Yo Quiero Bailar Con María Elena
02. Candela Son Tus Ojos
03. La Campana
04. Candela Es Mi Sucu Sucu
05. Sucu Sucu Para Ti
06. Que Bella
07. Los Masajes No Tienen Cuevas
08. Chinito Que Vendes Tu
09. El Melon
10. Dame El Rabito Del Lechon
11. Que Rico Baila Clarita




"Different regional migrations of Cuban workers resulted in varations of the son. One such variation was born in the 1920s out of the Isla de Los Pinos. This style, called Sucu-sucu, gave a particular flavor in terms of sound and dance. Tres, machete (used as a scraper), seed shakers, and bottles played with spoons created an orginal sound. Unlike other son forms, the dancers of Sucu-sucu don't move their hips and shoulders. Instead, complex foot movements are emphasized."

- Bruce Polin

Ramon “Mongo” Rives
from Fidels :

The 'Sucu Sucu', a "rural Cuban" rhythm that is reputed to have originated by a Woman named 'Bruna Castillo'.
It was purportedly created in 1840 in a house called "La Tumbita" that was close to a "village" named 'Santa Fe' which is now the second largest city on La 'Isla Del Pinos'. (now called 'La Isla de la Juventud' since 1978)

The rhythm originally was known to have several names: "rumbita", "cotunto" up until the 1920's when it was named 'Sucu Sucu' based on the sounds made by the style of playing the 'bandurria' and the sliding and dragging of the feet on the wooden floor of the "bohios" and "conucos". (small houses of the campesinos/farmers at that time).

To my knowledge, one the only few Cuban musicians still playing 'Sucu Sucu' and keeping it alive commercially is Ramon “Mongo” Rives, a 'Laúd' player and the great grandson of 'Bruna Castillo'.


by Maria del Carmen Mestas

The voice of the old man from Isla de la Juventud rose up in the night accompanied by the rhythm of a beautiful sucu sucu, and there, in that improvised get-together, was awakened the curiosity to investigate this rich expression of Cuban folklore.

Its origin dates back to 1840, in La Tumbita farm, close to the town of Santa Fe, in what is nowadays Isla de la Juventud, formerly Isla de Pinos. According to musicologist María Teresa Linares, the music is similar in its formal, melodic, instrumental and harmonic structure to a son montuno. It alternates a soloist with a chorus that sings a fixed passage, accompanied by the band. The soloist sings improvisations on a quartet or a ten-stanza verse.

The sucu sucu reached a greater standing around 1950, when the famous author Eliseo Grenet stylized it and composed pieces that achieved a huge popularity in Cuba and abroad. During that phase, the best-known one was called Felipe Blanco, which was promoted by the radio on a large scale and, later on, was prohibited because of the political jokes prompted by its lyrics.

The story says that Felipe Blanco was in service to Spain; his task was to cut off the ears of Cuban rebels.

On July 26, 1896, those participating in the uprising of the Evangelina Cossío conspiracy had dispersed themselves around the hills of the Sierras de las Casas and, worn out from the long treks, were sleeping in some caves close to the La Concepción ranch.

Felipe Blanco, using some tricks, attracted the rebels to his house and offered them food and shelter, before he betrayed them. They were all handed over to the Spanish and subsequently massacred.

The sucu sucu begins to spread around the 1920s and 1930s. By that date Jamaicans and people from the Cayman Islands, who work mainly in the recollection of grapefruit and other fruits, reach the North American haciendas established on Isla de Pinos. Workers from Niquero, Guantánamo, Manzanillo and other places from the eastern region also settle there, at the start of the construction of the so-called Presidio Modelo.

From 1948 to 1950 new elements enter into sucu sucu; in this way it breaks with the traditional scheme. The genre became more stylized, rapidly becoming commercialized. This was due to the work of Eliseo Grenet and Ramírez Corría, who introduced variations to that folkloric expression from Isla de Pinos.

There are two types of structure in the musical bands: one, made up by accordion, harmonica, kettledrum and güiro, violin or guitar; the other one, following the style of the traditional son bands, made up by marímbula, tres, guitar, bongo, claves and maracas.

Groups from Santa Fe and Jacksonville used a stool or conga drum in sucu sucu to mark the rhythm. More modern groups now use even trumpets. In the past, the machete was used as a rasper.

How is it danced? Many people describe sucu sucu’s choreography like that of the son, with the only difference that there is not a long and a short step, but two short shuffle steps with each foot. Older people tell us that in the past, the dancers used to light a candle to Saint Nicholas, and they would dance while it remained lit. The respite depended on giving a sieve to those who were awaiting the opportunity to join the dance.

What is true is that the choreography of this genre has been changing and that each generation has introduced its own modalities.

Several Cuban bands have worked for an international reach of sucu sucu in their albums as well as in their international tours. Among the best-known bands are Sonny Boy and Mongo Rives y su Tumbita. Nowadays this expression of great resonant strength arouses enthusiasm not only on Isla de la Juventud, but also abroad, thanks to the work developed by the Isla Caribe orchestra, directed by Frank Federico Boza.



El Hijo del Padre en la Casa de Nora : )

Elio Revé Jr y su Charangón
Changüí en la casa de Nora



01. Changui En La Casa De Nora
02. Bueno, Bueno Y Que
03. Muevete Pa' Qui
04. Soy Reve
05. Iyabo
06. Pensamiento Absurdo
07. Al Principio
08. La Visita
09. El Trompo
10. La Duena De La Habana


Elio Revé Jr. - piano
Giovanni Cofiño - bass
Raúl Martínez - güiro
Carlos Rodríguez - timbales, batá, bongó del monte, quinto, campana
Humberto Sosa - congas
Fernando Revé - clave
Luis Ravelo - bongó
Eulises Benavides, Fidel Laniel, Orlando Montaner - trombones
Leonel González - tres
Dagoberto Vazquez, Rosendi Diaz, Abdel Rosalps and Pascual Matos Aguirren, Hector Vaentin, Felipe Valdes Flores - vocals



The musical legacy of the father of changui, Elio Reve, lives on through his son Elio Reve Jr who, together with the legendary band of his father presents the rhythm of changui, both traditional and new. A big sound from a big band, Elio Reve Jr continues the tradition, leading the band that his father formed, the Orquesta Reve.
"The musical legacy of the father of Changüí, Elio Revé, lives on through his son Elio Revé Jr who, together with the legendary band, presents the rhythm of Changüí from a new and exciting angle."

Changüí, changüí, changüí, there are ten different changüí played here, all combining into a stylish, swinging presentation. Changüí en la Casa de Nora is a sizzling concept album brought into being by the people who most rightfully should be acknowledged. Created by Elio Revé, Jr., the son and heir to Elio Revé, Sr., the man who did most to bring the changüí from the province first into Havana, then into all of Cuba, and finally to the world. This is as authentic as it gets.

To think of changüí and where it came from, you must first think of the Eastern corner of island of Cuba. The Oriente’s most well-known province is Guantanamo, an area rich in musical culture, but unique because moving populations in the early 1800s brought many Bantu influences from the Congo and the Ivory Coast of Africa by way of nearby Haiti. At the turn of nineteenth century into the twentieth, the mountainous Oriente was a remote, rural area whose inhabitants had developed many traditions in music and dance. There and about then, the changüí settled into its recognizable form.

The changüí is a regional creation, a lively country music, with some Bantu rhythm influences. This is a pulsating earthy music, which sounds a little rough, but always seems spontaneous. The basic broad range of sound results from combining percussion from maracas, bongos, marinbola (a large wooden box with metal hoops which acts as a mixture of percussion and bass), and guiro (usually a metal can hit with a stick) all being driven by a tres (three stringed guitar) played aggressively. The lead singing I can only describe as acrobatic

The first song here “Changüí en la Casa de Nora” is how the changüí was traditionally played before Elio Revé, Sr. migrated to Havana in 1955. Nora was born in the same place as Revé, Sr. and maintains her home there where the jam sessions still take place. After hours of musicians playing and the country dance probably going all night until close to dawn, she is known to serve up her famous soup and seafood. The chorus, always sung rapidly in childish voices, says “Let’s go to Nora’s house to eat ajiaco”.

As a young man, Elio Revé, Sr. made his way to Havana and carried the changüí with him. He began experimenting, and began using trombones and piano to enhance the form, as heard here on the next track “Bueno, Bueno y Que”. He fused the changüí with son, which had made its way down from the Orientes a few decades earlier. In 1956, he formed the Orquesta Revé, which as well as becoming one of the most important Cuban bands has qualified as Cuba’s most important musical school, where many of the country’s top musicians began their careers. Revé, Sr. continued experimenting, adding the five-key timbale as well as the bata drum to the percussive mix, all of which earned his band the title of “Father of all Orchestras” and he became known as the “Father of Changüí”.

A few years back, the legendary and innovative musical director died in a road accident. His legacy lives on through his son, Elio Revé, Jr., who has since his first steps as a professional pianist has been a key element in his father’s band, Orquesta Revé, more commonly known as El Charagon.

Elio Revé, Jr. is musical director now and dedicates the record to his father, both as a tribute to his memory and a fulfillment of his wishes. Revé, Jr. has ladled up a wonderful serving of changüí. El Charagon is gifted with three different vocal soloists who genuinely soar and the chorus is a delight. “Soy Revé” is a solid dance tune, deserving of much play on Latin music stations. In “La Visita,” the singer bursts out with “toon, toon, toon” imitating the percussive sound of the clave to remind us the rhythm sticks are not found in the changüí. Whether you miss that particular rhythm spice or not, all the selections are pretty tasty.

For the best time, put this record on while you and your guests are preparing a friendly casual dinner at home. At over fifty minutes of play, it’s a pretty good serving, but there’s never enough changüí for a rhythm-hog.

Barbara Flaska