Various ‘Cumbia, Cumbia Volumes One and Two’ 2CD (World Circuit) 4/5

These volumes were orginally released separately on CD during the early 1990s, but have now wisely been re-packaged together, particularly given that since their intial issues sufaced a good deal more attention has been paid to Columbian music in the UK and Europe. In fact in the last three years or so there has been an extensive trawling of the Discos Fuentes (Columbia’s most prestigious label with the distinctive yellow and blue insignia) back catalogue and this has included salsa and Afro-Columbian funk. The music here is firmly on classic cumbia with the second CD focusing mainly on the 1960s where jazzy orchestrationbs including the glorious retro sound of the clarinet (an influence imported from New Orleans, perhaps?) while the first is in general more contemporary (that is to say with a healthy does of salsa-style brass and percussion) with songs recorded between 1976 and 1988, though a few songs from the 1960s are included. Even the newest songs are now almost twenty-five years old. It is indicative of their enduring popularity that one such song, ‘La colegiala’ by Rodolfo y su Tipica R.A.7 has became the background tune to a famous coffee advert while various others have at some point or another found their way on to the television screens. Mambo-esque big band cumbia emerges on ‘Lupita’ by Guillermo Gonzalez y su Orquesta while in contrast pared down accordion dominates on ‘Baila Rosita’ by Los Guarachos which is the most traditional form of cumbia and one that is heard in the Columbian countryside. If the names are unfamiliar, then one group that should not be ignored are Sonora Dinamita who have become something of a musical institution in the country since 1960 and are in fact well known throughout Latin America and even in the United States. They offer a jovial and totally uplifting piece in ‘Se me perdió la cadenita’. As ever with World Circuit releases, luxurious packaging and informative inner sleeve notes on the individual songs and musicians concerned. A welcome re-issue of music that is instantly accessible to even the beginner to Latin music and it goes without saying that it will help spice up any party atmosphere. Tim Stenhouse

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