CD Duration: 71.05 / Year: 2021
November 2021 release. Early recordings from this Mexican band consisting of around six marimbas (plus a little guitar and percussion).
El Cha Cha Cha Del Tren
Come Little Darling Come
Cu Cu Rru Cucu Palama
Little Yellow Breasted Sparrow
Te Huante Pec
Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore?
The Oxen ‘N’
How Pretty Puebla Is!
Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White
You Belong To My Heart
Las Clases De Cha Cha Cha
In the far south of Mexico lies a state that is little changed for centuries. It’s people are Indians with an age old caste system. Here is lush vegetation, magnificent peaks and soil that produces very good coffee. The region is called Chiapas. A further 150 odd miles on you find the Guatemalan border and from Chiapas right down some distance therein grow forests of some excellent hardwoods. Prime among them is rosewood, used for the keys of the Marimba to give it’s distinctive mellow sound.
Not surprisingly here, the marimba is king, though the name is thought to be of African origin, the local indians using their equivalent of “woods that sing” to describe the instrument.
Orchestras consisting of little more than the marimba abound and appropriately most of the programme on this disc originates from that region. It’s very different from anything heard north of the Rio Grande or in Europe, but has a hypnotic effect somehow.
There are typically six or so marimba in these orchestras, but they are really a co-operative since there is no leader, each of the members taking turns to solo and you never see them using sheet music – it’s all improvised.
About twice a year they set out in a battered old bus in the marathon journey of some nine hundred miles to Mexico City (where this and many other recordings were made) and take the chance to do concerts, all of which help their sparse economy.
It’s not all bandits, drug smugglers and cacti as one often sees it depicted.
You’ll be amazed how infectious this music is and I wouldn’t be surprised if you fall under its spell.
Tony Nobbs. 2021.