“Afro-Peruvian Rhythms” CD Review

The Peruvian folk ensemble “De Rompe y Raja ” highlights the roots of Peruvian music in the album “Afro-Peruvian Rhythms”. This album is born from the soundtrack of “A Zest for Life” – an Afro-Peruvian dance documentary directed by Eve. A. Ma for Palomino Productions.

“De Rompe y Raja ” is composed primarily of Peruvians who have adopted the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States as their home. The Group has participated in the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and performed in venues from California to Florida.

Lalo Izquierdo, master Afro-Peruvian percussionist, holding a "quijada".

The album includes the special participation of Lalo Izquierdo, a percussionist, dancer choreographer, and folklorist. Lalo instructed the musicians and also performs in four of the tracks. Jorge Luis Jasso, one of Peru’s best-known criollo singer-songwriters, is the lead vocalist in two of the album tracks.

What I Like About “Afro-Peruvian Rhythms”

• The album has a good collection of Afro-Peruvian rhythms and songs, originating from the documentary “A Zest for Life”.
• True to the Afro-Peruvian folklore, they use Peruvian folk instruments like the “cajón”, the “quijada de burro”, and the “cajita”.
• My favorite song has to be the classic “Toro Mata” – which as a rich history.

This song is said to have political significance from the time of Peruvian independence from Spain (where Spain is the killed bull). But “Toro Mata” has also been given other interpretations. Initially “Toro Mata” was its own musical genre dating back to the times slaves lived in the “Cañete” valley in Peru. The song takes shape when in 1930 Rosa Mercedes Ayarza de Morales gathers and edits a version of “Toro Mata” similar to the current popular version.

There were serveral versions of “Toro Mata”, with the version by Caitro Soto in the early 1970’s being one of the most populars. I learned about “Toro Mata” like many of you, though the Salsa version performed by Salsa Queen Celia Cruz, in her 1st collaboration with Johnny Pacheco for Fania’s “Celia & Johnny”.

What I Didn’t Like About “Afro-Peruvian Rhythms”

The "De Rompe y Raja" cast for "A Zest for Life"

• Recording quality is acceptable, but good enough to enjoy the recording.
• The last song is a cajon demonstration by Lalo Izquierdo, which is surely great to watch in the documentary, but less than exciting to listen without the video.

My Recommendation About “Afro-Peruvian Rhythms”

I like “Afro Peruvian Rhythms” as a nice album to get a taste for authentic Afro-Peruvian music. It serves as a great folk album to add to your Latin music collection.

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