February 2013 CD of the Month

Jan 23, 2014

Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet  "Cuidad de los Reyes (City of Kings)"  Sapo Negro

Our February CD of the Month selection goes beyond the traditional border of Black History or African American Awareness month to include all of the Americas, so we go to Lima, Perú in South America to choose the third installment of the Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet on their own Sapo Negro (black frog) recording label. Cuidad de los Reyes or City of Kings is an ideal combination of modern bop jazz with the under recorded rhythms of Perú which developed its own musical identity from a mixture of indigenous Incan and Andean traditions blended with the imported Spanish and African elements that arrived after its conquest by Europeans. For their brand new release-their most impressive to date- Gabriel and crew continue playing Afro-Peruvian rhythms with their brand of swingin’ bop. Of the 13 tunes on the CD, 12 are originals, Henry Mancini’s Moon River being the exception.  

Afro-Peruvians rhythms such as landó, festejo, vals and marinera are more relaxed and less percussive than the more “in your face” Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean music styles. In fact, Afro-Peruvian music, similar to Brazilian, is not based on clave as are the rhythms of the Caribbean basin. Gabriel was born in Lima, Perú which during its Spanish colonial period was known as la Cuidad de los Reyes or the City of Kings. Since forming his ensemble in 2008, the enterprising son of a successful playwright has toured the US several times, played in festivals in many locations around the globe and has performed in his homeland. Most of the other band members are also Peruvian including fellow composer-saxist Laura Andrea Leguía and the percussionist-dancer, Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón who specializes in the Peruvian cajón or box drum, on stage he will strap a little box drum-cajita around his neck while dancing to the beat of his own drum.

  The Incas and Perú gave the world potatoes and one of the planet's most marvelous sacred sites, Machu Picchu. Gabriel Alegría and his Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet are following the tradition of the Incan messengers, the Chasquis, and spreading music far and wide.