Wednesday, March 3, 2010

ROW: Colombie – Le Vallenato (Ocora)

Living in polka country, as I do, naturally necessitates a love of the squeezebox. My tastes run fairly wide when it comes to the instrument’s applications and some of my favorite sounds are those of the vallenato, a Columbian cumbia progenitor that pares participants down to the potent combo of diatonic accordion, caja (conical hand drum) and guacharaca (bamboo shaker). Later variations added horns and bass coming closer to modern cumbia forms, but this mid-90s Ocora set contains field recordings of some of the elders of the art form including Nicolas “Colacho” Mendoza, Antonio “Toño” Salas and others energetically running down sones, paseos, merengues and puyas in the aforementioned stripped down set-up. The crossweave of often improvised, oscillating accordion leads and polyrhythmic accompaniment is watertight and instantly infectious to listener limbs. Several interstitial cappella songs spice up the flow of the program with the vocalists shout-singing the refrains. The is dance music at its most unvarnished and propulsive, impossible to ingest without experiencing a subsequent imperative to shuffle and stomp the feet. If I won the lottery, a complete Ocora collection would undoubtably be among my initial expenditures. Until that day, I make do with the dozen or so I have, this one being at or near the top of the stack.

* I’m not normally one to trumpet download sites, but Purayuca is a must-stop for anyone even casually interested in vallenato: Dozens of classic LPs and CD reissues, which are crow’s teeth rare in the States including the Ocora above. Swing by there and tell me what you think...

1 comment:

  1. More Ocora here: