Music of the Andes
Putumayo continues its 20th anniversary celebrations with the April 29th release of Music of the Andes, a collection of enchanting music celebrating the company’s Latin American roots. Traditional Andean music offers modern listeners an aural connection to the pre-Columbian era when this vast mountainous region was populated exclusively by indigenous cultures. In the 1960s, the sounds of the Andes were embraced by Latin American intellectuals involved in social and political movements. After the global success of Simon & Garfunkel’s hit “El Condor Pasa” in 1970, large numbers of Andean musicians facing political and economic challenges emigrated and found appreciative audiences performing on North American and European city streets.
Contemporary Andean music today owes its complexity and richness to the vast array of instruments, rhythms and genres that have evolved there over the centuries. Argentinian singer-songwriter and guitarist Suni Paz immerses the listener in an atmosphere of rustic nostalgia with “A la Huella,” a tribute to folk dances performed in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay. A native of Colombia, Alejo Garcia draws on the traditional narrative rhythms of Ecuadorian sanjuanito with the ballad, “Peregrino de tu Cielo” (Pilgrim of Your Heaven) which he recorded with local musicians on a musical Motorcycle Diaries-style trip through South America.
Ecuadorean Luis Alban, and his wife, Susan, founded Tribus Futuras in 1994, bringing their cultural experiences in the Andes to Chicago, where they performed for 15 years before returning to Ecuador. Their instrumental song “Hijos Del Viento” features haunting pan pipes which ascend above the gently lilting rhythms of a classical guitar. Dueto Nocturnal adds a Colombian flavor to the album with “Compañero,” a folk piece echoing the romantic bolero tradition popular throughout Latin America.
Written in 1913 by a Peruvian composer, “El Condor Pasa” (The Condor Passes) is undoubtedly the most well known Andean musical export. This version by Afro-Peruvian group Peña features the Spanish classical guitar, an important instrument in many Andean recordings. Bolivia’s Punto Nazca perform the joyful folk tune, “Linda Boliviana” (Beautiful Bolivian Girl), highlighting the sounds of the charango and quena. On “Diablo Rojo Diablo Verde,” Chilean Pascuala Ilabaca and her band Fauna introduce listeners to the sounds of carnival in the Andes.
Now based in New England, Andean fusion group Viva Quetzal is comprised of musicians with origins in Chile, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. Their performance of the classic song “Caballo Viejo” features musical elements from the mountains, plains and coasts of South America. Founded by Colombian guitarist Iván Landínez, La Populär conjures visions of a tranquil Andean sunset with the instrumental, “Landino.”
One of Latin America’s most prolific singer-songwriters, Marta Gómez sings over Andean flutes, pan pipes and percussion instruments on her original song, “Carnavaliando.” Gomez derives inspiration from Colombian bambucos, Argentine zambas, Chilean cuecas, Peruvian festejos and, in this case, Bolivian carnavalitos. Returning to its cultural roots, the widely celebrated Andean folk music ensemble Rumillajta performs a traditional Bolivian folk song. Named for its musical style, “El Sicuri” is performed by a pair of musicians simultaneously playing two siku pan pipes to create a singular melody. According to legend, after two siku players performed on the same song, the two became musically bonded and would play only together for the rest of their lives.
Music of the Andes features a regional recipe for Mazamorra de Quinoa, (Quinoa Pudding), a cousin of rice pudding flavored with cinnamon, lime and vanilla.
1% of Putumayo’s sales will be contributed to Whole Planet Foundation in support of their microcredit initiatives in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and around the world.