Although its native music is not as well known outside of its borders as that of Brazil, Colombia, the fourth largest country in South America, hosts a wide array of folkloric styles (cumbia, vallenato, bambuco, and others) that reflect its potpourri of subcultures. La Cumbiamba eNeYé's core members are New York-based Colombian transplants who draw from and expand upon that nation's varied rural and coastal traditions, fusing it all together into a new entity. The 11-piece band utilizes an array of brass/wind, percussion, and electric instruments -- including several endemic to Colombia -- to stir up a perennial party-in-the-streets atmosphere that flirts with, but never totally embraces, salsa, jazz, and Afro-Cuban elements. The tracks that make the greatest sonic and emotional impact, though, are the minimalist, rawer slices of hybridized local music. The title track, "Marioneta," "Encarnación," and several others rely on drum power and airy gaita flutes to re-create the soul of the streets, while "Marimbita 'e Chonta" brings a marimba up front to provide coloring for Nilko Andreas Guarin's vocal. "Descsderada," on the other hand, finds a home somewhere between New Orleans marching band and Cuban son that's irresistible in every way.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin