Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Afro Peru

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The Rough Guide to Afro Peru Review

by Chris Nickson

Really, the Luaka Bop label needs to be thanked for exposing listeners to Afro-Peruvian music. Their initial compilation let the world in on something beautiful, and paved the way for the international career of Susana Baca. Baca is here, of course, the leading light of a tradition she's helped explore not only musically, but also academically, through here Instituto Negrocontinuo. But she's only a fraction of the wonderfully rhythmic sound that mixes the music of Peru with that of its black inhabitants, whose roots are in the slaves brought from Africa, and who have tended to live in the coastal areas of the country. It's interesting, perhaps, that many of the featured singers here are female; not only Baca, but one of the grande dames of Afro-Peruvian music, Chabuca Granda (Baca's mentor), Eva Ayllon, Lucila Campos, and others. To be fair, the men do get it look-in here, with stars like the big man himself, Arturo "Zambo" Cavero, Manuel Donayre, and Roberto Rivas (whose track, "Arroz con Concolon," uses a shaker made from a donkey's jaw). It's all stunning music, ranging from the airy beauty of Baca's work to festive rhythmic workouts that can leave you sweating, and an excellent deeper dip into the well of Afro-Peruvian music.

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