Diana Baroni and Sapukái - Son de los Diablos
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cd cover Diana Baroni w/Sapukái
Son de los Diablos
Alpha (www.alpha-prod.com)

Subtitled "Afro-Hispanic tonadas of Peru," this disc puts a contemporary spin on music from an eighteenth-century manuscript. Spanish bishop Don Baltasar Jaime Martinez Compańón lived among Peruvian Indians in the late 1700's. He compiled a library of manuscripts on subjects as diverse as botany, architecture, games, rituals, and of course, music and dance of the area. Illustrated by Compańón himself, the texts show the colorful feathered costumes, masks, and musical instruments used in the rituals.

With exploration, conquest, and slave trade, native, Spanish, and African cultures had been clashing and mixing in the area for centuries before Compańón's arrival. The music reflected this sometimes uneasy blend. Graceful native melodies were accompanied by guitar and viheula; dances were driven by polyrhythmic drumming. Sapukái's take on this multi-hued music is one of gentle insistence. Baroni has a genial, slightly jazzy tinge to her voice. The all acoustic accompaniment includes harp, flutes, charango, guitar, and lots of colorful percussion. Though the instrumentation is traditional in tone, the arrangements elevate the simple songs to the level of art music, yet without sacrificing the songs' joyous spirit. Extended introductions, changes in tempo and texture, and skilled solos make this simple music sparkle.

The lyrics are poetic and evocative. The lovely "Tonada La Selosa" contains the wistful lines "When sorrow meets understanding/In the depths of one's being, /A sigh is the sound/That results from the encounter." In contrast, the Carlos Soto de la Colina composition, "No, Valentin" has a dark, sinister edge to it, with cracking percussion illustrating the beating taken by the subject of the song.

Subtle yet spirited, Son de los Diablos serves up new rewards with each listening. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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