Aurelio Martínez Garifuna Soul
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Aurelio Martínez
Garifuna Soul
Stonetree Records (www.stonetreerecords.com)

cd cover With its dense percussive array and emphasis on vocal artistry, the African-Amerindian music of the Garifuna people is quite unlike any other genre in Central America (or the rest of the Caribbean, Latin America or West Africa, for that matter). Although Garifuna musicians began taking their music north to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other U.S. urban centers as part of an emigration process that began in the late 1940s, a sole field recording made in the early 1950s was long it only recorded documentation. The past 15 years or so has produced a number of new recordings on small labels, but Garifuna music continues to fly under the radar of many who fancy themselves fans of world music.

Listen!
Garifuna singer, composer and guitarist Aurelio Martínez grew up in a small fishing village on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, taking up his father's guitar, apprenticing as a sacred dugú drummer, and learning the traditional repertoire from his grandmother, a talented singer. He moved in his late teens to the port of La Ceiba, where he formed the noted Garifuna ensemble Lita Ariran. A veteran of tours in Europe, Japan, Central America, Mexico and the United States, Martínez brings a bittersweet vocal style to the guitar-accompanied paranda ballad and other traditional Garifuna song forms. Previously heard on Songs of the Garifuna (JVC) and the critically acclaimed Paranda: Africa in Central America (Stonetree), Martínez, one of the youngest paranda interpreters, is recognized among Garifuna at home and abroad as a soulful, powerfully evocative singer.

Garifuna Soul, Martínez's solo debut album, recently captured the attention of AfroPop Worldwide, which named him newcomer of the year. Backed by some of Belize's best studio musicians, who improvise adeptly on Garifuna percussion, saxophone, electric and bass guitars, Martínez takes the music into the future without compromising the cultural foundations of his inspiration. No hype or derivative artifice here, just contemporary roots music true to its hybrid cultural origins, untainted by the misrepresentations and commercial excess that characterize so much of what's on offer in the global music souk these days.-Michael Stone

CD available from cdRoots


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