Ritmo De Negros is the first solo release in Network's 'Música Negra In The Americas' series. The music of Afro-Peruvian singer and band leader Pepe Vasquez will be familiar to fans of Susana Baca, who has recorded several of his signature pieces. Vasquez's powerful voice conveys the dynamism of a musical tradition stretching back to the sixteenth-century inauguration of African slavery along Peru's Pacific coast. Spanish authorities suppressed African drumming and marimba music, but the enslaved resisted. They invented new instruments while mastering Spanish forms in order to express their aesthetic and political sensibilities: thus elaborating the fiercely percussive character of what became the festejo and lando styles. Festejo recalls the acrobatic musical competition of Brazilian capoeira (as with the title track), while lando represents a melding of African and Spanish influences in ballad form (e.g., "No Valentín" and "Zamba Malató"). Conservatory trained and steeped in Afro-Peruvian folklore, Vasquez combines his many influences with an unerring salsa feel. Vasquez's feverish style makes his music requisite covers for Peruvian groups of all callings, and now his work promises to find a new international following. - Michael Stone
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