Petrona Martínez Ancestras
Chaco World Music (ChacoWorldMusic.com)
Review by Michael Stone
[Son Palenque-Rumba Pacifica)
Colombia's Caribbean coast zone has historically been a refuge for African captives who fled slavery to create palenque communities of maroon resistance. Octogenarian singer Petrona Martínez is a renowned bearer of the polyrhythmic, call-and-response Afro-Colombian bullerengue tradition, a singular female folkdance and song genre. Remarkably, it was only at age fifty that Martínez gained recognition outside her home region, after her first recording materialized in 1989. Such massively popular Colombian artists as Bomba Estéreo, Aterciopelados, and Carlos Vives cite Martínez as a foundational influence.
"Ay Mi Gallina" (Afrobeat-Chalupa)
with Angelique Kidjo
Of the 18 tracks, three are spoken philosophical reflections by Martínez (in Spanish) on her life and music, and ten are her originals in the bullerengue, chalupa, fandango, and son palenque genres. Guests include Peru's Susana Baca ("El Niño Roncón," a bullerengue-chalupiao, video below), Cuba's Aymée Nuviola ("El Piano de Dolores y Estefanía," a rumba), Benin's Angélique Kidjo ("Ay Mi Gallina," an Afrobeat-chalupa), Mexico's Mariachi Flor de Toloache ("Niño Carabalí," a brassy bullerengue-mariachi, with Garifuna percussion from Honduras), Brazil's Xênia França ("Mejor Que Me Mate Dios," a bullerengue-sentao)," and New York's Brianna Thomas ("La Cantadora," a bullerengue-jazz improvisation).
"(Ni)ño Carabali" [Bullerengue-Mariachi]
with Flor de Toloache
With Ancestras, Martínez pays vivid homage to her own culturally vital matriarchal lineage; to the women of the transatlantic African Diaspora more broadly; and to her artistic compatriots, whom she affectionately refers to as "petronistas." For her this sisterhood of commanding singers mix, match, and interweave their diverse traditions as the future ancestors of an egalitarian multicultural world to come, one given voice and indomitable spirit through the music they conjure together in the quotidian struggle of the here and now.