Chocolate — Peru's Master Percussionist (Perspectives on Afro-Peruvian Music. The Collection)
(Buh Records BR106, 1990/2019, CD / LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-09-16
The full title includes the subtitle (Perspectives on Afro-Peruvian Music. The Collection), and was originally released on the New York-based label Lyrichord way back when it was recorded in 1991. Julio "Chocolate" Algendones was one of the essential percussionists in the tradition of Afro-Peruvian music, and recorded this set in Las Vegas at the same time his band Perujazz was there touring. A bit of history: African slaves were brought to the Spanish colony of Peru in the 1500s to work the gold and silver mines high in the Andes. Their bodies were not well suited to survive in such high altitudes and they died by the hundreds. Their Spanish or Criollo (born in Peru of Spanish decent) masters sent them down to lower elevations to work in the large private farms, in the milder climate of the desert coast. There, in small adobe huts, on the packed dirt floors of the courtyards overrun with animals and in the fields of cotton and sugarcane that Afro-Peruvian music, song, and dance were born and flourished. The first side of the LP (it’s available on CD also) opens with “Un Niño en Tiempo,” an introductory piece which is played solo on cajon (an instrument thought to have originated in Peru, although Cubans also claim it originated there) and over the course of almost four minutes Chocolate explores the instrument’s many voices. Following on, the fourteen minute-plus “Conga Forte, Rico Cajon” is what the title sounds like – another solo piece, this time involving both congas and cajon; if this piece is not overdubbed, it truly displays the amazing magnitude of Chocolate’s percussive prowess, and either way illustrates his creative skill and compositional savvy, offering what amounts to a hypnotic trance-inducing meditation. Side B opens with the fifteen minute “Añi-Añi Manola,” a powerful seemingly African ceremonial piece where Chocolate plays congas and seeds, and two other musicians join: Manola on congas, and Makelah on kalimba, the latter coming in around the halfway mark, truly changing the form of the journey. The closer, “Un Tych,” still predominantly an expressive piece played by Chocolate on congas, bongos and talking drum, it features the other members of Perujazz (Manongo Mujica on drums and bowed cymbal, saxophonist Jean Pierre Magnet, and bassist David Pinto) joining in the closing minutes for a powerful and surprising conclusion. Listeners who appreciate extended pieces for percussion will find much to enjoy herein.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more