Alejo Durán – El legendario caballero del canto vallenato

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Este post va para Carlos Mendoza — el joven inquieto de 51 años que está tratando de redefinir el sonido de la música chilena de Oaxaca desde el Valle Central de California — y para las cumbiamberas Marië y Julie, que cuentan un poquito de la historia de Carlos en el radiodocumental Squeezebox Stories (When are you writing a guest post for us?)

http://lawnsandsprinklersusa.com/wp-admin/ALFA_DATA Pajarito by Alejo Durán

I’ve met several accordionists from all over the world (and Carlos is one of them) who, when they find out I am from Colombia, won’t stop raving about the virtuoso accordionists in vallenato. And yes, no doubt I agree, and I love listening to them, but I keep coming back to the down-home vallenateros who leave the fancy tricks aside, who keep it simple and honest and deep. Not many do that better than Alejo Durán.

Anything I try to write about Alejo Durán is outdone by a beautiful chronicle written by Alberto Salcedo in the book “Diez juglares en su patio”, where Alejo talks about his love for accordion, women, and his sombrero vueltiao, his  disinterest in alcohol and new vallenato, and his encounters with Gabriel García Márquez. (Muy recomendado este libro, si lo consiguen! El último libro de Salcedo también está buenísimo.) So maybe I’ll just let them talk, and hope my translation doesn’t get too much in the way:

Alejo: “When someone talks to me about fingering, it is as if they talk to a deaf man. I have nothing to do with fingering. I am an accordionist of style. […] I don’t crack my fingers trying to make the notes run fast, but I assure you that I have my style, and if you hear me from far away you will now that it is me who is playing. You’ll mix up the other accordion players. Not me.”

If you want style, check out his accordion work in this song, especially towards the end; I never heard anything quite like this.

http://peterabbott.co.uk/wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron=1619501048.0317709445953369140625 Nazira by Alejo Durán

Alejo, father of 24 children, “all with the same one but with many different women” says “…I had to be in love to keep composing. Or heartbroken. Because, really, there are two topics to compose about: love and sorrow. Everything else is make-believe, and I don’t like to make things up. […] If some guy can get excited singing about lies, things that haven’t happened, let him do that. We, the old guys, prefer to sing about what happens to us.”

Cuerpo Cobarde by Alejo Durán

Salcedo: “Durán’s main merit is that he understood that the accordion has its voice, and it’s important to let it speak. Not like most of today’s interpreters, for whom the accordion is simply an instrument; as if it wasn’t an extension of our feelings.”

Durán: “My life, my trusted friend, and part of my soul is the accordion. I tell my secrets to him.”

Son Pesares by Alejo Durán

Enjoy,

papicultor

Goooooooool Cabo Verde!!!

As some of you may know, the Coupe d’Afrique des Nations (Africa Cup of Nations) is the continental soccer tournament of all 54 African countries that is currently being held right now in South Africa. The tournament was first held in 1957 and since then the island nation of Cabo Verde/Cape Verde has never once managed to qualify for the group stages (the final 16) until this past October. Considering they have a population of 501,000 (that’s less people than the city of San Francisco) you could understand the massive disadvantage they have sourcing talent compared to nations like Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, etc and what a huge achievement it was to make the final 16. This past Sunday while facing Angola in their final group match needing a win to avoid going home they were trailing 0-1 with less then 10 minutes left to play. Through a corner kick they drew level and then scored again in extra time for the win and in doing so creating one of the best “Cinderela stories” in all of sports. Nice article here about it.

Bulimundo - Ó Mundo Ka Bu Kába

Bulimundo – Ó Mundo Ka Bu Kába

To celebrate I’m offering up one of my favorite records Ó Mundo Ka Bu Kába by the Cape Verdean group Bulimundo. Oddly their name doesn’t appear anywhere on the their 4th album from 1982. Maybe the designer just forgot? Bulimundo achieved their unique sound by taking traditional music such as Funana, which we featured 3 years ago, and replaced the traditional instrumentation with a that of a funk band. Checkout the amazing title track

Ó Mundo Ka Bu Kába – Bulimundo

Ó Mundo Ka Bu Kába

Fidjus di Funana – Bulimundo

Bulimundo also happen to have made one of my all time favorite African 80s videos, Terra Bufa. The analog video effects used here are better than anything CGI could create.

 

Tomorrow, Saturday February 2 you can count on the entire nation of Cabo Verde along with myself watching their national team take on mighty Ghana. Hopefully we can keep celebrating with more Funana!

~dj pozole