Victoria Santa Cruz

I was listening to last week’s Pelanga En La Sala, where we shared a few tracks that we picked up at Oakland’s record swap in November, and there is one more track I’d really like to share.

Trying to stay within a budget, you have to limit yourself to just a few pricier records, and then go take some risks off of the dollar bins. During the podcast we gave the best-one-dollar-record award to Jacobo, for a cosmic trip of a track: “Sagitario” by Chico Che y La Crisis. Very well deserved, no doubt, but can I show you my contender?

I’ve long been a fan of Afro-Peruvian music, and I didn’t think twice when I saw a compilation of marineras, festejos, landós, and zamacuecas in Adam‘s bargain bin. The record featured some of the usual suspects, but also several musicians I never heard of — just what I look for in a $1 gamble. It turned out to be a great record all around, and the last track, a zamacueca by the incredible Victoria Santa Cruz, was the surprise treat for me.

NEGATIVO DIGITALIZADO EL 07 DE DICIEMBRE 2006

(foto: El Comercio)

Victoria Santa Cruz has been called the mother of Afro-Peruvian culture; I knew her as a dancer / scholar / performer / folklorista / badass. But I didn’t know she recorded some albums too, and there’s a track of hers on this compilation. And I don’t know what it is, but this song just fucking kills me!

Every now and then I’ll find what I think are the best five seconds of music in history (the Miles Davis Quintet handing “‘Round Midnight” to Coltrane for his solo, the entrance to “Quitate De Mi Escalera” by Grupo Socavón, Jorge Millet’s filthy piano solo on Orquesta Mundo’s “Mamacita”, Andrés Landero’s bassist trying to sound like a turkey on “La Pava Congona”…). DJ China Tu Madre will tell you that I exaggerate all the time, but I don’t. At least not at those times. And right now, that’s how I feel about the moment when Victoria Santa Cruz gathers everyone together to close this track.

 

This song is the soundtrack to a straight-up dance battle, and our only regret should be not being able to watch it. Instead, I’ll leave you with this:

 

 

Victoria Santa Cruz passed away in August, at age 91. Que descanse en paz. If you’re in the Bay Area, you may be interested in a tribute that the Mission Cultural Center will host next Monday:

http://www.missionculturalcenter.org/events.html#DeVueltaAlCallejon

Enjoy,

papicultor

One thought on “Victoria Santa Cruz

  1. $1??? Ok, I think we may need to reconsider the final verdict on the $1 record challenge winner, especially when you take in the consideration the cultural significance of such an inspiring trail blazing woman as Victoria Santa Cruz. Man that was beautiful! Thank you for sharing this—I really want to find more of her recordings now. This also sparked an idea for me. How about an International Women’s Day mix?

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