ANDY PALACIO & THE GARIFUNA COLLECTIVE
ANDY PALACIO & THE GARIFUNA COLLECTIVE
Andy Palacio passed away on January 19th 2008.
Official Press Release
The review below was written before Andy Palacio's death.
Concentrated in Caribbean Central America, the Garifuna people came into being as a rebel maroon population of Amerindians united with Africans escaped from slavery. Formerly known as the Black Carib, they fiercely resisted European incursions on their native St. Vincent until overcome by English forces in 1797. Deported en masse to the Bay Islands of Honduras, the Garifuna quickly populated the sparsely inhabited coast south into Nicaragua, and north into Guatemala and Belize.
Garifuna music, dance, and ritual expression thus embody a protracted historical process of struggle against powerful external influences.
Their artistry reflects familiar West African aesthetic values: active performer-audience engagement via dance and call-and-response singing, virtuoso individual display, narratives of cultural pride and group survival, critical social commentary, and spiritual communion with the ancestors. An unplugged style wherein the human voice and percussion reign supreme, Garifuna music will resonate particularly for those familiar with the Afro-Cuban spirit-possession cults, Haitian vodoun, various manifestations of Caribbean jankunu (John Canoe), the nyabinghi precedents of Jamaican Rastafari, and the sundry African-inflected spiritual practices of Brazil. Performed in secular and sacred settings alike, theirs is a powerfully expressive music, and the Garifuna Collective is its most compelling contemporary interpreter. Led by singer Andy Palacio (who holds a prominent post in the Belize government's National Institute Of Culture & History), the Collective also calls on gifted singer Aurelio Martínez (heard on Stonetree's recent Garifuna Soul, and coincidentally, an elected representative in the national assembly of Honduras), Belizean singer Adrian Martínez (his sublime composition Baba, heard here, has become a Garifuna anthem), and the sly, septuagenarian Belizean singer Paul Nabor (heard on Stonetree's 1999 release, Paranda). Rounding out the ensemble are acoustic and electric guitars, saxophone, electric bass, and an array of Garifuna drums and Afro-Latin percussion.
Wátina was logged over several months in a beachfront cottage, calling artists from Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. Producer Ivan Duran - who studied music in Mexico, Spain and Cuba - has an impeccable touch, documenting performances whose deceptive simplicity is deeply evocative and wonderfully difficult to place for those who like their sonic categories neat and clearly defined. Honduran Guayo Cedeño is one tasteful lead guitarist. A hint of Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler notwithstanding, Cedeño is nobody's clone, and his every meaningful note gives the singers all the architecture they need to craft the singular collective sound. Meanwhile the backline can hold its own with the best of Afro-Caribbean rhythm sections. The ease and palpable joy of the ensemble work lay a solid, complementary, stripped-down foundation for the plaintive, passionate voices at the heart of Wátina, quite unlike any other strain of African diaspora song. As good as this recording is - an immediate world-music classic, says one not given to superlatives - the greater wonder is to encounter these artists in person and savour the exhilaration of their live performance, a rare privilege that fortunate European and US audiences will enjoy during spring and summer 2007. A promise, absolutely not to be missed.
UK distribution by Pinnacle.
Michael Stone (review from fRoots 286, April 2007)
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:
Melvin A Flores
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