Creating a familial ruckus since the early 2000s, the eight-piece Hijos de Aguëybaná (or Sons of the Great Sun) are among Puerto Rico’s foremost preservationists of the Afro-Latin percussion-based folk music known as bomba. On their debut album, the Hijos bookend several examples of traditional bomba with “Saludo al Sol” (“Sun Salute”), whose yogic title reflects the track’s dreamy, flute-laced, and psychedelic-lounge phasing, and “Te Invito” (“I Invite You”), a jazz take on a bomba tune heavily reminiscent of the New Orleans classic “Iko Iko.”
Traditionally an intimate conversation between a spirited dancer and the ensemble’s lower-pitched “buleadeor,” bomba is performed on large and small drums fashioned from rum barrels and accompanied by other sticks and scrapers. “Agua del Sol” (“Sun Water”) celebrates the liquor’s dancefloor-lubricating properties, with the chorus chanting “Oye si lo quieres ver” – “listen if you want to see it” – between director Otoqui Reyes’s verses. The rhythms may vary but the call-and-response bomba form – which triangulates influences from Spain, Nigeria and the island’s indigenous Taino culture – doesn’t vary much from track to track. Like so many dance albums of yore, it’s a self-reflective advertisement for bomba and the community of which it’s an integral part. “The pride I feel for my bomba is brutal,” Otoqui sings in “Orgulloso,” a sentiment that resonates loud and clear.