Various Artists – Smithsonian Folkways, Jibaro Hasta el Hueso: Mountain Music of Puerto Rico by Ecos de Borinquen

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The renowned revivalists of a genre of a music nearly 400 years old.

With its roots deep in the mountainous heart of Puerto Rico, música jíbara can date its history back to the 1600s. During the 20th century it almost died out, but the folk revival of the '60s brought it back to life. The excellent Ecos de Borinquen, the group featured here, has been one of this tradition's main guardians of the flame, with leader Miguel Santiago Díaz a true troubadour. It's sweet, gentle music, with Díaz and Karol Aurora de Jesús Reyes singing over the cuatro, guitar and percussion to create a rich, lyrical sound, whether on the quietly moving “La Loma Del Tamarindo” or the sprightlier “Mi Plena Felicidad,” with its thrilling cuatro solo. All too often the island has been in the long musical shadow of its Cuban neighbour, but as this album proves, Puerto Rico has its own identity, which it asserts with a great deal of pride. Lyrical and joyful, música jíbara is the Puerto Rican heart given glorious voice.