Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, Un Fuego de Sangre Pura

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Old cumbia masters channel their inner Albert Ayler.

If you want to discover the deep roots of the cumbia, this is where you'll find it. From Colombia's Caribbean coast, Los Gaiteros keep the old tradition intact, stoking their “fire of pure blood” with gaita flutes, heavy percussion, maracas and raucous vocals. It's celebratory and ceremonial, as “Sigan Bailando” and “El Manolo” amply illustrate, performed with such energy and passion you'd never guess these musicians were the elders of the genre. Strongly folkloric, they're equally adept with other rhythms, like the puya and porro, although when the snaking horn launches on “El Millo Se Modernizó,” you'd swear Albert Ayler had stepped into the studio. There's a very primal power to the music, with the hypnotic quality of chanted singing above the drums and flutes. Not only do they bring Colombia's past alive, they make it a vital force in the present. Listen to this and it's easy to understand why they're revered in their homeland.