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ARTIST
TITLE
Mambo Loco
FORMAT
CD

LABEL
CATALOG #
AACD 067CD AACD 067CD
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
4/27/2010

Analog Africa moves its focus to another continent for release number 7: Mambo Loco is a compilation of tracks by Anibal Velasquez, the legendary accordionist from Barranquilla in Colombia. In fact, when not crate-digging in Africa, Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb can often be found in Colombia. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Rio Magdalena, lies the city of Barranquilla. Hailed by its locals as Colombia's "Puerto de Oro" (Golden Gate), Barranquilla has served as a gateway for "Caribbean Tropical Sounds" for almost a century. Home to the country's biggest cultural celebration, El Carnaval, and the birthplace of Colombia's radio and recording industry, Barranquilla has always been a city deeply rooted in musical traditions, and nobody embodies Barranquilla's rich musical heritage more than Anibal Velasquez. Known affectionately by his fans as "El Mago" (the Magician), Anibal has been one of the most prolific musicians of Colombia's Musica Tropical movement. Anibal was born into a musical family in Barranquilla in 1936. His father was an accomplished musician but his biggest influence was his older brother Juan who first introduced him to the secrets of the accordion. One of the turning points was a chance encounter with Robertico Roman, a musician from Cartagena. "It was with Robertico Roman that I formed my first band called Los Vallenatos de Magdalena. I made my first recording with that band in 1952. Four songs were recorded including a track called 'La Gallina,' which became a huge hit and really spread the costal sound toward the interior of the country." Unfortunately soon after, in 1955, band-mate Robertico died and Los Vallenatos de Magdalena had to disband. Without a band, Anibal was forced to take a job as a session musician for Barranquilla-based label Disco Eva working for a group called El Conjunto Colomboy. He remained with Disco Eva until the end of the 1950s, working closely with the great Costeno master Lucho Campillo. Then in 1960, Anibal formed a new group together with his elder brother Juan, a gifted musician in his own right, and his younger brother Jose who would soon become his right hand man, enabling Anibal to add a new dimension to his playing style. Jose himself began experimenting by incorporating new instruments and re-inventing old rhythms. He would break the rules and replaced the traditional bongos used in Cuban guaracha and rumba with a traditional Colombian drum called "La Caja" which he modified by adding "radiografias medicas" (x-ray film) over the drum. This -- combined with Anibal's powerful accordion -- was to become a sensation, generating a much harder and drier sound than the traditional leather skin drums. Anibal's new Guaracha style was infectious, fast and furious, often leading his crowds into a state of frenzy. The interest for Anibal's new innovative sound started growing and recording offers poured in. Anibal began to have an impressive amount of followers, drawing huge crowds wherever he went. By the mid-1960s, music in La Costa began to change drastically. With the onset of the hippie movement in the United States came a craving for marijuana, and Colombia's Caribbean Coast had become a main trafficking hub. A new economy of drugs had emerged and with it a musical style called Vallenato rose to prominence. Its distinct accordion sound and bluesy appeal made it a favorite among drug lords and mafiosos alike, becoming the soundtrack for their feverish life-styles. By the 1970s the level of violence in the coast had grown to unprecedented heights and Vallenato was everywhere. Fed up with this, Anibal decided to move to Caracas, Venezuela, where he remained for 18 years until finally returning back to his beloved Barranquilla in the late '80s. Anibal's contribution to Colombia's Musica Tropical Movement cannot be forgotten. It is said that Anibal Velasquez recorded 300 LPs throughout his remarkable career. His ability to play music that was joyful and percussive, with lyrics right out of everyday life, while at the same time championing a new sound, has made him into one of the few living legends of Colombia's glorious musical past. Includes a 24-page booklet.