Top Colombian salsa band eyes Bollywood

July 31st, 2010 - 2:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) The Colombian salsa melody, an energetic version of traditional Cuban, Puerto Rican, Caribbean and American dance music with African influences, may soon find its way into Bollywood if popular Colombian Salsa band ‘La 33′ has its way.

“You may see some surprises later this year in Bollywood. We invited music producers from Mumbai to our concert in the capital Friday. We are hoping to enter into a collaboration with them. I will divulge the details once the partnership sees the light of day. Salsa shares many similarities with contemporary Bollywood music that makes the scope of fusion feasible,” David Fernandes, percussionist of ‘LA 33′, told IANS.

‘LA 33′, one of the top five Salsa bands in Colombia, performed a combination of foot-tapping Salsa Dura of New York, the Caribbean Salsa, jazz and traditional Colombian folk at the Mavalankar Stadium here Friday evening.

The concert was presented by the Embassy of Colombia and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to mark 200 years of Colombian Independence.

“India is exciting. We are here for the first time,” vocalist Guillaermo Leon said.

The band formed in 2000 shot to fame with its Salsa Dura hit single “La Pantera Mambo” from their debut album “La-33″ in 2004 that was the theme song of movie “The Pink Panther”.

Last year, the band released its third album “Ten Cuidado” that features a track, “Roxanne”, arranged with The Police.

The 12-member ‘La-33′ plays the 1970s style jazz-oriented salsa with base instruments like timbale drums, bongo ceros, congas, trombone, cowbells, cymbals, saxophone and guitar.

“Salsa music is very popular around the world as well as in many cities of India. It is easy to identify with the music because salsa has several influences like the jazz and island folk. What started as immigrant music in New York by the Cuban and Puerto Rican migrants and later jazz came back to Colombia in the eighties to assimilate from local folk and lean on jazz,” Fernandes said.

The band was named after a street Calle 33, where the founders of the band, Sergio and Santiago Mejia, lived.

It is described as the first major ensemble to come out of the Colombian capital Bogota after the Salsa music action moved to Bogota from Cali, a tourist town that was known as the salsa capital.

Bogota now boasts of over 50 small and big night clubs with 20 salsa bands. The country has nearly 100 bands.

“The genre of Salsa music popular in Colombia is traditionally a fusion of a Cuban Guaguanco, a complex folk rhythmic music and dance style, and the Bomba, an African style beat music from Puerto Rico,” Fernandes said.

Salsa, as the name suggests, is “something that contains many things - more like a romantic fling”, Fernandes said. “Both salsa music and dance represent the colonial society; speaking of love, break-up, social issues and people,” he said.

In Colombia, music and dance are integral to life. “Salsa is just one of the music genres. The genres keep changing coast to coast and in the regions straddling the mountains in the middle of the country. Bands are known to play salsa pop and electronica with traditional Caribbean music,” he said.

The variants of Colombian folk music include Cumbia, a mixture of native Spanish and African music, salsa, Champeta or the African diasporic music, Porro, European military music and Vallenato, a music from the country’s Atlantic coast.

“Five Colombian bands with independent labels are touring the world this year,” Fernandes said.

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