Monday, May 14, 2012

In review--Music of the Atlantic Diaspora

Pancho Alvarez
Sonche Atlántico

My sister introduced me to Galicia, a Spanish province, over a decade ago when she loaned me her copy of Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage, but Angel Romero, Founder of World Music Central, introduced me to Galician music several years ago.  When many people think of Spanish music they think of flamenco or gypsy music.  I have not met many people outside of music journalism and world music audiences who even realize the diversity of musical traditions hailing from Spain’s provinces.  For instance, in Asturias and Galicia, bagpipes and large frame drums are prominent, but so are various types of lutes, accordions, strings, and instruments from other folkloric traditions.  The music ranges from jaunty sends-ups to haunting ballads.  At times, music of northwest Spain resembles other Celtic music of Scotland and Ireland.

Multi-instrumentalist Pancho Alvarez features mostly original compositions on Sonche Atlàntico, and similar to Galician musician Uxia, this musician prefers to spice up his songs with influences from Africa (North mainly), Portugal, Brittany while also including inspiration from South America.  Alvarez performs most of the instruments on this album which include: violin, viola, guitars, accordion, viola de gamba, Venezuelan cuatro, hurdy-gurdy, bass, percussion, bouzouki while coming off as a one-man orchestra.  He handles most of the vocals too with Maria Solleiro pitching in vocals on the bouncy A Cantiga da Segada de Miranda.  Danceable songs such as, A Camposa and the Arabic-tinged Rumba de Alì appear along side, misty-eyed songs, (Galicia Malicia).

Hispanic listeners not familiar with Spain’s Gallego dialect might feel lost while following the text, but anyone looking for an authentic Spanish folkloric experience will feel at home with this album portraying the Atlantic Diaspora.

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