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2.¿Pa’ dónde vas Marioneta? ¿Pa’ dónde va la gaita? La Cumbiamba Eneyé Returns to San Jacinto Before leaving for San Jacinto to compete in the 17th Festival Nacional Autóctono de Gaitas, Martín Vejarano and La Cumbiamba Eneyé (lce) performed at The Rose, a small club in the hipster enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which for the past few years has regularly featured artists involved with the local Nueva Colombia music scene.1 What marked this event as special, however , was the presence and participation of Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, the most recognized and highly influential conjunto de gaita from Colombia. As acknowledged bearers of the gaita tradition, a music genre inextricably linked to cumbia, Los Gaiteros have for more than five generations been its foremost practitioners, traveling internationally and bringing traditional folk musics such as gaita, porro, puya, and cumbia—the ritmos (or styles) that constitute the gaita tradition—to audiences worldwide. Scheduled to perform at Queens Theater in the Park in Flushing-­ Meadows the following day, five members from Los Gaiteros were present: Juan Fernández “Chuchita” Polo, Manuel Antonio “Toño” García, Gabriel Torregrosa, Dionysio Yepes, and Freddys Arrieta. Juan Nicolás Hernández, the senior leader of the renowned conjunto de gaita, did not travel to New York this time, due to recent health issues. In fact, except for special occasions, he rarely performs with Los Gaiteros these days. Vejarano, announcing that it was going to be a special night because the maestros—their musical mentors, from whom they learned everything— were present, opened lce’s set with a gaita corrida, an instrumental piece whose rhythmic base is closelyaligned with cumbia. In her notes accompanying the 2007 Latin Grammy Award–winning recording Un Fuego de Sangre Pura (A Fire of Pure Blood), Ana María Ochoa writes of Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, “Through their own new compositions and through teaching young musicians, they are a crucial link between traditional gaita music and its conJorge Arévalo Mateus with Martín Vejarano 50 Jorge Arévalo Mateus temporary renewal.”2 In honor of their special guests, lce played their own version of the opening song from the Los Gaiteros cd, “Fuego de Cumbia” (Cumbia Fire). After performing several songs from their own repertoire— for example, Sebastian Cruz’s composition “Marioneta,” the title track and name of lce’s first release—Vejarano invited members of Los Gaiteros to perform with them on the small, dimly lit stage. Prototypically, “Chuchita,” the cantador (voice or lead vocalist) began by reciting a décima as members of Los Gaiteros gradually replaced lce musicians on gaita macho and hembra (male and female flutes) and tambor alegre (lead drum), while core members remained on tambora (or bombo, bass drum), llamador (timeline drum), and coro (vocal chorus). Together, as they played mostly slower tempo Afro-­ Colombian bullerengues as well as cumbias and gaitas, the paired gaitas were heard perceptibly clearer and the distinctively close musical interplay between the tambor alegre and gaita hembra was markedly evident on classic gaitas, cumbias, and porros, such as the ubiquitous “Campo Alegre.” Indeed the performance demonstrated a rare example of master musicians and students performing traditional Colombian music together, sharing a stage in front of a mixed audience of Colombians, other Latinos, and New Yorkers of all kinds. After several songs from the combined ensemble—by which point dancers had overtaken the floor—lce regulars returned to close out the set.3 The presence of Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto had clearly inspired lce, motivating them to continue the performance with a renewed dynamic vigor. Whereas previously they had played confidently and efficiently, after playing with the masters they exhibited increased intensity that figuratively borrowed from the Smithsonian Folkways title un fuego de sangre pura. Significantly in an urban setting, lce’s material tends toward faster gaita corrida and puya uptempo songs, undoubtedly to appeal to young urbanites wanting to dance. Demonstrating careful selection of audience-­ appropriate music and its interpretation, lce’s repertoire clearly leans toward the more traditional or authentic side of contemporary gaita/cumbia praxis, or its close approximation.Whether this was solely due to the presence of the masters or to present gaita “authenticity” in practice, the audience responded appreciatively , dancing, clapping, and singing choruses throughout the set. Like their San Jacinto musical mentors, lce demonstrates what Gil Olivera regards as central qualities of Sanjacintero musicians; that is, they exhibit “natural musicians[hip] dispatched with a tremendous force...


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