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Paranda

ParandaBy Jim Parisi


Nearly all music is a melting pot, a new image of its influences and predecessors. In Central America, Garifuna music is unique in that it is a blend of African and indigenous music without any influence from the European cultures that became dominant in all the Americas. The offspring of the indigenous Awarak tribe and African slaves who survived from two sinking slave ships, the Garifuna have always preferred an isolated existence. As these people enter the Twenty-first Century and near extinction, Ivan Duran and Stonetree Records in Belize have undergone painstaking labors to at least preserve the music by recording it. Likewise, a spin-off of Garifuna music came into existence around the middle of the seventeenth century when Spanish guitar and musical styles lent themselves as a variation on Garifuna music, and a style called Paranda was born.
Jaime Peligro Books and Music
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Blues Masters and Their Students

By Jim Parisi

PutuRythmSince its inception eighteen years ago, Putumayo Music has blazed a reputation for being outside the box. These are the guys who invented the term “World Music”, offering compilation discs of music by musicians from the same country or region or from all over the globe, playing a similar style of music. With more than one hundred albums under their belt, Putumayo has now endeavored into a new genre (for them), entitled simply “Rhythm and Blues”. The album is a collection of classic R&B songs performed alternately by legends and by novices, rising stars of the current R&B revival. And the formula works like a charm.

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Romulo Castro Unveils His Heritage

Romulo, Herencia

Romulo Castro, Herencia

By Jim Parisi

Although he was born in Mexico, Romulo Castro’s parents are Panamanian and he was raised in Cuba. He “came home” to Panama in the late Seventies but his collage of musical tastes had already been firmly put into place, both in his ears and in his soul. That multi-cultural embrace comes across strongly in his album “Herencia”, which he recorded with his nine piece band, Tuira. The CD is a blend of bossa nova, samba, rock and Panamanian folkloric music, all with a pronounced Caribbean backbone. His band is comprised of guitars and bass, keyboards and horns and an array of indigenous percussion. If this sounds like a potpourri, it is, but it is also anything but garbled. “Herencia” is Castro’s fourth CD and the twelve selections arrive like individual entrees rather than a mixed stew.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Overnight Success in Just a Decade

Lucho CalaveraBy Jim Parisi

Lucho Calavera and his band La Canalla recorded their entire debut album “Ni Pa’ Que Te Cuento” in the Papaya Music Studio in Alajuela in just two and a half months, an incredible, very efficient accomplishment. Then they spent nearly a year crafting and polishing their model. A band that has a reputation for enjoying themselves onstage, including live dancers as part of their entourage, became very serious in the studio, expanding the band from five players to nine, to include more percussion and a horn section, further indication of the scope of their vision. That vision is initiated by singer/songwriter Lucho Calavera, the altered ego of Luis Arena, who has been in the Costa Rica music scene for some time. He recorded two albums in the late Nineties with El Parque, the second CD on the Sony Music Label. They were the first Costa Rican band to air a video on MTV Latino. He then went solo, working on projects with other local bands, most notably Evolucion. He also sat in with Soda Stereo, a popular band from Argentina. Arena then relocated to Madrid, evolving musical influences and his pseudonym, with gypsy bravado wrapped around it.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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New Reggae Night in Costa Rica

By Jim Parisi

Reggae music has become a global phenomenon, cast into public awareness forty years ago by musicians like Johnny Nash, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. But the music remains Caribbean in temperament.

In 1995, the young Costa Rican music label Papaya Music released “Costa Rica Reggae Night”, an excellent compilation of authentic Reggae music from the Caribbean coast of this country. It is a compilation of thirteen songs from well known Costa Rican bands, both past and present; it was a kind of history of notable reggae bands from this area. The album has been a big hit, selling more than fifteen thousand copies in just ten years, a remarkable feat for an independent Central American label.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Lucky Thirteen for Costa Norte

Costa NorteBy Jim Parisi

Max Urso is a busy guy, a tireless visionary. He started his recording studio and label, Costa Norte Records, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in 1998, after hearing a rough cassette tape of Honduran singer/songwriter Guillermo Anderson performing and perceived a real need for a recording studio in the country. Both Guillermo and Garifuna singer Aurelio Martinez were recently included in the Central American Music Box CD, a compilation album demonstrating the musical diversity of this region. It is an accomplishment that all three of them are very proud about and happy to be a part of.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Hay Niños Aqui!

malpais ninos aquiBy Jim Parisi

In a career that is approaching a decade, Malpais has become one of the most popular bands in Costa Rica. Their appeal, like the band, kept growing. And I think this is one thing that adds to their popularity: they continually expand the realm of their influences. Malpais has gained the affection of their continually growing audience because they never forgot their roots. Their songs are snapshots, histories, reflections and all human and tangible. The new album “Hay Niños Aqui” keeps them on both roads of staying grounded, while spreading out.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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The Kids Come First

Fundacion EditusBy Jim Parisi

Musicians throughout the world have a good reputation for giving back to the community, especially to the next generation, the children, and Central America is no exception. Costa Rica’s three-time Grammy Award winners Editus are a good example. They have recorded twelve albums in their seventeen years together as a group and in an effort to give back to the community, they founded their Acadamie de las Artes in San Jose, Costa Rica in November 2004. It is a modern conservatory that integrates diverse elements of artistic development, not only for music but for dance, literature, theater, painting and photography as well. The music classes they offer are incredibly staffed and diverse, with three drum and percussion instructors, six teachers specializing in voice, lyrics and songwriting, four electric guitarists, six acoustic guitar instructors, two violinists, a cellist, five pianists, one saxophone teacher and a bass guitar instructor. Not surprisingly, some of the current teachers are former students, a sure sign of the Acadamie’s success. The academy also offers a sound lab to teach engineering, mixing, mastering, even DJ sampling. And there is a chorale group who performs a minimum of twice a year with selections as varied as Gospel and spiritual, Rock and Pop, Costa Rican and Latin American songs, in an effort to create a completely diverse chorus.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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The Sky Is Burning!

sequemaBy Jim Parisi

The alarms sounded some decades past about diminishing rainforests and the worldwide implications, but dry rainforests were overlooked. In his new documentary “Se Quema El Cielo”, Luciano Capelli waves the banner for all to see. The film focuses on the plight of the Guanacaste tropical dry forest, documenting the struggle to preserve over three hundred thousand species of life. One method is to recreate the natural habitat in the area, from the Pacific coastline to the chain of volcanoes Rincon de la Vieja and Orosi, covering lowlands and highlands. Much of this area was pastureland for centuries. One major problem rose when the cattle were removed around 1977 leaving non-indigenous grasses that were planted as feed to squeeze out local plant life. This is how a downhill chain begins because once the native plants disappear, so does the wildlife that depends on them. Without natural enemies, the grasses took over, dried out and became kindling for natural fires due to lightning, controlled fires, mismanaged campfires and even fires set as arson. Historic winds also play a major role.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Maicol Leroy’s San Juanillo

maicol leroyBy Jim Parisi

Make no mistake about it, Maicol Leroy has been Ticoized. Don’t get me wrong, I mean this as a compliment and I know he would be the first one to consider it as such. Hey, the guy has even Latinized his name… Sr. Leroy has been coming to Guanacaste for nearly a quarter of a century and living here for almost two decades. He has been playing guitar and harp since well before puberty. Take these two components, mix in a little stage experience, an early exposure to the blues and great songwriting ability and voila: you’ve got the new self-produced album “San Juanillo” by Maicol Leroy.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Measuring a Musician’s Success

gamboa book & cdBy Jim Parisi

To become a commercial success, a musician needs to have talent. But in the formula for success, a little luck and timing have to be factored into the equation. Still, there have been many very talented troubadours who have been in the right place at the right time and did not catch the train to fame. Usually, it’s because they overslept or “spaced out” and forgot all about it. And herein lays the key to fame and fortune: good management. Of all the musicians I have met, the successful ones have a dependable manager, usually a spouse or family member, taking them by the hand to catch the plane to Boston for a gig or to the dining table because it is time for lunch. Musicians live in a different dimension than the rest of us and that is one of the reasons we love them: they have a unique perspective and are able to articulate it, through poignant lyrics, blazing guitar riffs and amazing drum flurries that touch our souls.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Estampas de Abril y Mayo

abril y mayoBy Jim Parisi

Manuel Obregon is an incredible pianist and an incorrigible musicologist who has definitely found his calling in life and is now reveling in it. Even before he helped form the Central American music label Papaya Music, he showed signs of his calling when he became enamored by the music of Paraguayan guitarist Augustin Barrios Mangore’ and transcribed and interpreted the compositions to piano. Along with being a member of Malpais, arguably the most popular band in Costa Rica, playing original tunes in a new style I have dubbed “modern folkloric”, Obregon also commandeers the Orquesta de Papaya, a culmination of musicians and musical styles from all of Central America. His last recorded project, “Piano Malango” was a unique presentation of instrumental interpretations, meandering down the river of historic and famous Costa Rican, Nicaraguan and Panamanian songs.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Party, Latin Style

Latin PartyBy Jim Parisi

When it comes to parties, no one does it better than people of the Latin culture. Spirits are high and conversations are animated, but best of all, the food is always delectable and the music upbeat and very danceable. None of these factors has was lost on Putumayo Music when they released their new album, appropriately titled “Latin Party”, a compilation of twelve modern, up-tempo songs from a varied reach of Latin regions and influences. Latin people are very proud of their heritage and I think this CD demonstrates how new musicians pay homage to their musical Latino roots, while putting their own spin on it.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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A Functional Field Guide

Wildlife of Costa RicaBy Jim Parisi

Be suspicious when someone tells you that size doesn’t matter. On the contrary, when it comes to field guides, for example, the size of the book is a determining factor toward how well it will serve the customer. For example there are several beautiful coffee table books whose subject matter is the wildlife of Costa Rica. But I wouldn’t want to treat that book like a field guide, put it in my backpack and go into the jungle in search of its subject matter. Likewise, there are pocket guides that provide concise snapshots of the most common species of wildlife in Costa Rica, concise being the operative word. Pocket guides are handy but are limited and compact in their information as well.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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Rainforests of Costa Rica and Beyond

RainforestsBy Jim Parisi

Did you know that frogs don’t drink water? It’s true: instead of lapping it up with their tongues in the conventional sense like a dog or a cat, frogs absorb water through their skin. I learned this bit of interesting information, and a lot more, when I recently read Adrian Forsyth’s new book, “Rainforests – Costa Rica and Beyond”. Forsyth, and award winning author and biologist, is definitely at home in the rainforest, drawing on more than forty years of experience as reference to present this publication. And it is some impressive experience that Adrian brings to the table: Vice President of the Blue Moon Fund, Director of Biodiversity Science for the Andean/Amazon Foundation, a PhD from Harvard in tropical ecology, Vice President of Conservation International, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institute, and the list goes on from there. Forsyth is also the author of at least five books ensconced in ecology, including the eye-catching title, “The Natural History of Sex”.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

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