Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

8

Changüí Majadero: El Changüí Majadero

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
The traditional changüí musical style originated in the eastern side of Cuba, specifically the Baracoa section of Guantanamo Province. It was developed by the fusion of Spanish guitar melodies with African derived rhythms, and is the foundation for the Cuban son, which led directly to guaguanco, and salsa. Changüí Majadero is an adventurous ensemble which is reintroducing changüí to a new generation on El Changüí Majadero; taking it from Cuba to California and adding their own blend of syncopated flavors.

This group was formed as a labor of love by Gabriel Garcia, who plays the Cuban tres (three sets of strings—tuned to same pitch) and sings. After Garcia became infatuated by the infectious changüí sound, he traveled to Guantanamo to learn firsthand from the masters how to replicate the distinctive melodic nuances on the tres. Bassist Yosmel Montejo is a native Cuban, so he has the innate sense of channeling the harmony which hold the arrangements together. Vocalist Norell Thompson, is Puerto Rican, and experienced in the proper phrasing and emotions required to sing changüí. The band is rounded out by the Ortiz brothers, Alfred on maracas and vocals, and George on the bongos.

"Me La Llevo Al Megoton," displays the characteristic emphasis on the downbeat, the tempo driven by the maracas and bongos, and by the scratchy guayo, supplied by Eddy Ortiz. Thompson shines on the vocals which lead to a call and response section typical of most changüí songs. There is a cross reference to Santeria in the lyrics of "Mayumbero," and "Nengon," is the precursor to changüí, the beat played in straight quarter notes, for a throwback African tempo.

The campesino (country) music influence highlights "Soy Campesino," and "Digno De Lastima," a humorous story of a man who deserves pity and compassion due to his concurring plights and situations. Folk tales offer an essential backdrop for lyrics, and "Pastora De Guararey," recalls the venerable matriarch Pastora whose daughter was romantically involved with a married man, who drew her ire (guararey); this song was covered in salsa's heyday by Ray Barretto, and is revisited here with great zest and fervor.

Rumba is where the drummers get to dominate the interplay, and bongocero George Ortiz mixes it up with Garcia on "La Rumba Esta Buena," with Thompson doing some great sonera singing. Shedding light on the 2014 Mexican mass student disappearance, "Changüí Pa' Ayotzinapa," articulates that infamous incident which remains an open case and mystery. Martha Gonzalez is a local East LA vocalist, and she is featured on "Amor De Madre," an inspiring tribute to the unequalled status of a mothers love.

It is exhilarating to discover a band who has recaptured a historical style, and brought it into the modern era. Though changüí has always maintained its relevance and importance, it was certainly due a shot of revivalism. Changüí Majadero has maintained the established format of bongos, bass and tres, augmented by the maracas/guayo percussive definition, centered on the singer's ability to invoke the proper sentiments. This is joyous music, deserving greater recognition.

Track Listing: Me La Llevo Al Megaton; Maymbero; Vamos Pa’l Guaso/Guantanamera Changüísera; Nengon; Digno De Lastima; Pastora De Guararey; La Rumba Esta Buena; Soy Campesino; Changüí Pa’ Ayotzinapa; Amor De Madre; La Rumba Esta Buena (Remix).

Personnel: Gabriel Garcia: tres, vocals; George Ortiz: bongo de monte; Norell Thompson: vocals, guayo; Alfred Ortiz: vocals, maracas; Yosmel Montejo: bass; Eddy Ortiz: guayo; Martha Gonzalez: vocals (10); Feliciano Arango: bass (11); Carlos Sanchez: vocals, trumpet (11); Calixto Oviedo: drums (11); Rigoberto Lopez: bass (10); Joey De Leon: marimbula (4).

Title: El Changüí Majadero | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Apocalypse Live" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse Live
by Martin Longley
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Kucheza" CD/LP/Track Review Kucheza
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Road to Forever" CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Little Steps" CD/LP/Track Review Little Steps
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Ariel" CD/LP/Track Review Ariel
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 22, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!