As the late 1990s transitioned into the early 2000s, in the small Chilean town called Villa Aleman, singer Aldo "Macha" Asenjo and other members of the local punk-ska group LaFloripondio would gather around and jam for fun on old classics from the Chilean and Columbian cumbia traditions. After fifteen years, six albums, and a few world tours together as Chico Trujillo, the band remains true to these roots: Their newest title, Reina de Todas Las Fiestas, translates as The Queen of All Parties.
Recorded across Argentina, Chile, Columbia, and Mexico, Las Fiestas captures a colorful, warm and celebratory soundas if Chico Trujillo threw and recorded an outdoor party featuring cumbia, mariachi, marching and New Orleans brass bands, all randomly strolling in and out of the celebration. Several tunes, such as the bandeon-based "Se Nota En El Ambiente Que Tenemos Que Partir" and flute-fueled "Alturas," whip up the feeling of a twirling, traditional dance you might enjoy at an ethnic wedding celebration.
"Playas Marinas," a Columbian cumbia classic featuring singer Henrique Alvarez from Los Tres (one of Chile's most influential rock bands), incorporates the see-saw rhythmic tug of Caribbean music into its South American horns, guitars, bandeon and vocals. "Chatito," featuring Rebel Diaz, a hip-hop group from the Bronx fronted by two Chilean brothers, chirps up with a sunny 1960s Farfisa sound. The thin and trebly electric rhythm guitar of Peruvian chicha (traditional cumbia rewired in the 1960s with the guitar-heavy sound of psychedelic and surf rock) cuts through "Los Nervios Que Tedi," which also spotlights Argentinian pop star Kevin Johansen, and "La Cura Del Espanto."
But Las Fiestas saves its ultimate celebration for the closing, title track recorded with Banda Wiracocha, a 30-piece brass band from Northern Chile which specializes in pre-Hispanic songs, dances, and ritual and carnival music. This joint performance captures a wild and raucous celebration of their shared South American musical culture, and doesn't shut Las Fiestas down as much as it blows it up and out.
Abajo Del Bote; Malgeniosa; Playas Marinas; La Cura Del Espanto; Se Nota En El Ambiente Que Tenemos Que Partir; Alturas; Chatito; Los Nervios Que Tedi; Reina De Todas Las Fiestas.
Juan Gronemeyer: drums, percussion; Michael Magliocchetti; guitar, vocals; Tuto Vargas: bajo; Sebastian Cabezas: trumpet; Tio Rodi: percussion; Luis Tabilo: trombone; Felita: saxophone; Macha Asenjo: guitar, vocals.