This album is more than just a reworking of Totó La Momposina’s 1993 album La Candela Viva, it is an amazing project that has its roots in a house track called La Mezcla that was released by Swiss producer Michel Cleis in 2009. La Mezcla contained two samples from La Candela Viva. Cleis’s record company requested access to the original tracks and producer John Hollis, Totó’s son-in-law located the original tapes. From there, over the intervening years, a plan was formulated to rework the tapes. The tapes were baked to remove moisture and digitized so that modern Technology could be used to produce Tambolero.
The album represents three musical styles: Sextetos, Tambores and Gaitas. With its origins in Africa brought to the Caribbean with the slaves, Spain with the conquistadors and also from the indigenous population of Colombia. Listening to both albums this morning it is fascinating to listen to how, in Tambolero, they have enhanced the warm sound of the tambores; the drums of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, played in 1993 by Batata who was at the time in his seventies. These drums inspired the name of the new album.
Other additions to the original sound are a chorus consisting of Totó’s granddaughters Oriana Melissa Hollis and Maria del Mar Hollis and double bass has been added to the sexteto songs: Chi Chi Mani, La Sombra Negra and Malangra by Nestor Vanegas who is the band’s bass player these days.
I see from the sleeve notes one local connection: in the mid 90s Totó and her family moved from Madrid to Paris and then to London and decided to base themselves in England to develop their work. They lived for a while in Sudbury, Suffolk and then moved to Bath.
I have spent a pleasant Boxing Day morning listening to both albums with the sun pouring in my front window and the sun pouring out of my speakers.
David, 2015 December 26