“Peru established direct contact with Afro-Cuban music in the 1930s,” writes Carlos Torres Rotondo in a short but useful booklet essay. The country fell in love with “mambo, chachachá, pachanga, bolero, guaracha and other son-related styles.” Peruvian bugalú peaked in 1967. Then cumbia arrived. Salsa arrived. Bugalú faded. It was the 1970s. “An era had reached its end.” Going on nothing but the music on ¡Gózalo!, I thought, “Of course, cumbia and salsa are faster, crazier, they have a narrower and more ruthless focus. These tunes are languorous in comparison, creamy, handsome, they let their trumpets and pianos go off into relaxed solos, they can expand into a “Mambo Ravel”—a tribute to the French composer, topped off with the swirl from his “Boléro”—and aside from a few things like that man crowing “Ha-ha!” in El Combo de Pepe’s “Yo Traigo Boogaloo”, they don’t have the cumbia nuttiness. The tiger ate the swan. Of course!” I nodded wisely to myself. But I’m assuming all this from only 28 tracks, so who knows.
// Notes from the Road
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