[27 March 2014]
Abelardo Carbonó was born in 1948, a self-taught guitarist, and if label Vampisoul’s biography is correct then the problem of a living wage has been the conundrum of his life from earliest days to the present. Soundway included him on their 2010 compilation Palenque, Palenque, and now he’s got this two disc retrospective to roam around in, so hopefully things are looking up, as far as the English-speaking market is concerned, anyway. Carbonó‘s playfulness is what hits you immediately, an Afro-Latin tick-tock pepped up for the sake of happiness in “Muévela”. He likes the kind of cutting sound that flicks out and doesn’t mess around with reverberations—a glittering string in “A Otro Perro Con Ese Hueso” and a quick falsetto in “La Negra Kulengue”. This is music made to stand out in a crowded popular marketplace and in spite of dubious transmissions. Music for the poorer part of society, the part with less money and more need for a song whose manifestation, here, in this place, can feel like good fortune. Carbonó comes from coastal Colombia, the birthplace of champeta, music rooted in former slave societies, and the African influence on his Maravilloso Mundo is huge. Pan-African, multi-African: he doesn’t restrict himself to a single area. But it’s the sparkle of the mid-century rumba guitar and its northwest descendants that he seems to love most.