Friday, October 1, 2010

CD Review: Peruvian Collective: Pena [CD+DVD]

Pena [CD+DVD]

Pena is not an ordinary album of Afro-Peruvian music. The brainchilds behind the Pena ‘collective’ of musicians are Cory Wong and Eric Foss. Both men run Secret Stash Records in Minnesota, USA. Pena was born after a trip to Lima, Peru yielded a wealth of excellent opportunities to record several musicians over a seven-day period. Cory’s background in Afro-Peruvian songs and guitar playing allowed for many musical moments that were rather spontaneous, while meeting and rehearsing with the musicians. On Pena, Cory’s guitar is joined by Andres Prado, Eric Kurimski, Alberto, and Javier Choy on guitar, Chico Chavez (percussion), Sofia Koutsovitis (vocals), Jorge Roeder (upright bass), Jorge Perez-Albela, Manuel Vasquez, and Hugo Alcazar on cajon. The songs are lightly seasoned with South American, African, and Latin sensibilities, but they are genuinely Afro-Peruvian. A diverse blend of virtuoso performers provides introspective musicianship on every track. In the same manner, a thirty-five minute DVD accompanies the album. The DVD provides commentary from Cory and Eric, footage of recording sessions, Peruvian instrument history, and various performances of every musician included on the album. What makes Pena particularly unique involves the way it is packaged – in an attractive mahogany-colored, wood case. If you want to experience the life-affirming qualities of the Afro-Peruvian musical heritage, then look no further. ~ Matthew Forss

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