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Saturday, July 6

NY Times In a World That Sings Together, Music is Bridging Cultural Chasms: "Susana Baca devoted much of her early career to preserving and reviving Afro-Peruvian songs that are the heritage of slavery in Peru, which lasted until 1845. Forbidden to use drums with skins, slaves resourcefully played wooden boxes, chairs and donkey jawbones, and Ms. Baca holds on to the handmade sound of the music. Lately, she has expanded her repertory and modernized her backup to sound ever more intimate, gently singing about lost love, the sea and the lessons of history over sparsely syncopated guitars, hand drums and a hint of jazz bass. 'Espíritu Vivo' (Luaka Bop) often has a haunted tone that comes from both the songs and from events; it was recorded live in a downtown New York City studio very soon after Sept. 11, with Ms. Baca's Peruvian band joined by Marc Ribot, who adds eerie electric-guitar penumbras, and by the keyboardist John Medeski. Ms. Baca also takes up songs by Mongo Santamaria ('Afro Blue'), Caetano Veloso ('13 de Mayo,' which celebrates the end of slavery) and, of all people, Bjork ('Anchor Song'). Ms. Baca was not alone in the Afro-Peruvian revival she spearheaded. 'The Rough Guide to Afro-Peru' (World Music Network) is a well-chosen survey album that includes Ms. Baca and 11 other revivalists: some folky, some elaborately produced, all clearly devoted to the songs as both music and heritage." A survey of trans-world music includes to mentions of Peruvian albums.

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