Essential 10: Afro-Colombian Marimba Albums | Songlines
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Essential 10: Afro-Colombian Marimba Albums

By Jenna Mackle

Jenna Mackle selects 10 of her favourite Afro-Colombian marimba albums

Essential 10 Marimba Albums

Agrupación Changó

Berejú Discos Pacífico, 2020

Directed by Wisman Tenorio, Agrupación Changó fuse together ancestral knowledge with contemporary musical elements, and this vibrant album intoxicates with its virtuoso marimba, complex percussive rhythms and haunting vocals. 


Batea Discos Pacífico/Llorona Records, 2021

From Tumaco, this group are at the forefront of Pacific fusion music today, pushing it into fresh and exciting directions. This, their first studio album, combines Afrobeat with traditional Afro-Pacific rhythms, and is symbolic of the creativity, resistance and ancestral importance of African music on the modern-day Colombian Pacific coast. 

Canalón de Timbiquí

Arrullando Canalón de Timbiquí, 2016

Led by the acclaimed Nidia Góngora, this all-female vocal troupe have carried the sounds of the Pacific to the wider world for many years. Though the group have recently incorporated more electronic sounds, Arullando showcases their mastery of styles within the traditions of Timbiquí music. Have a listen to ‘La Juana’ for some spectacular harmonies. 

Dinastía Torres

Los Duendes de La Marimba Palenque Records, 2020

Hailing from Guapi, Cauca, this highly-respected family of marimberos are well-known for passing down invaluable musical knowledge across the Pacific. Los Duendes de La Marimba is one of the rawest and most stripped-back albums on this list, coursing with sublime, syncopated marimba brilliance. A Top of the World in October 2020 (#161).

Espíritu Balanta Y Estrellas de Timbiquí

Espíritu Balanta Y Estrellas de Timbiquí Juga Music, 2019

Another choice offering for those seeking the raw traditions of the Pacific jungle; this is a project fully steeped in the heritage and traditional folklore of Timbiquí, replete with feverish male-and-female polyphonies and wild, clattering percussion. 

Grupo Bahía

Pura Chonta Recargado Grupo Bahía, 2008

Based in Cali, Grupo Bahía are led under the direction of legendary composer, arranger, saxophonist and marimbero Hugo Candelario. It’s almost impossible to choose one album from the ensemble’s extensive discography, but Pura Chonta Recargado provides the opportunity to listen to some classic Pacific party classics, including ‘Kilele’, an anthem familiar to anyone who has ever attended Petronio Álvarez Festival in Cali. 

Herencia de Timbiquí

Al Natural Codiscos, 2018

Of all the bands included on this list, Herencia de Timbiquí has migrated furthest from traditional marimba music. Nevertheless, the group are highly esteemed within Pacific music today. Merging Pacific influences with jazz, salsa, rock and many more global sounds, Al Natural brought the group to the attention of a larger audience. Their cover of the track ‘Amanecé’, a famous traditional Pacific song, is a great place to begin with this 11-piece outfit. 

Perlas del Pacifico

Llora El Agua Sonidos Enraizados, 2016

This is another crucial traditional release from the region to bring female vocalists to the fore. Perlas del Pacifico’s Llora El Agua mixes jugas, bambuco viejos, juga grandes to great rhythmical effect on a record that oozes class.

Plu Con Pla

No Más Velorio EP Galletas Calientes Records, 2018

This Tumaqueño powerhouse delves deep into the music of the African diaspora to combine reggae and hip-hop with the traditional rhythms of currulao, bunde and more. The vocal work on No Mas Velorio hits a special sweet spot and is unquestionably one of the most impressive elements of this talented group (particularly on the track ‘Bombo’). 

Semblanzas del Río Guapi

Voy Pa’ Allá Discos Pacífico, 2021

One of the many bands on the Pacific coast currently taking up traditional music and modernising it, Semblanzas del Rió Guapi, a traditional currulao ensemble, strike a balance between seeking to crossover to wider audiences while continuing to preserve their own traditions. Voy Pa’ Allá is the perfect place to start with this group, its inclusion of bundes, currulaos and jugas sure to satisfy the listening needs of Pacific music lovers everywhere.

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