Tribu Baharú. Shared Roots

Tribu Baharú. Shared Roots

By Jorge Fuentes

Click aqui para español-> Tribu Baharú. Raíces Compartidas

A recent visit by a Colombian band focused the spotlight on the continuous close relationship between New Orleans and Latin America. Preservation Hall, considered the mecca of our city’s native music, served as the host for Tribu Baharú during a recent residence where the two musical genres found their shared common roots. As far as New Orleans traditional jazz is concerned, Preservation Hall has no equal: a live music venue with performances throughout the week, it boasts its own band, which tours constantly, and is supported by a non-profit foundation that promotes all its activities.

As part of their international music residence program -- which seeks to bring together the city’s musicians with artists from countries whose rhythms influence the music of New Orleans -- Preservation Hall invites different bands to share the stage with their house band. That is how the “champeta champions” from Bogotá were featured on a recent Tuesday night during three sold-out sets.

Champeta music originated from the “sound system” culture in Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, where mobile discos were essential in spreading their mix of rhythms and influences, such as Colombian folklore, Congolese soukous, Haitian kompa and calypso, among others. “We are working hard to grow this music genre and to make it known to the world,” explains Oscar "Moniki", the band’s percussionist. “When music comes together, it touches the audience in their heart,” says Boricua, the founder and guitarist of Tribu Baharú.

As part of the residence program, guest artists also spend time working on outreach activities. In this case, Tribu Baharú, was able to bring their musical style to the radar of youngsters at a juvenile detention center. Pocho, the drummer of the band, explained that this experience was a great opportunity to showcase their genre to the youth of Louisiana, while at the same time, showing at-risk youngsters that there are different alternatives, such as art, when it comes to making choices in life. "It is a chance to show another way of life and to potentially change someone's life," he said.

 Tribu Baharú also got the experience of a lifetime when they recorded music with their local counterparts. Not everyone gets a chance to be part of a collaboration with a legendary New Orleans band, so their time in the land of jazz was even more special. “I would always ask what jazz was. I come from one of the islands in Colombia, and I was told that to really know jazz, one should visit the jazz capital of the world,” said Chindo, the bass player. “This is a dream come true for me.”

Preservation Hall invited Tribu Baharú next year to be part of Kanaval, their new Mardi Gras project. “We protect, preserve and perpetuate all forms of New Orleans culture,” said Preservation Hall Foundation's director of programs Ashley Shabankare. “We’re bridging the gap between jazz and other musical genres,” she said while explaining the mission of supporting music communities beyond New Orleans as part of Preservation Hall's international outreach efforts.

Jorge Fuentes

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Publisher's Note

Mixing Traditions

It is no cliché. New Orleans has a wonderful mix of traditions that add to the charm of this amazing city. With the holidays in full-swing, we can enjoy holiday-centered, free events like simple walks around traditional neighborhoods to see the elaborate Christmas decorations, Caroling in Jackson Square, attending the gospel and jazz concerts at St. Louis Cathedral and St. Augustine Church, watching the technological light display during Luna Fête, and visiting the beautifully decorated hotel lobbies in town, among others.

 There is one tradition in Louisiana that is so unique and that I hope to experience this year: The Bonfires on the Levee. Just thinking about seeing the pyres, the fireworks display and its reflection on the river during a cold night and having a warm drink while learning about this tradition from our River Parishes' neighbors sounds like an amazing way to soak in some of the culture around us.

Though the original purpose of the bonfires is unconfirmed, fitting the storyline of Papa Noel following the lights on a pirogue being pulled down river by alligators to deliver presents is such a tale. It involves a mix of many elements that are unique to the culture that has shaped the city of New Orleans.

I just love being able to experience different traditions and learning about the ways diverse groups of people who have made New Orleans their home, celebrate the holidays

Happy Holidays!