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.