The Bottom Line
Toto La Momposina is one of the best known names in Colombian traditional music from the tropical, coastal area and La Bodega is her sixth studio album. There's no reason to be afraid of the 'traditional or 'folkloric' label since the album works just as well when listened to by urban ears as by more rural sensibilities. The nine tracks on the album offer a fresh and joyous musical experience as Andean and Afro-Caribbean traditions meet, mix and party together.
- A kaleidescope of traditional Colombian music performed by professional, practiced musicians
- Fans of Latin pop/urban genres might not care for more rustic music
- 9 tracks of music from Colombia's tropical regions
- Vocals by Toto La Momposina, Colombia's folkloric diva
- Released November 2009 by Astar Artes
Guide Review - Review: Toto La Momposina - 'La Bodega'
Discussions of ‘tropical’ music, the music that is produced by those Latin speaking countries that touch the Caribbean, tend to revolve around the islands: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. But it’s a big mistake to leave out the rich musical traditions that spring from the tropical, Caribbean-bound areas of Colombia.
This area was the original birthplace of cumbia, from where it spread to become one of the most popular Latin music genres in the world. This is also an area where the indigenous Indian music from Andean tradition meets the Afro-Caribbean rhythmic world. The result is simply irresistible, irrepressible and infectious.
Toto La Momposina was born in the village of Talaigua on the river island of Mompos, where the Magdelena River meets the Caribbean and from which she borrowed her name. She comes from a long line of musicians; she learned her craft both from family and from village singers and musicians.
From the opening notes of a solo horn plaintively calling us to come join the celebration, La Bodega treats us to the marriage of Andean/Indian gaita flutes and drums with Afro-Caribbean rhythms. Add in a healthy dose of brass, guitars and the earthy, folkloric voice of Toto La Momposina and the result is a musical fiesta, both exotic and approachable.
The album contains a nice mix of rhythms and styles. Some of them are familiar, such as rumba, son, bolero and, of course, cumbia. Others like bullerengue, garabato and chalupa are less so and it’s a real treat to have the opportunity to experience them as performed by an authentic yet practiced ensemble – not always the case with groups founded in folkloric tradition.
A few of the numbers are obviously ritualistic while others would feel right at home on a U.S. dance floor. But ultimately, it’s a real treat to hear music that comes from a long line of traditional practitioners yet feels so fresh and refreshing, reminding the listener of why they fell in love with Latin rhythms all those years ago.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.