|URUBAMBA - ALBUM
Urubamba - Produced by Paul Simon
Urubamba is the name of the river which winds at the foot of Machu Picchu, the last stronghold of the Incas against European conquest. So it is altogether fitting this river should have lent its name to a quartet of Peruvian musicians who are devoted to the preservation of the music of Inca culture ~ Like a river, Urubamba flows with a natural ease and strength which suggests an indomitable culture. It is among the most soothing and inspiring sounds I know, a source of continual fascination with its alternately stately and martial rhythms, its sometimes festive, somtimes wistful, sometimes absolutely mournful air. Hearing it, for the first time or the hundredth, one feels restored and uplifted. ~ Urubamba is best known in Europe and North America for its contributions to a pair of Paul Simon recordings. Simon first met the band (then know as Los Incas) when they were co-billed at the Theatre del L'Est Parisienne in Paris in 1965. They gave him one of their albums, and it so intrigued him that he wrote the lyrics to one of their melodies which became Simon and Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa." Later, they accompanied him on "Duncan" from this first solo album, and on his 1973 concert tour (where "Kacharpari," which opens side two of this album, was recorded). It was during this time that Urubamba was recorded, using the traditional Inca Instruments: la quena, flutes of varying length and pitch; la antara, the panpipe; la charango, the guitar-like stringed instrument; and la bombo leguero, the massive willow and goat-skin drum. ~ It's ironic that Urubamba should have made a name for itself as a part of contemporary pop music, but it's also testimony to the enduring vitality of this music. After all, the point of Urubamba is that such sounds transcend their era, a point established in the opening track, with its flamenco-like accents and propulsive rhythm, and sustained throughout the record, through the fife-and-drum inflections of "Singers" and the achingly lovely "Death In Santa Cruz" and "Heart Of The Inca King." Listening to it, one feels that he has penetrated to the heart of a lost culture - and to one's own lost heart as well, which perhaps explains the singularly meditative and inspiring feellings it provokes. Like the music of the Appalachian mountains, these Inca melodies are a high, lonesome sound which reach out beyond the time and place of their creation - whether seven or seven hundred years ago - to speak to everyone who hears them today - Dave Marsh
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