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Featured Artists: Colombia in NYC


Gregorio Uribe

Gregorio Uribe has made a name for himself in NYC leading a big band, performing mostly his original music. Check out the video for the title track from the big band’s debut album, Cumbia Universal featuring Rubén Blades:

Lately Gregorio has branched out, performing with a trio format, which is featured in the program. “That’s something very new and something very exciting for me, because up to now, I’ve been very set and very stubborn about the big band. I’m at a point where I want to be a little more fluid, so that’s really what the trio means.” 

La Cumbiamba eNeYé

La Cumbiamba eNeYé, led by multi-instrumentalist Martin Vejarano, connects the dots between traditional cumbia with percussion and gaita flutes and jazz and experimental music. Check out their albums here, and check out their many videos:

Grupo Rebolú

Grupo Rebolú has been turning heads and shaking hips with their unique mix of Afro-Colombian rhythms from the Caribbean region including cumbia, fandango, porro, chandé, with horns and electric instruments. They perform original compositions by lead singer and gaitero Ronald Polo. Check out their new live video “Llorando featuring Jimmy Bosch” 

Johanna Castañeda tells us, “Even though we play Colombian music, it’s a little different, because we’ve been in this U.S.A. for quite some time, we’re influenced by that.”

Ronald Polo adds, “If you hear Grupo Rebolu music, you hear jazz influence, Latino influence from everywhere, but we try to conserve all the tradition in the percussion and the composition style.”

Edmar Castañeda

Edmar Castañeda is an acclaimed jazz harpist, but he developed his style out of the llanera folk music of the Colombian plains. “It’s a folk tradition that we share with Venezuela, the joropo, and it’s very similar to flamenco. I came to New York when I was 16, in ’94, with my harp. It has been a fun journey, to give a different face of the harp to people. People usually think that the harp is more like an angel’s music, soft, but you can party with the angels, you can groove with the angels! [Laughs] So that’s what I like, to groove a lot and improvise on the harp. The root is this folk music, llanera music, but with New York: the influence of Brazilian jazz, Afro, so many influences. I changed a lot of stuff, and the way of playing it: playing bass lines with my left hand and playing harmonies and melodies with the right hand at the same time, so it sounds like two or three instruments on the harp.”

Bulla en El Barrio

Bulla en El Barrio is one of the newest groups performing traditional Colombian music in New York. They are dedicated to performing a single style of Afro-Colombian music, bullerengue, from the Atlantic coast. Their amazing singer Carolina Oliveros tells us: “Bullerengue is more than music, it’s a life style, the life style of the cantadoras from the villages, who express themselves through bullerengue.”

Look out for their forthcoming 45 of original music from Names You Can Trust.

For more information on bullerengue, check out, a new educational platform for the promotion of this tradition.

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

MAKU is an institution in New York. We’ve been enjoying their original mix of Afrobeat and Colombian styles for years! They just released their fourth album, Mezcla on Glitterbeat Records. Check out their excellent music video for “La inevitable.”

Combo Chimbita

Combo Chimbita is part of the greater MAKU Soundsystem family: Felipe Quiroz, Andres Jimenez and Camilo Rodriguez of MAKU, with Carolina Oliveros, of Bulla en El Barrio.  Felipe tells us how the group got started: “Basically Camilo found this Tascam 388 tape machine, and he didn’t know how to really use it, so he just called me up, like ‘Dude, I found this machine, let’s do something.’” [Laughs] So we started playing with it, and we recorded this song. Then Camilo sent it to Eric and Monk from Names You Can Trust, and they were like, “Oh, this is awesome, let’s put a record out.”  That was their debut single “Puro Show.” On our program we featured music from their upcoming EP, out this fall on NYCT, including this song, “Tamborero.”

Diego Obregón and Grupo Chonta

You used to be able to hear traditional and experimental marimba music from the Pacific coast of Colombia right here in New York: Diego Obregón y Grupo Chonta were regulars around town, especially at Barbes, but Diego recently returned to Colombia after many years in New York. We miss him!

Alejandro Zuleta Vallenato Collective

Alejandro Zuleta comes from a long line of vallenato musicians from Colombia. His grandfather is the composer of “La Gota Fria,” and his father is also a famous vallenato composer. “We have accordion players, singers, whatever. A lot of musicians in my family. So I’m here in New York, and I do vallenato music, but I don’t do it with the accordion, I do it with the piano, because I’m a pianist.”  In our program we feature music from Alejandro’s unreleased album, Vallenato Collective. Check out this episode of Made in Colombia, about “Vallenato in the Box,” a collaboration with accordionist Hugo Carlos Granados, reigning champion of the Valledupar Vallenato Accordion competition.

Harold Rodriguez

Born and raised in NYC, Harold Rodriguez has embraced his Colombian roots and pursued vallenato music with a passion. He recently traveled to Colombia for the first time. “It was a validating experience to be accepted by the people who can actually call themselves the owners of that music. I never expected to receive such an open reception, such a loving response by them. I always thought that it would be very tough to convince people of that area, which are my own people, that even though I wasn’t born there, I can still produce that music, or at least produce that same sentiment of that song.” Look out for his forthcoming album, check out his soul-rock band Alma Mia.

Elkin Pautt/ Delsonido

Elkin Pautt, from Barranquilla, is a producer, percussionist and leader of the group Delsonido: “When I came to New York, I started hearing DJs here, gringos, who made their own mixes with Colombian music, putting a dembow on a cumbia or turned it into reggaeton or whatever. I took what they were doing as an influence, but what I used to hear in Colombia was different, and I needed to bring that back,” Elkin told us. So he founded Delsonido, a live band that mixes electronic music styles with traditional and popular music from Colombia.

Pablo Mayor

Pablo Mayor is a pianist, composer, educator and one of the founders of the the Encuentro NYC Festival of Colombian music, one event every year where you can see and hear many of these excellent groups live on the same stage. With his own project, Folklore Urbano, he recently created a video, “Siguiendo La Clave,” the first step in an evolving multimedia tribute to El Barrio, Spanish Harlem, where Pablo has taught for the past 17 years. Pablo is from Cali, Colombia, one of the centers of salsa music, so he’s been mixing Afro-Cuban and Afro-Colombian music for quite a while:

Be on the lookout for this year’s Encuentro NYC!

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