Friday 3 July 2020
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The most important exponent of Colombian roots cumbia

Accordion player Carmelo Torres is the leading torchbearer of the legacy of cumbia sabanera, the rural roots style from the Montes de Maria region of Colombia’s Caribbean north. It’s a defiantly celebratory sound, springing from a turbulent history and continuing struggle.

Torres learnt the accordion and the secrets of cumbia sabanera from the legendary ‘King of the Cumbia’, Andrés Landero. When Landero died in 2000, Torres vowed to continue keeping the sound of the savannah rhythms alive, although they were no longer in fashion.

In 2006, at the age of 65, he was sought out by tropicalista mastermind, Mario Galeano (Frente Cumbiero, Ondatrópica, Los Pirañas and more), who invited him to record with his Los Toscos project, bringing the sound of sabanera to a younger generation.

And voilá, sabanera was fashionable once again, and Torres felt a hunger to head out on the road, taking his raw roots cumbia to the world. This brings the experienced accordion magician to Roskilde Festival. Here he plays with Los Toscos, an ensemble comprised of some of Bogotá's finest musicians including aforementioned Mario Galeano on guacharaca (percussion instrument made from the trunk of a palm tree), Pedro Ojeda (Romperayo) on drums, Santiago Botero (El Ombligo) on bass, Kike Mendoza (Mula) on guitar and Juan Castaño (La Revuelta) on percussion.

When you hear the rhythms and the danceable accordion sounds, you hear a special piece of music history that is still thriving – and deserves to be.