Cimarron | Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park | International | Chicago Reader

Cimarron Recommended Free All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sun., June 21, 6:30 p.m. 2009

This Colombian band brings fiery virtuosity to the string-driven style called joropo, the most popular manifestation of the country’s rich tradition of musica llanera, or “plains music.” Joropo arose on the plains of the Orinoco region, in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela, and assumed its modern form in the late 50s: as it established itself in cities, its instrumentation became standardized and its lyrics lost some of their previous focus on ranching and farming. Though Grupo Cimarron isn’t well-known in the States—the only album I’ve found here is the 2004 Smithsonian Folkways release Si Soy Llanero—back home its members are folk stars. Their crisp playing combines the fierce rhythmic snap and improvisational rigor of flamenco with the infectious gallop of Appalachian dance music—the overall effect is like a Colombian answer to bluegrass. Bandleader Carlos Rojas Hernandez has a beautiful touch on the arpa llanera, a harp with a built-in resonator, but on the instrumental numbers—about half the group’s repertoire—he’s often overshadowed by the furious, stabbing lines of his guitarists, Darwin Fonseca (cuatro) and Ferney Cabezas (bandola). The band’s three vocalists include the electrifying Ana Veydo Ordoñez, who has defied the traditional gender roles of joropo by mastering not only the lyrical pasaje form but also the frenetic, hard-charging golpe. This is Grupo Cimarron’s Chicago debut. —Peter Margasak

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