The Sweet Sounds of Colombia

Gregorio Uribe's "Pluma y Vino"

Gregorio Uribe describes his musical life as beginning by learning about different musical techniques and styles by walking around South America. After this South American sojourn, Gregorio traveled to Boston to enroll at the Berklee College of Music where he earned his music degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude. The jazz roots at Berklee affected Gregorio deeply.

Gregorio brought to life his vision to create a show that blends different genres such as funk, samba and jazz with the intriguing folkloric rhythms of his native Colombia. He has done this largely through the vehicle of his big band.

His bold approach to Latin Jazz in general and Colombian music in particular have occasioned him to share the stage with such renowned artists as the six-time Grammy-winner Rubén Blades and Latin Grammy Award-winners Aterciopelados and Bomba Estero.

In February of 2013 Gregorio was invited as an “Artist in Residence” at Dartmouth College. He conducted workshops and performed in the 37th Annual Dartmouth Winter Carnival Concert on February 9th.

In 2010, Jose Simian of the New York Daily News wrote "Gregorio Uribe, a mild-mannered 25-year old from Bogota, Colombia, manages to strike a rare balance between youthful energy and the authority of a self-made music impresario."

This sentiment was profoundly on display with Gregorio Uribe’s solo album “Pluma y Vino (Pen and Wine)” from 2012. In this his very first album, Gregorio shows his poetic lyricism and intelligent composing and arranging. He offers a fresh view of classic Latin rhythms such as Bolero, Currulao, Bullerengue and Trova. In fact the very first track is a bolero number entitled “Una Excusa.”

“Una Excusa (An Excuse)” is—like all the tracks on this album—written by Gregorio. It features Andres Rostmistrovsky on bass with Gregorio handling all the other instruments (guitar and congas). The slow bolero tempo is a tantalizing introduction to the CD.

The bolero often appears in 6/4 but was made famous by Ravel’s “Bolero” which was in a constant 3/4 time. Bolero was a tempo used by Chopin, Debussy and Bizet. Instead of guitar and castanets, Gregorio employs guitar and congas. Here and throughout the entire album, his choices are appropriate and well-reasoned.

The music and influence of Gregorio’s native Colombia is prominent on this recording. Gregorio uses accordion, guitar and more to shed light on the music of his homeland. His musical vocabulary is rich and his delivery swings from soulful to almost sinful in its sensuality.

“La Toma” is the third track and is taken from the name of a city in Colombia. It offers the street corner sounds of male ensemble vocals and is a rousing venture only to be calmed and charmed by the following piece entitled “Tu Barrio (Your Town)”. The flugelhorn is a well-placed accompaniment and is gently rendered into a sweet song of remembrance.

The effortless vocal delivery is calming and emotional. As splendid as the musicianship is on this album, it is the smooth and heart-warming voice of Gregorio that stills the spirit.

The understated “palmas” is a delicate and refined addition in “De Repente (Unexpectedly)”. Again, Gregorio chooses well. The beautiful Spanish guitar and laid-back rhythm section is as unexpected as the title. The vocalization is in flawless collaboration with the instrumentation.

Gregorio moves from whimsical to wistful between “Mi Super Heroe” and “Forgive and Forget” and the clarinet on the latter track is another rewarding choice. His call-and-response vocals are fitting.

Julia Kost accompanies on cello for “Asi Soy Yo.” The overdubbed layers render a string quartet effect with stunning results.

The album concludes with “Los Ninos del Alma (The Children of Alma).” A percentage of the profits from the album are assigned to Fundación ALMA which works with disadvantaged children in Latin America with the aim of building and enhancing community and promoting peace through music and arts education. “Los Ninos del Alma” is a sweet end to the recording. It is hopeful and optimistic, joyful and reverent…just like Gregorio must be himself.

Gregorio Uribe’s choices in musicians, instruments, arrangements and lyrics are without regret. The cumulative effect of the album is such that if there is a weak moment on the album, it is impossible to recall it.

My God, I love this album.

Purchase “Pluma y Vino” at

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Travis Rogers