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Various Artists: Paranda, African Music in Central America

Paranda, African Music in Central America (Detour 3984-27303; 52:59) contains some exotic sounds and crosses seemingly odd musical junctures, but it also tells a cultural tale. While African influences are paramount in much of South America’s musical heritage, and a solid, well-known part of the mix in Cuban and Haitian music, their role in Central America is something different: a shipwrecked slave ship, escaped slaves and the resulting blend of African and native Arawak Indians created the hybrid culture of Garifuna.

The Garifunas’ music, whose rhythmic character and song structures clearly suggest an Afro-Central-American merger, is performed here by venerable paranderos (paranda is a word signifying both a particular rhythm and the musical idiom itself). Musicians from Belize, Honduras and Guatemala, including 70-year-old paranda hero Paul Nabor and 27-year-oldpipsqueak Aurelio Martinez, carry on the tradition threatened by socio-political structures intent on squelching Garifuna culture. For the moment, Garifuna music is pure and simple and touching.

Originally Published