After more than 40 years since the emergence of that musical idea cooked on the mind of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti that will later become Afrobeat – a fusion between Yoruba rhythms and American funk- the genre has seen a revival on a world scale, spreading through countries and cultures as detached from the “africaniz
ation” as Japan or England. Afrobeat artists have taken it upon themselves to demonstrat e that this relatively new musical genre transcends political and cultural barriers.
However, in Puerto Rico, a former Spanish colony, where African Yoruba roots predominat
e, the fertile ground for the creation of a creole style afrobeat had never been sown … that is until now. Incorporat ing within them a fusion of traditiona l afrobeat, classic funk, blues, boogalo, ambient and afro Antillean folk rhythms such as “bomba”, Bando arrive at the scene with a conceptual ly unique musical proposal.
Formed by six veterans of the Puerto Rican musical scene: producers Agustin Criollo (La Iglesia Atómica, Astrid Pröll, solo artist) on bass and vocals and Gaby Vidal (Ongo, Icaro Azul, Trili) on lead and atmospheri
c guitars along with Richard Torres on drums and percussion , Martín Latimer (La Iglesia Atómica, Andante, Madera Negra) on rhythmic groove guitar and Jerry Rivera on lead vocals, Bando epitomizes the social outcry in their lyrics, supported by a solid rhythmic base without precedent where traditiona l Afro-Ameri can instrument s intertwine with indigenous Puerto Rican musical instrument s, such as the percussion barrel and the maraca which are used in traditiona l “bomba” dance and music.
Bando’s name, surges from a historical
fact that makes references to the notorious “Bando Contra la Raza Africana” (Ban Against The African Race): a series of edicts proclaimed by the Spanish Crown in 1848 by the then governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Prim, who imposed the most absurd and cruel punishment s on people of African descent, notwithsta nding if they were slaves or freedmen, for fear of another “black” revolution in Puerto Rico from the sorts of the one Haiti already experiment ed a couple of decades before.
Nevertheless, this “Bando”, is for the race, not against it, hoping to prove that all different slopes related to the African Diaspora are but rivers leading to the same ocean: the African continent.
This is only the beginning for a group which promises to be one of the most relevant artists in Puerto Rico’s independen
t musical scene.