The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo 1967-1977 from Soundway Records
Aqui Los Bravos!
The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo
01. El Sonerito
02. Aqui los Bravos
03. Cumbia Raja
04. Vamos Negra
05. El Arruyo De Macuya
06. A Los Sicodelicos
07. Mirame San Miguel
08. La Vaca Nueva
10. Hong Kong
11. El Negro Y Ray
12. Se Fue la Cumbia
13. Suena Ahora
15. Son Retoson
Soundway Records is a UK based reissue label who is really defining why they are one of the most important reissue labels of the modern century. Music in the smallest pockets of the world is being found and released in the highest quality possible and with great results. This year the label released a compilation of their favorite tracks from child prodigy and master musician Michi Sarmiento. Michi plays the full gamut of latin instruments, such as tenor sax and clarinet, guitar and piano, electric bass, tumbadora and timbales. With some of the best musicians around him, he created a special scene in Colombia during the 60′s and 70′s. Guaguancós, descargas, salsa, boogaloo, dance porros and cumbias are all found on this compilation and the type of imagery created after you hear this is so overwhelming you immediately start dancing as if you were there. The dance floors of Colombia were energized by people like Michi Sarmiento who had the ability to take the crowd over and bring them into his world of pure bliss through community and dance. These are always the most special interactions of musicians and those listening as participation is a must and something the music brings out regardless of your abilities or inhibitions. All of the material on this comp were released originally on the Discos Fuentes label, a label most don’t know outside of the region but is one that set the table for excellent recordings of the musicians in that scene.
The first piece presented on this compilation is El Sonerito and starts with a beautiful trumpet line that is followed by the percussion very precisely. The lyrical harmony comes in and you hear how infectious this music is right away. This music is the type of organic music that electronics could never touch. Pure rhythms, social, political and personal commentary and a burning desire to make the dance floor rumble, Michi and his bands left a body of recordings that words could never really explain. Latin music has one of the heaviest emphasis of percussion and that aspect of this album always carries a personality. Intricate percussion work is one that is very well hidden inside the mix but once you focus on that aspect you realize how heavy this music is. Percussion is the foundation of music and this recording presents a time capsule of some of the best percussion and rhythm work from Colombia. Long lush bass lines provide the spring board for Michi’s sax to really spread out and provide in the pocket solos. The spirit on each song is positive and full of so much light that anyone who is experiencing a bad day should put this on and let go of themselves and attach themselves to the celebration of what this music represents. The bass pulses on every song always gives room for thunderous statements from the players who express on top of them.
My favorite piece is ‘Hong Kong’ and starts off with a beautiful piano dominated intro that leads to the saxaphone work from Michi that is so unique. Michi had the ability to play multi instruments at the same time, much like that of Roland Kirk. The principles of latin music show in full light on this album. The guitar solo on ‘Caprichosa’ is so subtle yet so powerful and every musician is given this spotlight to show why every instrument is just as important as the others. When the vocals come in on every piece, you can’t help but dance and reflect on the movement of those who were around when this was being presented live during the 60′s and 70′s. This is the music of celebration, of community and the appreciation of having this joy over the need to dominate anything economically or spiritually. Openness circles in and the liberation of body, mind and soul transforms itself into the dance floor and the ecstasy found when you let go and let the music take over. The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo 1967-1977 is one of the most important compilations to come out this year for reissue materials of music in this style, don’t miss out. -Erik Otis
For details on how to order the LP, CD or Digital format, click HERE
Soundway presents an interview with Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo
From Soundway Records:
Soundway remain in Colombia for the follow up to Cartagena! Curro Fuentes & The Big Band Cumbia & Descarga Sound of Colombia 1962 – 72, with a collection of pure Colombian dancefloor thunder; 16 tracks of the finest guaguancós, descargas and cumbias recorded by legendary bandleader Michi Sarmiento y su Bravos, and released on the infamous Discos Fuentes label between 1967 and 1977.
Born into a musical family in 1938, Michi, a musical-child prodigy of sorts, began playing the cabarets, casinos and cathouses of Cartagena in the late 1950’s. By 1967 he had formed his Combo Bravo (the band consisted of two trumpets, Michi on tenor sax and clarinet, guitar and piano, electric bass, tumbadora, timbales and a young Joe Arroyo on vocals) and began to play live alongside other exciting young groups such as Toño y su Combo, Los Seven del Swing and Puerto Rico y su Combo.
Along with infectious dance porros and cumbias, Michi y sus Bravos specialized in rumbling guaguancós, descargas and hot covers of early salsa and boogaloo hits. Michi’s LPs on Discos Fuentes, brilliantly produced and recorded by Mario ‘Pachanga’ Rincón, were packed with fast-paced dancefloor burners featuring pumping bass, insistent montunos, sax solos and nasty metallic percussion.