Ricaurte Arias Y Su Conjunto | Orquesta Pacho Galan – Fiestas / Estambul (7″)
Fiestas is an ultra catchy foxtrot by the Colombian clarinet player and arranger Ricaurte Arias. This American-style swing spiced up with a layer of Colombian sauce is an irresistible ear worm that takes the concept of smoothness to another level. Definitely the foxiest of all foxes.
The legendary composer and band leader Pacho Galan’s take on Estambul is another example of how American swing and Colombian music can blend into a unique musical melting pot. The song starts with hard tambor breaks and maracas kicking in badly. The playful horns driven by the cumbia rhythm make it impossible not to dance on this tune.
Colombia is a country with rich and strong musical traditions. The country has a huge variety of musical styles like cumbia, porro, gaitas, etc. From the late 30’s on, many folkloric styles were modernised by band leaders who were inspired by American big bands. In most cases, these Colombian big bands merely adopted the big band style, but not the American music itself as they kept on playing typical rhythms from the homeland and surrounding countries. However, some bands incorporated American songs and dances in their repertoire. This double-sider is a perfect example of this interesting musical fusion.
Ricaurte Arias comes from a family of musicians, but always lived a bit in the shadow of his more famous brother Edmundo Arias. Apart from the work that he did for his brother’s band, Ricaurte Arias build up an impressive career for himself and did a lot of studio work as an arranger for labels such as Fuentes, Sonolux, Metropoli, Ondina, etc. Some of his songs are considered to be classics among cumbia-collectors.
Many versions of “Fiestas” have been released through the years. A few years ago, the song was picked up in the electro swing scene, where several producers sampled the theme. But in a way, this version still stands out from all the others.
Pacho Galan was born in Soledad, near Barranquilla, in the north of Colombia. This is the region where African rhythms were mixed with indigenous music to what is nowadays considered as traditional Colombian music. Pacho Galan was one of the first and biggest innovators of the country’s music. Besides modernising the sound, he also invented new rhythms that were soon adopted by other musicians and later became common musical styles. Pacho Galan went through life as ‘el Rey del Merecumbe’, thanks to his most famous musical invention, the merecumbe rhythm. Apart from being an innovator, he was also an outstanding composer. He has been praised as one of the ‘Big Three’ composers in Colombia, next to Lucho Bermudez and Edmundo Arias.
The song Estambul is a comic song composed by Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon in 1953, referring to the renaming of Constantinople to Istanbul in 1930. The first version of this song by the Four Lads became an instant hit. Through the years, numerous interpretations of this tune have been recorded.