Magical and universal, Paracumbé is the sound of southern Puerto Rico, of joyous plena describing the humor in everyday life, of celestial women's voices soaring over the improvisation of barriles and panderetas, cuatro and accordeon. As Paracumbé's first commercial release, the high polish of musicianship and singing sets Tambó apart from many other folkloric recordings.
Southern bomba developed separately from that of the San Juan area. In the south, only the women sing bomba; Paracumbé's choir brings a mysterious beauty to selections such as Mama, Ciudame A Belén, Salustiana and Zoila. Plena selections such as Costa Sur and Don Julio, with the unmistakable sound of panderetas de plena and cuatro, invoke the humor and carefree lifestyle of rural Borinquén. Apart from its beauty and its rhythms, this album will be of interest to those, of Puerto Rican descent or not, who wish to experience a tradition which has always existed, but which until now has had little opportunity to be recognized or understood. Mysteriously beautiful, Paracumbe brings you the Afro-Puerto Rican tradition at its most profound.
"Nelie Lebrón Robles... can be imploring, playful or incantatory as her voice soars above Paracumbé's precisely etched rhythms, in a production that makes every drum stroke and maraca shake come through clearly." - Jon Pareles, New York Times
For over twenty years, ethnomusicologist Dr. Emanuel Dufrasne González and his wife, the amazing singer Nelie Lebrón Robles, have worked to preserve and promote the musical traditions of southern Puerto Rico, many of which were in danger of being lost forever. Applying what they'd learned in the field to an ensemble of drummers, musicians, singers and dancers, Paracumbé made their research come alive. Originally a workshop group, the members of Paracumbe include professors, schoolteachers, dance and music teachers, students, and office workers -- all of whom carry in their hearts a tremendous desire to explore and revive the roots of Aro-Puerto Rican music and dance.
“Paracumbé, magical Paracumbé, is the thunder that affirms that Puerto Rico also has a drum, that the art of the drum has been cultivated in Boriquén as a national instrument in all its diverse forms. Paracumbé is also a group of ancestral voices; echoes of more than 400 years of history, vibrating with the softness of cotton, the sweetness of honey, the aroma of cojóbana and the sound of the waves of the southern sea."
"Paracumbé is the shout of southern Puerto Rico. The drums speak with the voices of the stone hills, covered with long lines of trees. It is the voice of the fairy queen and her court of nymphs. Paracumbe is plenas, aguinaldos and guarachas; and Paracumbé is bomba: cunyás, güembés, lerós and belénes.” ~Emanuel Dufrasne González