Introducing … ONDATRÓPICA

ImageWho and what is the exotically named Ondatrópica? Barbara Belt elaborates

Ondatrópica is the name of both this Very Interesting Band and the Colombian/UK, British Council-backed project that gave birth to it.

The first phase of said project focused on creating and recording an impressive collective of Colombian traditional and modern musicians, using South America’s answer to Abbey Road, the legendary Disco Fuentes studio.

Brit producer Will Holland, AKA Quantic, and Colombian musician Mario Galeano, Frente Cumbiero’s main man, were the instigators, getting together 42 of Colombia’s most creative artists in the Discos Fuentes Studio in Medellin.

Will Holland moved to Cali, Colombia in 2007. “My father died on Christmas Day and I wanted a change.” Originally he was going for six months, but he got hooked on a city of obsessive music fans and a musical heritage reflecting the country’s history.

“The mix here is interesting. African drums with Indian flutes. Boats were in and out with merchandise from Africa, before going on to Cuba. Sailors came from Jamaica and Haiti, so you find a whole spectrum of African, Caribbean, jazz and rock. People got hooked on jazz records that came in, there’s a lot of jazz on the coast.”

The Ondatrópica project has involved young talent meeting up with musicians who have been established names since the Sixties. The aim of this get together, according to director Mario Galeano, has been “to re-interpret the tropical musical heritage of Colombia with new approaches in composition, arrangement and production… The live sessions were all recorded in a single take and now connect these generations of musical heritage forever.”

The 2012 Ondatrópica album’s musicians were of five-star pedigree, with some names I’d cross the Atlantic to see if I had the dosh. Their legacy will be right here on our stage on Sunday, thanks to an inspired bit of booking.

“Frente Cumbiero and Quantic bring this fascinating project to life on stage, with an intoxicating mix of South American sounds, Latin grooves, electro and driving, funky London beats. Sitting still won’t be an option during the live performance of Ondatrópica,” promises Colombian music publication Cartel Urbano.

Brits would probably call what Ondatrópica belt out ‘salsa’, but it’s an eclectic mix of traditional forms like cumbia, porro, gaita and champeta laced with dub, funk, hip-hop beat box and ska and a touch of South and Central America’s ever present reggaeton.

The band we’ll see at West Holts is a high octane line up, consisting of: Will Holland, director, guitar and accordion; Mario Galeano director and bass; Nidia Gongora and Marcos Micolta, vocals; Michi Sarmiento, vocals and sax; Jorge Gaviria plays trumpet; Alfredito Linares will delight us on piano; Wilson Viveros, drums and percussion and Freddy Colorado, percussion.

Remember, it’s all in the hips. See you all out front for a bop.

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