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Grupo Rebolu: Colombian

Posted Aug. 20, 2012, at 1:58 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2012, at 11:29 a.m.

Grupo Rebolú, of New York City, is an Afro-Colombian musical ensemble comprised of some of the finest Colombian musicians in the United States. The group was created from the desire of Ronald Polo (vocalist/composer/gaitero) and Morris Canate (master folkloric percussionist) to promote the rich musical traditions of their ancestors, the Afro descendants of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. It is their belief that these folkloric traditions should continually evolve over time and with the ideas of new generations of folklorists. This belief is reflected in their music, which features Afro-Colombian rhythms such as Gaita, Tambora, Chalupa, and Bullerengue.

Polo and Cañate grew up together in Barranquilla, Colombia. These childhood friends enrolled together in the Escuela de Música de Barranquilla, Carlos Franco. Cañate, who comes from a family of traditional musicians and dancers, enrolled thanks to the encouragement of his aunt, who was an instructor there. Polo’s brother encouraged him to join, and he soon decided that music would be his life.

The friends began as dancers at the school. After winning their category at Barranquilla’s annual carnival, they continued broadening their artistic skills. By age 17, they had recorded their first CD, and the school recommended their group to travel internationally. A group of 30 performed Colombia’s traditional music — and some of Polo’s original music — in France, Spain, Portugal, China, and Japan. This helped shape the young men’s lives, and when they arrived in the U.S. years later, they planned and launched their new group, Grupo Rebolú, which included vocalist Johanna Castañeda.

With their belief of folklore always evolving, Polo’s compositions have remained tied to their music’s Colombian roots while introducing new perspectives on it. Grupo Rebolú is said to be North America’s most original and danceable Colombian music experience. Their original compositions and arrangements of classic Afro-Colombian music create a modern cultural event rooted in the Carnaval de Barranquilla — soulful yet joyous dance music guaranteed to keep you moving.

From traditional songs to original compositions, Grupo Rebolú’s repertoire is loaded with energy, history and danceability. Their unique reinterpretations of traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms such as Gaita, Tambora, Chalupa and Bullerengue, among others, make it extremely well suited not only for festivals and cultural events but also for nightclubs.

Grupo Rebolú’s members include: Ronald Polo (lead vocals, arranger, gaita), Morris Cañate (percussionist [tambor alegre]), Juan Pablo Calvo (drums), Luis Guzman (bass), Juan Pablo Uribe (saxophone), and Johanna Castaneda (minor percussion/vocals), Albert J. Leusink (trumpet), Alejandro Florez (guitar and tiple [Colombian guitar]), and Farid L. Suarez (maraca and llamador drum).

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