La Voz Del Mar
Xiomara Torres comes from a respected musical family in the Pacific Northwest of Columbia. With American vibraphonist Dan Neville, she has crafted La Voz Del Mar as a tribute to her recently departed uncle, Diego Obregón, a revered marimba player, instrument builder, and repository of música del Pacífico. Xiomara told a reporter “The project’s foundation is rooted in Maestro Diego and all the music he gave us. It’s about showing and pushing the full artistic range of Afro-Colombian music.”
As a gringo music critic, I’ll take Torres’s word that there are sounds in her music very specific to the Cali region of Colombia. My knowledge of Latin music is limited to that of an appreciative outsider. What I can tell you is that Torres and Neville bring the megawatts to their sound system. The songs crackle with energy, spiked by marimba rhythms, jazz horns, and call-and-response vocals. The rhythms are infectious enough to make even a cadaver sway.
“Tio” is the tent pole of this show. The song playfully blends the marimba rhythms with Xiomara’s vocals and the swinging horns. The tune is a loving tribute to her late uncle. The odd track out is an English-language cover of the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” At first I thought it was just a crass attempt to catch the attention of American program directors. Maybe it is, but the salsa rendition of the rock classic is harmless fun and could be a good gateway drug to the more soulful sounds found in the rest of the tracks.