Inspiring, For Real
Quetzal reawakens a musical call for community
Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr.
??Sing the Real? is the name of the album, about singing what is real and relevant to the community. Back to a story-telling perspective, issues, people, struggles. Every song has a different perspective and feel. We?re back to making music that socially relevant.?
Published on LatinoLA: March 5, 2002
I?m on the phone with Quetzal Flores, multi-intrumentalist, founder and songwriter of Quetzal and Martha Gonzalez, lead vocalist and percussionist. They talk quickly, in unison, words overlapping, thoughts interchanging.
My notes are a blur. I don?t really know who said what. And as I write, a simple refrain repeats, repeats: ?Sing the real, sing the real, sing the real.?
?It?s about balance, by staying in tune with things that are going on, around the world. Allowing ourselves to be influenced.?
They?re talking about their just-released CD, entitled ?Sing the Real?, their second full length recording and the first on an established major label, Vanguard. It?s a step, no, make that two, maybe three steps up from their first album.
From the opening notes of the swirling dueting violins on the drum ?n bass influenced ?The Social Relavance of Public Art? to the last thumps of the congas on the closing ?Matanzas?, Quetzal the group has created a work that speaks to the modern, with crystalline sonic enhancements and precise instrumental separations, as it does to the traditional, melding history, culture and the universal ideals of justice, truth and love.
But more than anything, ?Sing the Real? is an uncompromising testament to the high values of community and unity, brought to life by talented, hardworking young men and women who have developed as master singers, songwriters and musicians.
And though Martha?s angelicly strong voice is, more often than not, at the forefront, every member of Quetzal has a place, the space, to shine and excel: again, the wistful violin tandem of Rocio Marron and Yunior Terry, the rhythmic cohesion of drummer Kiko Cornejo and bassist Edson Gianesi, acoustic strings by Quetzal and electric virtuosities by Ray Sandoval. And then there?s Gabriel Gonzalez, whose voice emerges from the background to chilling effect on several songs, most especially ?Cenzontle?.
This band works hard, and it shows. They?ve come up from the community, and they continue giving back. They wear their politics on their collective sleeves, and although at times it makes for awkward poetry, it can?t be said that you don?t know where Quetzal stands and what they stand for.
?It?s about having an impact on many different communities, communities of struggle, and being inspired.?
Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr.:
Abelardo de la Pe?a Jr. is the editor.