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A Wish for Peace

Cumbeley brings a special message wrapped in rhythm

By Katharine A. D?az
Published on LatinoLA: September 28, 2002


A Wish for Peace


Joe Cumb? (his artistic name) has always been surrounded by music. But three to four years ago it wasn?t necessarily tropical music that he was involved in. As a composer and musician, rock and other genres seemed to occupy his time. Then a spark was lit, and Cumb? found himself pulled more and more toward the music of his native Cali, Colombia.

Perhaps it was because after having left Colombia several decades ago, the magic of its music was reasserting itself in its native son. Or maybe it was, as Cumb? himself explains it, he was inspired by the peace movement in Colombia and felt compelled to write about his homeland in the rhythms that matched it the best. ?Songs just started coming out of me,? says Cumb?.

Whatever, the results were a new band, a new recording, and the start of something good. The name of the group is Cumbeley?a play on words. ?Cumb?? is an African word for ?cumbia,? the best known of Colombia?s rhythms, and ?eley? is a play on ?L.A.? for Los Angeles.

The group is made up of musicians that Cumb? has admired over the years, including Latino and non-Latino artists with experience in a wide array of genres. They include Alex Acevedo, Brian Bastidas, Tino Anserma, Diego Jim?nez, and Germ?n Jim?nez. The group has played at venues such as the Conga Room and has traveled to San Diego and Southland universities. (Guest artists include Guillermo Bordaramp?, Ramiro Garc?a, Jim Cowger, Ulises Pineda, and Fernando Palomino.)

Response to the group?s freshman release, titled Guayabo Nost?lgico, has been nothing but positive. Out for little over a year, it has gotten airplay on KXLU, KPFK and stations in San Francisco, Orlando, and Miami. While it might not hit the listener right away, this is an album with a message.

Cumb? had a specific idea in mind when he crafted it. ?I wanted to do a concept album,? says Cumb?, ?a throw back to the music of the seventies in which several songs on a recording are all inter-related, including the art, the total package.? In this case, the message of the album is pro-peace and the importance of working for social justice.

The important messages on this CD are easy to swallow. The music is upbeat and was made for dancing. Since the release of the CD, and at gigs his new band performs at, Cumb? notes that people do indeed jump up and dance right away. At the same time, he observes that some people in the audience are captivated by the message right away. ?There is always that person,? says Cumb?, ?who comes up to me and says, ?I finally get what you are trying to say.??

Cumb??s favorite tracks are ?Cumbeley,? which traces the roots of cumbia from Africa to Colombia; and ?Fe, Esperanza y Paz,? which is like a hymn?a wish for peace in Colombia.

Cumb? has already started conceptualizing his next CD. What the central theme will be is undecided. It could be related to what it means to be bilingual and bicultural. It could reflect the theme that music, like life, has no borders, ?and that we are all in this together.?

?I am reconnecting to my roots and cultural heritage,? says Cumb?, ?but I don?t want to stay there. I want to talk about the immigrant experience. And I hope my children will be able to see a different place than the one I saw when I was a child.? And, yes, it will be very danceable.

To learn more about the group and where you can find the CD, visit http://www.cumbeley.com.


About Katharine A. D?az:
This article appears courtesy of Sabor Magazine, covering the world of salsa entertainment. For more information, visit http://www.sabormagazine.com




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