Perú Negro


Perú Negro is an Afro-Peruvian music and dance company—or, rather, I should say the Afro-Peruvian music and dance company—that has existed for over 30 years, since being born in 1969 during Peru’s Afro-Peruvian cultural revival. As the liner notes for Jolgorio tell us, “membership [in Perú Negro] has long been a goal and an emblem of success for most young [Peruvian] blacks.” Jolgorio is a vibrant collection of dance songs in traditional Afro-Peruvian styles, among them the Festejo, the Landó and the Alcatraz, a folkloric dance dating from slavery days. A cornucopia of percussion instruments—congas, bongos, djembe, cajón (box drum), cajitas (little box drums worn around the neck), quijada (donkey jawbone), bells and whistles, etc.—drives the festive music, along with guitars, vocals (“Negrito” features a choir of cheerful children’s voices, for example) and an occasional flute, violin and/or bass. Vocalist Monica Dueñas launches the first track, “Cómo Cantan, Cómo Bailan los Negros,” with great gusto. Her deep, rich voice and exuberantly rolling “r”s set the tone for this lively and passionate album.Perú Negro will be appearing at Laxson Auditorium on the Chico State campus Thursday, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.