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Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani HISTORICO

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keberoxu 15 Feb 16 - 05:19 PM
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Subject: Travesura: Inti Illimani Historico
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Feb 16 - 05:19 PM

This will take more than one post because I don't have all the info that respect demands.

This album was recorded about ten years ago -- definitely after 2005 -- in Chile. It is a studio album, not a live one. Outside of the country of origin, it is possible to find this compact disc, although there are complications. I found a copy at amazon dot com, with which I am troubled....there are no liner notes, no credits, AND the thing says it is a product of amazon dot com in the US of A, NOT a product of Discos Macondo in Chile which actually published the album in the first place. So, I'm not happy about the product in that respect.

"Inti Illimani Historico" means: the brothers Coulon are NOT here, as they are in the Inti Illimani which does NOT use the word Historico.

Those present are:
the old-timers, Horacio Duran (charango), Jose Seves ( a little of everything, esp vocals and songwriting), Horacio Salinas (music director, composer, and a little of everything else).
The youngsters are Salinas's son Camilo Salinas, playing piano, accordion, something that sounds like a Casio keyboard, and probably singing;
I've forgotten their names but the drums/percussion and bass are contemporaries of the younger Salinas.

Last, but far from least, Jorge Ball, Venezuelan luthier, guitarist, and flute/quena player.

"Travesura" can be translated more than one way. The English word "mischief" pleases me, but may not be the most accurate. The theme is childhood, or nostalgia for childhood on the part of the parents of children.

Because my hands are getting cold, I have to keep this post short. There will be more. I'll close by remarking that this is not Inti-Illimani at its most reactionary firebrand Resistencia extreme. It is mellow, measured, subtle. The music and the words alike take time to grow on you. The childlike qualities are not only the playfulness of children but the tenderness of fathers and grandfathers -- the three old-time Inti-Illimani members are old enough to have grandchildren, and at least one is indeed a grandfather.

Notable guest appearances by Eva Ayllon and Diego El Cigala.

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Subject: Cajita de Olinalá
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 12:55 PM

Gabriela Mistral's poem, Cajita de Olinalá is the basis for one of the Travesura tracks. Google the name of the poem, and pictures will come up. These little ornamental boxes are sold to tourists, and they are extremely colorful. The poem is lyrical and the melody is simple and tenderly sung. Because of the disrespectful packaging, no information is given on who wrote the music.

That it is a poem of Gabriela Mistral, comes not from the non-existent liner notes, but from the book La Cancion en el Sombrero, in which music director Horacio Salinas reviews each album that Inti Illimani released -- proceeding to his present group, Inti Illimani Historico, and this album.

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 01:30 PM

The late Chilean composer Luis Advis is one of the sources of inspiration that caused Inti Illimani Historico to conceive of an album in tribute to childhood. Again, nothing says so in the compact disc liner notes. However, from "La Cancion en el Sombrero":

quoting Horacio Salinas
One of us had a cassette tape called "Cachencho en la playa," with songs composed by "Lucho" Advis in the early 1970s.
"Introduccion Musical" is in reality the introduction on the "Cachencho en la playa" cassette, constructed by Advis in order to demonstrate diverse musical motifs which are to appear later in individual songs. We [Inti Illimani Historico] put this introduction as the final track on the compact disc, because it is "una travesura" -- a trick, a mischief. endquote

Luis Advis was a Nueva Cancion exponent during his lifetime, and Inti Illimani worked with him before the years of European exile. If I am not mistaken, it was the composer Advis who took poetry of Violeta Parra, poems which Parra herself had not set to music, and composed an album-length cycle of song of Parra's poetry, "canto para una semilla" (1972).

Advis had passed away in 2004, and so he was dead by the time Inti-Illimani Historico came together to record Travesura; some, if not all, of the album could be considered a tribute to Advis and to the work that he and Inti-Illimani had done together thirty years earlier.

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Subject: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani Historico
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 01:41 PM

Most of Travesura's thirteen tracks are vocals, with lyrics.

"Introduccion Musical" is an exception, an instrumental, in which Jorge Ball's flute leads the charge, taking the melody (mostly).

There are three other instrumentals on Travesura. The title track is one; it opens the compact disc. Salinas composed it in a meter of 5/8, which is executed smoothly and professionally.

The other two instrumentals are Salinas' "Bicicletas", mostly guitar and percussion; and Jorge Ball's   "Manaures Walzer," which is indeed a waltz.

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Subject: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani Historico
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 12:59 PM

One outstanding song on the Travesura album is "A mi no me cumbén."

This is a traditional child's game, from Peru, and I believe it is particular to "Afro-Peruana" culture, to the black Peruvian descendants of African slaves from the colonial era. Thus, this upbeat little song is bubbling with Afro-Peruvian rhythms; a very busy layer of multiple percussion instruments, and the other instruments also buoyed along by syncopated, sub-divided patterns.

Afro-Peruvian music has numerous well-respected figureheads, known in South America, maybe not as well-known north of Mexico. I had heard, for example, of the elegant Susana Baca, and seen her polished, subtle presentations on television. The guest artist on Inti-Illimani's rendition of "A mi no me cumbén" is not Baca, but Eva Ayllon, who has represented Afro-Peruvian music for decades. She is as different from Susana Baca as, say, Tina Turner is different from Dionne Warwick.

According to Horacio Salinas (La Cancion en mi Sombrero), Ayllon happened to be in Chile while Inti-Illimani Historico was recording "Travesura," and the decision to have her guest vocal in the song was a very hurried one -- normally she is in her native Peru instead.

The song lyric / child's game is all about who a little girl ought to marry when she grows up. Rough summary:

Men's chorus:
Why not get married to a wine-seller?

Eva Ayllon:
That wine-seller will not get married to me.
Wine-sellers sell bottles,
and he could sell me too.

Men's chorus:
Why not get married to a carpenter?

Eva Ayllon:
That carpenter will not get married to me.
Carpenters cut wood,
and he could cut me too.

Men's chorus:
Why not get married to a baker?

Eva Ayllon:
That baker will not get married to me.
Bakers grind flour,
and he could grind me up too!
No way am I getting married to him!

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Subject: Afro-Peruvian Festejo: "No Me Cumbén"
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 03:52 PM

There is a lot of backstory to "A mí no me cumbén."

The following are excerpts from "Black Rhythms of Peru" by Heidi Carolyn Feldman, published by Wesleyan Univ. Press.

about Nicomedes Santa Cruz, beginning page 88 (quote):
"As a child in the late nineteenth century, the mother of Nicomedes Santa Cruz lived across the street from a tavern that was a meeting place and competition ground for 'decimistas' (poets who would compete with each other in public), and years later her children would hear her performing décimas while washing clothes....Nicomedes' mother stopped singing after she suffered a heart condition. Thus Nicomedes' relationship with the décima was interrupted when he was a child, only to be renewed during his later mentorship with Don Porfirio Vásquez.

page 89 (quote):
Nicomedes Santa Cruz met Don Porfirio Vásquez in 1945. He became what he described as a "coffee-house docent" to Don Porfirio, studying the rules of décima composition and learning about the rural Black communities that had preserved the competitive art....Yet, after several years of talking only "in décimas or about décimas" with Don Porfirio, Nicomedes realized that his only potential rivals were a few old men in their eighties who lived in small towns....
In 1955, Nicomedes began to write "solo" décimas that addressed contemporary national and international issues. The next year....he closed his metal shop and traveled throughout Latin America reciting décimas and searching for his destiny. He roamed from town to town in northern Peru and Ecuador, performing décimas for birthday celebrations, weddings, and tavern gatherings. When he returned to Lima [Peru] that year, Nicomedes began reciting his décimas on the radio, and shortly thereafter, on national television....'From this point on,' he said in an interview, 'everything I compose has a vision that is folkloric, but also of "negritude." '

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 04:12 PM

Continuing Heidi Carolyn Feldman's (abbreviated) narrative in her book, "Black Rhythms of Peru":

page 91
In 1959, Nicomedes published the first printed book of Peruvian décimas, and he went on to publish...'La décima en el Perú,' an in-depth history and analysis of the poetic form with more than 300 pages of collected décimas dating from the colonial period to the contemporary era, including many transcribed from oral performances or the unpublished 'cuadernos [notebooks]' of legendary poets.
Thus Nicomedes 'went public' with the jealously guarded secrets of the décima, previously passed down from master to student and hidden away in 'cuadernos.' After perfecting his technique and developing a repertoire, Nicomedes brought the décima out of oblivion and into the public consciousness. Using a highly complex Spanish[-language] poetic form, he broke the barrier of Black Peruvian invisibility.

page 92
Reviving the 'Festejo': "A mí no me cumbén"

In 1958, Nicomedes founded the theater company Cumanana, which he used as a vehicle to bring his recited décimas -- now infused with "a rebellious and proud negritude" -- to the mainstream public. In addition to providing a public forum for his décimas, Cumanana was a showcase of...research on Black music and dances. One of the most important and enduring genres staged in Cumanana's productions was the 'festejo.'

page 93
True to the 'festejo' 's name (derived from the Spanish word 'festejar,' which means 'to celebrate'), although most 'festejo' lyrics depict the hardships of slave life, the music and dancing express an exuberant, joyful quality....In the 1960's, only a few elderly Black Peruvians remembered seeing the early-twentieth century 'festejo' danced.

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 04:44 PM

Heidi Carolyn Feldman, "Black Rhythms of Peru"

page 94
Under Nicomedes Santa Cruz' direction, first theatrical production featured a 'festejo' that he had collected and revived. Nicomedes did not publicly reveal how he had learned this song, and later recordings attribute its composition to Nicomedes himself. 'A mí no me cumbén' was performed as part of the theatrical sketch 'La pelona' in 1960, and Cumanana recorded it in 1964.

pp. 95 - 96
The [opening] lyrics of "A mí no me cumbén" are provocative, providing a striking commentary on Peruvian ideas on race and marriage:

No me casará con negra               I won't marry a Black woman
ni aunque el diablo me llevara             even if the devil dragged me
porque tienen los ojos blancos             because they have white eyes
y la bemba colorada                         and big red mouths

Como aquella que está sentada!       Like that one sitting down!
Como aquella que está parada!       Like that one standing up!

Tampoco me casaría                   I wouldn't marry a man
con mulato o zambo-claro                   with light skin and mixed blood
porque dejan a los negritos                because they abandon little Black children
por las de 'cara lavada'                   for women whose faces have the Blackness '[white-]washed out' of them

Como aquel que está sentado!         Like that one sitting down!
Como aquel que está parado!          Like that one standing up!

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 07:15 PM

again, this book is published by Wesleyan University Press. Author: Heidi Carolyn Feldman
title: "Black Rhythms of Peru"

continued quotes

page 96

According to Nicomedes Santa Cruz, these lyrics were sung as part of a game played by Black children in Lima [Peru] up until the 1920's. The preceding verses, in the beginning, would be sung by one solo singer. When the soloist came to the line of verse, "Like that one sitting down," she or he pointed to a child who was sitting down, and that child immediately stood up to escape being "the one" alluded to by the lyrics.
In the latter half of the song [verses roughly summarized in earlier messages on this thread], the boys offered potential suitors to the girls: bottle-maker, carpenter, baker. The girls turned each of them down saying "a mí no me cumbén" or "that doesn't suit me at all" for a variety of comic reasons, such as bottle-makers sell bottles, he could sell me too; carpenters cut wood, he could cut me too; and so on.
Nicomedes' revival of "A mí no me cumbén" resulted in its rebirth and continued performance in Peru.

page 97
Between 1908 and 1932, when the game "A mí no me cumbén" was popular among Black children, Blacks were the Peruvian racial group second most likely (after Asian males) to intermarry....Because Nicomedes identified the song as part of a game played by Blacks in Lima, it can easily be imagined that its performance socialized Black children to avoid being identified with stereotyped characteristics....
Why, then, did Nicomedes Santa Cruz, a proud champion of "negritude," revive this seemingly racist children's game? Understood in the context of this revival, Nicomedes' use of this 'festejo' reveals a second possible reading. If taken literally, the racist lyrics demean Blacks and urge others not to marry them. However, if the lyrics are understood as satirical, they ridicule the attitudes of those who are afraid of marrying Blacks by comparing their reasons with others that are equally absurd.

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Subject: Travesura: Inti-Illimani HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 09:29 PM

Then there is the Venezuelan poetry of Aquiles Nazoa, deceased. Before his life was cut short by an automobile accident, Nazoa was a prolific writer.

Horacio Salinas never does explain (in his book) how he first came across Nazoa's poems. He was a young adult when he acquired, in Chile, a "slender pamphlet of about 80 pages", all by Nazoa, poetry for children or about childhood.

Salinas does admit, in his biography, to a powerful attachment to this small book of poems. He goes on to say that when Inti-Illimani found themselves in exile, in Europe, the little book was back in Chile with family or friends. He persisted, long-distance, in petitioning his loved ones in Chile to send Nazoa's booklet to him in Italy! And eventually they did.

Two of the Travesura songs are Nazoa poems set to music by Horacio Salinas, and intended to emphasize the theme of children and childhood, and the playfulness and mischief "travesura."

"Lineas para un retrato" is one, with the entire "chorus" of singers. The one I prefer is "Mi papá y mamá."

Horacio Salinas, whose singing voice heretofore concealed itself in the chorus, sings the latter song, supported by the chorus. He has the thinnest, most nasal little voice to sing with -- he sings true, but it just isn't more than a very modest instrument, like speaking on pitch.

But when he sings/speaks Nazoa's words praising his papa and his mama, it is really affecting. And the music is deceptive; it sounds simple, but it gets under your skin.

Oh, and that is Camilo Sanchez, Horacio's adult son, playing the keyboards: born and raised in exile.

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 03:07 PM

The fifth track on Travesura is "La tarara."

The first track being an instrumental, it follows that if one is playing the compact disc straight through, "La tarara" is the fourth song, the fourth track with vocals.

It will immediately sound different because none of the Inti-Illimani voices are singing it, although the band's instrumentalists rally around in a tasteful, affectionate arrangement.

Diego "El Cigala," a flamenco singer of some note, is the guest artist, and he does the singing all by himself. He sounds like nobody else on this recording.

Because "La tarara" will not be in the US Public Domain before the year 2057, according to the online Petrucci Music Library, I hesitate to print even the lyrics here. The compiler who collected a series of children's songs, then mixed them together to suit himself, is none other than Federico García Lorca; the lyric is published with music by Union Musica Española.

This modest tune about a girl dancing and her skirts swaying around and catching the poet's eye (if my Spanish counts for anything) has been recorded more than once. Significantly, one of the many record albums by the late flamenco singer, El Camarón de la Isla, includes La tarara. This is a singer to whom other singers listen closely, and it is not surprising that Diego "El Cigala" 's vocal is reminiscent of Camarón's style of singing.

Horacio Salinas tells his own tale. He says that where he grew up, in a somewhat rural part of Chile, the family house, modest though it was, had a piano, with sheet music on it; and García Lorca's "La Tarara" was one of the pieces, and was often sung by his family in the house. So Salinas had personal reasons to associate this song with childhood.

When Diego "El Cigala" happened to be visiting Chile during Inti-Illimani's recording process, the singer and Salinas were introduced and spoke hastily about what he might sing with them. According to Salinas, he himself mentioned the folksong to the singer, who replied (in Spanish): Very good, everybody else has recorded this song except for me already, so we can do that one.

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Mar 16 - 06:38 PM

Here is an English translation of the lyrics of the fourth Travesura track.

DANZA NEGRA (sung in the original Spanish)

Black wood and bamboo. Bamboo and black wood.

The He-Muckamuck sings: Too coo too.
The She-Muckamuck sings: Toe co toe.
It's the branding-iron sun's burn in Timbuktu.
It's the black dance danced on Fernando Po.
The mud-fest hog grunts: pru pru pru.
The bog-wet toad dreams: cro cro cro.

Black wood and bamboo. Bamboo and black wood.

Ju-ju strings strum a tempest of OO.
Tom-toms thrum with dark bass OH.
It's wave on wave of the black race in
the broad rhythm of mariyanda.
Chieftains join the feasting now.
The Negress dances, dances entranced.

Black wood and bamboo. Bamboo and black wood.

The He-Muckamuck sings: Too coo too.
The She-Muckamuck sings: Toe co toe.
Red lands pass by, bootblack islands:
Haiti, Martinique, Congo, Cameroon;
the papiamiento Antilles of rum,
the patois isles of the volcano,
in rhythmic abandon
to dark-voweled song.

Black wood and bamboo. Bamboo and black wood.

It's the branding-iron sun's burn in Timbuktu.
It's the black dance danced on Fernando Po.
It's the African soul that is vibrating in
the broad rhythm of the mariyanda.

Black wood and bamboo. Bamboo and black wood.

English translation by Julio Marzán from the
original Spanish by Luis Palés Matos.
copyright Julio Marzán. Artes Publicos Press, Houston, Texas, 2000

This is an example of poesía afroantillana, for which the poet of origin is noted: Puerto Rican native Luis Palés Matos, 1898 - 1959. Marzán writes, in his introduction to the collected poems of Palés Matos, that the poem "Danza Negra", of all this poet's works, is the poem most likely to turn up in anthologies of poetry.

Regarding Inti Illimani Histórico: Horacio Salinas states that the group member who takes the lead vocal on this song, José Seves, is the composer of its musical setting.

"Fernando Po," by the way, was an island notorious for its chief industry, the African slave trade. (Marzán)

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Mar 16 - 01:42 PM

English translation for Gabriela Mistral (Track 12)

Cajita de Olinalá

My little box
from Olinalá
is rosewood
and jacaranda
When suddenly I
open it, it exudes
a Queen-of-Sheba

O! what a taste, so tropical --
Clove, mahogany
of branches above!

I leave it here,
I leave it there,
it comes and goes
through corridors.

When the night comes
so that it guards me from wrong,

I place it near my head
where others put their charm.

Beautiful visions
that make you dream,
make you smile,
make you cry.

Hand in hand
goes the sea
with the twin mountains
and the ploughed fields.

Coffee pots bubble
just like the country;
Cactus, deer,
Quail, oh so pretty.

The volcanoes
of regal crowns
and the aerial Indian
like corn renown.

They paint it thus
without a word
Indian fingers
or hummingbird.

And thus it is made
by a precise hand,
Hand of Aztec,
Hand of Quetzal.

My little box from Olinalá
is rose and jacaranda.

Translator is Karen Patricia Peña
copyright 2007 Legenda publ.

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Mar 16 - 12:05 PM

"Quinteto del tren" is a piece of music from "Cachencho en la playa," referenced several posts back in this thread. The latter is a record album (on cassette, says Horacio Salinas) based on the "Cachencho" television program for children in Chile. Composer Luis Advis, also referenced earlier, composed the music for that cassette album. It appears that Advis also wrote the lyrics, as I cannot find credits for a different lyricist.

"Cachencho en la playa" is NOT an Inti-Illimani product. Inti-Illimani was in its infancy, just getting started, when the television show "Cachencho" was being watched in households of children in their native country. An important point here is the time and history period. This album had already been published, and at least one copy was collected by an Inti-Illimani member, when the band left in the 1970's on that fateful tour which found them in Rome, Italy when Allende was assassinated. Therefore, the television show, the album, and composer Luis Advis are all links to the Chile that no longer exists, from which Inti-Illimani was exiled for roughly fifteen years.

There is more. The adult actor who played the very childlike character of Cachencho was -- I think I have the name right -- Fernando Gallardo; he had a career of some variety, but it seems that the role of Cachencho made him a household face/name. Gallardo had a sister named Ligea, who became....the wife of Horacio Durán, who plays the Bolivian charango and was one of the co-founders, with Jorge Coulon and Max Berrú, of the band that became Inti-Illimani. White-haired Durán, a tall large-framed man who dwarfs the miniature-sized charango strapped to his chest, is also the musician who, many years in the past, courted the big sister of Horacio Salinas, and persistently invited Salinas -- still a teenager -- to bring his guitar and join his brand-new, no-name musical group. Which, of course, became Inti-Illimani.

There was just time, after Inti-Illimani was permitted to end its exile and return to its native country of Chile, for Horacio Durán and Ligea Gallardo Durán to enjoy Fernando Gallardo's presence in their lives for a little while, and for Horacio Salinas, now the band's musical director and a full-fledged composer in his own right, to have a happy reunion with aging composer Luis Advis. Just enough time, and then Advis died, followed by Fernando "Cachencho" Gallardo. Advis was old, and his death was natural. Gallardo was not so old, and was stricken with terminal illness and suffered a mournful ordeal on his deathbed. Mass media announcements of Gallardo's death, showed a color photograph of the wake: the wooden coffin, closed rather than open, high off the floor in what appears to be the family home. Next to the coffin, seated in chairs, two stricken mourners: the dead man's surviving sister Ligea, and her equally grief-wracked husband, Señor Durán.

Thus, "Quinteto del Tren," which reminds me of one of those lightning-fast ensemble finales in an "opera buffa" by Rossini, summons deep and conflicting emotions, joyful piece though it is, in the elder statesmen of Inti-Illimani Histórico, who faithfully recorded composer Luis Advis' exact arrangement on their album "Travesura." In fact, an interview for the Latin-American website, in their native Spanish, remarked on a live performance in which the piece was introduced to the audience by Horacio Durán himself, who choked up while speaking. Bandmate Salinas explained in the interview, "It's because his wife Ligea was Gallardo's sister, and also he (Durán) just became a grandfather, so this is an emotional moment for him."

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Mar 16 - 05:03 PM

"Drume Negrita" is a lullaby that is meant to evoke the accent with which Spanish was spoken and sung by the African slaves shipped to Cuba. This, like "A mi no me cumben," is another piece of music with a history all its own, and has been through too many incarnations and versions to mention here. Authorship is credited to Eliseo Grenet, a Cuban composer, although some writers insist that the song is folklore which Grenet appropriated and arranged. Horacio Salinas has based the Inti-Illimani version on a guitar transcription by Leo Brouwer, a Cuban composer of a more recent generation -- so Salinas says in "La canción en el sombrero."

From, comes an English translation volunteered by "Evelyn." This website carries a copyright date of 2016 in the name of Lisa Yannucci.

Mama the feet of the little black baby girl
come out of the cradle
and the black woman Mercé [Mercedes?]
doesn't know what to do

Sleep black baby girl
And I will buy for you a new cradle
Complete with a cover for the top
and a baby rattle

If you sleep, I will bring you
a bright red-colored "mamey" [fruit?]
If you don't sleep, I will send for
the Santeria babalao who will give you a spanking

Sleep black baby girl....

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Subject: RE: Review: Travesura: Inti Illimani HISTORICO
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Aug 16 - 01:08 PM

Have finally got my hands on a copy of this compact disc, which has been distributed in a way respectful to the artists and their management.

Even though the album "Travesura" was published in 2010 at the latest, and possibly recorded a little earlier, the product in my hands says:
© 2014, Plaza Independencia SPA
[in Spanish: under license of] Discos Macondo (the management for Inti-Illimani Histórico)
That's what it says on the card-stock packaging.
The actual compact disc says:
© 2014, Plaza Independencia SPA
[in Spanish: under license of] Calaluna

This disc was bought and shipped from Chile through an online vendor. The disc that I bought earlier, and described in earlier posts, was a domestic (US) purchase.

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