The Journal Sentinel, Milwakee. January 28, 1998
By Edmund S. Tijerina
|The sounds of Sukay have traveled through nearly 5000 years, thousands of miles and
the barriers of language and understanding, in order to produce a lush blend of textures,
tones, rhythms and styles that continually evokes the cultures of the Andes. Sukay means
"to open the earth and prepare it for planting" in the Quechua language.
In a performance Friday night, this San Francisco based group showed the beauty and lyricism inherent in the traditional musical forms of South America, while blending it with contemporary additions.Their instruments are wooden pan pipes known as sikus, flutes called kenas, and a small 10-string, guitar-like instrument called the charango, made from the shell of an armadillo. Together, they produce a sound that charms with its richness and haunts with an ever-present sense of history.
What sets this group apart from other Andean groups is their willingness to bring in other instruments and add musical layers that breathe new life into their traditional sound. In this performance, they included bongo drums, an electric mandolin and violin. And it works. Whether they played traditional Andean melodies, originals songs or even Mozart played on guitar and charango (you have to see it to believe it), they maintained their musical intensity and their love for what they play.
Charango master Eddy Navia elicited sounds that brought to mind mandolins, harps and even dulcimers. Quentin Howard, the groups director and lead vocalist, provided not only the grounding for many of the songs, but some funny banter between songs, always poking fun at those on high in her ancestral homepoliticians, soldiers, educated professionals. Its obvious their hearts, as well as their instruments, are with the campesinos, the poor and dispossessed of their ancient lands. These people and their music have survived the Spanish conquistadors, military juntas and even the onslaught of modernity.
As long as their songs stay alive in groups such as Sukay, their voices will never be silenced.
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Sukay World Music, Suite 523, 3450 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA
Tel/415 646-0018 Fax/415 646-0066
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