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Judge for Gato + Palenke Music Co.

Takoma Park, MD
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Portrait of Gato + Palenke Music Co.
Gato + The Palenke Music Co. is a seven-member band with a unique sound, created and polished during six intense years of live performances at bars, festivals, and parties. This ensemble of three Peruvians, one Salvadorian, one Paraguayan, and two Colombians has a new musical proposal inspired by the musicians’ diverse backgrounds and influences, which is presented in “La Situación”, the band’s first album-CD.

During the first four years together, from 2002 to 2006, the band played mostly covers, a formula that worked for a while. Once the band’s distinctive sound was achieved, Jaime Andrés Salazar - Gato – who is the vocalist, composer, guitarist, producer, and director of the band, began writing new songs. The lyrics relate to the feeling of many emigrants who leave their country in search of new opportunities; they speak of wanting, longing, and hope.

One of the main objectives of this first production was to maintain the band’s strong energy in live performances as the essence of the recording project. To do this, the songs in the album used the rhythms that were played live and were given the band’s signature touch in the studio, in what the musicians call ‘rhythm labs’, where they built on the rhythms, mixed and re-arranged them to create a unique, distinctive sound.

After two years in production, 12 original songs comprise the band’s first album. It is an elaborated blend of diverse Latin American rhythms, such as salsa, merengue, seis chorreado, festejo, bomba, cumbia, merecumbé, punta, gaita, and others such as blues and reggae. These joyful, up-beat, and danceable rhythms are combined with sincere; heart felt lyrics, creating a new and exciting musical proposal.

Strings and percussion are the only musical instruments relied on throughout the album. There are three guitars, including a 6-string steal acoustic, played by the lead singer; a 12- string steal acoustic, adjusted with electric effects, and an electric guitar, combined with violins to replace all of the songs’ horn sections. Together, the three guitars bring an innovative sound to traditional Latin music, ranging from rock to Latin Folklore. As for percussion instruments, there are strong ‘descargas’, or what the director calls ‘percussion monologues and dialogues’, where the musicians in the band poured their souls and talent into each song.

Beyond great music, the band’s first album is a tribute to its trajectory and to its contagious energy on stage, apparent throughout the production. This energy, which is accompanied by the message of the songs, and brought to life through complex rhythms, is the culmination of many years of hard work and the basis of the attraction of any Latin- American to the music of Gato + The Palenke Music Co.
 
 
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