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Carlitos Nino  in Worldwide
Latinos in London magazine  on 2018-11-29

Sexteto Tabala ! Un Helado de Portugal

The Sexteto Tabalá originates from Palenque de San Basilio, the famous village which was founded by fugitive slaves some forty-three miles away from Cartagena and one of the main centres of Black resistance to slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries. This sexteto plays a “raw” and warm type of son in which deep, ancient-sounding percussion instruments accompany the tenor voices of Palenque farm workers. These men are heirs to a long identity-building process, from the time of runaway slaves and rebellion against the Spaniards; this is the source from which their interpretation of the “son palenquero” draws its authenticity.

Palenque de San Basilio remained totally isolated until the beginning of the 20th century, when North American investors acquired concessions to grow sugarcane in the region of Sincerin, a short distance from the village. Black people from Palenque were then hired in the plantations of “Central Colombia”, a sugar-producing complex under Cuban technical supervision. In their free time, the Cuban engineers would play the music which was most fashionable in Cuba at the time: the “son montuno”, then played by sexteto groups at the height of their glory in Santiago de Cuba. The sugarcane workers soon fell in love with this music and learned to play it.


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