The Totó WOMAD story written by festival creator Thomas Brooman

At the start of the eighties, in the early days of Womad, there were very few music agencies in the UK representing international artists from anywhere other than the USA. So in 1983 and 1984 a somewhat random but quite productive means of research and enquiry for the festival was to visit Paris on a shoestring budget and with just a hunch or two of where some artists might be found. One starting point was to visit the record shop where we know a favourite artist’s records were being sold and to ask where to go from there…hoping that ‘back home’ would not be the reply! In this manner, in early 1983, I travelled to Paris with my old friend and partner in crime Alan James, in pursuit of Kanda Bongo Man from Zaire, who we had been told was living in Paris. In just a few days we had tracked Kanda down to a nightclub in Montmartre and an invitation was duly made for him to come over to London that summer for a season of WOMAD concerts we were planning at the ICA. The visit went ahead and Kanda played on two consecutive nights, sharing the stage with Misty in Roots on one of the nights and Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart on the second. Flushed with this early success, I returned to Paris in the spring of 1984, together with Joanna, my wife at the time, and her two singer friends, Wendy and Sarah. They went out busking every day, honing tunes for the band they were forming. My agenda was the still-fledgling Womad Festival...

The playlist: Latin American pop – Totó la Momposina, Los Chapillacs, Ismael Miranda and more

This latest selection brings fresh and lively sounds – whether they’re coming from a revered veteran or new ravers updating classic styles Totó la Momposina … a joyful delight. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd Colombia: Totó la Momposina – Tambolero Tambolero is a revisitation of the work of Totó, the Colombian, Caribbean, Afro-indigenous vocal muse whose career began to flourish almost 50 years ago. Recorded in a RealWorld studio in 1991, it’s a syncopated, joyful delight you can sink into. An unearthed live recording of one of the album’s tracks, El Pescador, shows how vital the 74-year-old singer’s sound still is; beautiful and reliant on drums while preserving the indigenous cultures of the Colombian coast. Original Post Facebook...

Totó la Momposina – Curura Remix Competition

Toto’s music has been sampled in many well known dance and hip hop tracks over the years, including tracks by Michel Cleis and Timbaland. Now, it’s your turn! In advance of the release of Toto’s new album ‘Tambolero’ we are running a remix competition that allows you download the stems to Toto’s classic track ‘Curura’ so you can do your own remix. The winner will win a pair of Bowers & Wilkins headphones. Competition closes 17 July. For full details and T&Cs go to www.realworldrecords.com/totoremix. The rest, is up to you! Good luck Facebook...

El Pescador

Totó La Momposina came to Real World Studios in August 1991 to begin recording what would prove to be her most important album, now re-released on Real World Records as ‘Tambolero’. In this never before seen footage from the original recording session, Totó delivers an outstanding live performance of El Pescador, surrounded by friends and guests. The soundtrack has been restored and remixed and features as a track on the 2015 album ‘Tambolero’. Pre order “Tambolero” from iTunes and download ‘El Pescador’ instantly: iTunes – http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-iTunes Also available via: iTunes – http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-iTunes Amazon – http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-Amazon Google Play – http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-Google Singer, dancer and teacher, Totó La Momposina’s entire life has been dedicated to representing the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, where African, Indigenous Indian and Spanish cultures mingle to create a unique musical tradition. ‘Tambolero’, originally released in 1993 as ‘La Candela Viva’, has been re-created and re-imagined for 2015 as part of Real World Records’ Gold series. Discover more – https://realworldrecords.com/tambolero/ El Pescador (Cumbia) A tribute to the fisherman working the coasts and rivers of Colombia. A sense of respect, affection and appreciation is revealed in the words of the hard, yet humble, task of the fisherman, in touch with nature. El Pescador was composed by José Barros, from El Banco, celebrated creator of many well-loved Colombian songs. Facebook...

Michel Cleis – La Mezcla

It was the beginning of summer 2008, I had just returned home to Lausanne from holiday in Colombia with my girlfriend at the time (half-Swiss, half-Colombian), where we’d been visiting family and discovered wonderful nature spots, amazing food and, of course, music. I did not know a lot about Colombian music and my first contact with this percussive sound was listening to a song called La Tortuga by Joe Arroyo. I loved the rhythmic energy and asked the family for more music with this feel. I was convinced I could try something with the sound and that it might be possible to adapt it for the dance-floor.   I was gardening at home in Lausanne when my friend came up to me with La Candela Viva in her hands. She just said: “You should listen to this singer, I’m sure you’ll love her.” That album is responsible for radical changes in my life. Totó’s voice is extraordinary: Love, roots, energy are the three words that come to mind thinking about her music. There is something really fresh there and so close to nature somehow – really different compared to most of the music I had listened to before. Back in my studio, I listened carefully to the album, looking for percussive ideas and sensing that there might be even more there. I don’t know what kind of magic occurred in those sessions: rhythms, harmonies and notes were coming together really fast – which is a big deal for me – and, in around 14 days, my tune, La Mezcla, was born. At that time I was already working with...

Tambolero

Totó La Momposina y sus Tambores, 2015 – Tambolero You don’t normally get the chance to go back in time and recreate an album. Building on a classic project that began 24 years ago is a challenge and a delight. In 2009, the Swiss producer Michel Cleis released a house tune called La Mezcla, which featured two samples from Toto La Momposina’s album La Candela Viva. The track took off and his label, Cadenza, requested access to the multi-tracks so they could produce extra mixes. It was agreed and John Hollis (producer and now son-in-law of Toto) came to Real World Studios to seek out El Pescador and Curura, which meant locating the original 2 inch tapes from 1991 and 1992. Hollis had been at those original sessions, and had often thought of one day revisiting them, but that summer day in 2009 when he listened to the recordings it was an experience that took him completely by surprise. “I was in the very room we had worked in during the 1992 sessions and when Greg, the engineer, pressed play and brought up the faders the sound was amazing. For me it was a deeply emotional moment; the presence of the musicians in performance was surreal, it felt like they were in the room, that the music had been made both just then and long ago. What’s more, I could now speak Spanish, understand their comments and laugh at their jokes. Apart from the album tracks selected at the time, we had all forgotten what had been recorded and I discovered a treasure trove of material.” It was agreed...

Tambolero – Producing notes ‘Saving the Tapes’

Real World Studios engineer Oli Jacobs describes the process of saving and restoring a classic album recorded 24 years ago: My journey into the world of Colombian artist Totó La Momposina started when our technician, Jamie Neale, and I transferred the 24-track analogue tapes into the digital domain. We normally bake old tapes in a laboratory oven at 60 degrees Celsius for three or four days to help solve a problem known as ‘sticky-shed syndrome’. When tapes are stored for a long period of time, the binding that holds the magnetic particles to the plastic begins to break down. Baking the tapes temporarily removes the moisture, resetting the glue binding and making the tape playable for a few weeks. Failure to carry out this process could have resulted in the tape breaking when played and the recordings could have been lost forever. We transferred the audio using our Studer A820 24-track tape machine in The Big Room at Real World Studios into ProTools using the latest Avid HD converters at 96kHz/24bit. Now that the audio was in the digital domain producer John Hollis sifted through hours of the original recordings and we were able to edit and manipulate it in ways that were previously not possible. For example, on one of the tracks, ‘Adios Fulana’, some of the drum rhythms were a little out of time and this may have been the reason this version of the song was not on the original album – but now it has made it.   John had the amazing idea to bring in Totó’s granddaughters, Oriana and Maria, to add some additional...
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