Four experienced singers were reunited after decades in the Papaya Music Studios in order to reminess anecdotes and songs that they used to play during the golden age of romantic serenades.
Max Goldenberg, José Everardo “Papi” Baltodano, and brothers Santos and Odilon Juarez used to walk the streets of Nicoya and other nearby towns of the Northmost Costa Rican province, Guanacaste with their guitars slung over their shoulders, seeking women for whom to sing their songs beneath balconies. This was a deeply- rooted tradition last century, when all romantic stories began, were formalized and ended with a handful of songs.
In this disc, the voices of these singers, once tempered by nighttime and the loneliness of the roads, are joined by a new generation of trained musicians who started by the side of those well-versed artists in their “vagrancies”, during a time when the romantic plague was so widely spread that the authorities had to create a serenade tax to try and keep public order and holy silence in the night. And so it was that Fidel and Jaime Gamboa, directors of the successful Grupo Malpaís, and Mario Ulloa, a classical guitarist with a brilliant international career, decided to share again the pleasure of singing to slumberous hearts.
This repertoire of music - a mixture of poetry, Ecuadorian pasillos and Mexican boleros- came to the Guanacaste province by way of travelling circuses and the radio. Other songs came from local popular music created by reknowned composer such as Hector Zuñiga, Aristides Baltodano and Medardo Guido. Although Adan Guevara was overshadowed by his political leanings, his nephews Max Goldenberg and the Gamboa brothers pay homage to his rich and interesting exploits.
MEN WOULD LOVE TO
To participate in this collection of songs, the indispensable requirement was to have lived these experiences and gained some reknown, such as having been chased by dogs or the police, fallen into gutters, jumped over walls and ripped one's pants, fled from gunshots fired into the air by overprotective parents or annoyed neighbors, having their guitars confiscated at the police station, or living finally with the women they won over on some musical, moonlit night.
This is a masculine recording, because the very nature of serenading makes it so: men sing to women with the hope of awakening their feelings; yet many men have confessed that they would love to be surprised by their girlfriends or wives who'd hire musicians with whom they would also sing from underneath the balconies.
Perhaps it is noteworthy for them to learn that two of the songs in this recording were written by women: Esperanza Cabrera (Mexico), author of “Serenata” and Benigna Dávalos (Ecuador), author of “Ángel de Luz”. Both wrote sizzling words of love intended for women as well, which could be explained by their roles as lyricists for male singers or choral groups.
These song arrangements were directed by Fidel Gamboa, who sought to reflect the variety of rythms and instrumentation that are characteristic of the serenades from Guanacaste. He alternates guitars and the requinto (a four stringed intrument) with the mandolin, the accordeon, marimbas, piano, and even a town cimarrona marching band that functioned as a kind of music school for many of the serenading troubadours. Other members of the Grupo Malpaís participated in this recording: percussionist Carlos “Tapado” Vargas, and multi- instrumentalist Iván Rodríguez, pianist and arranger Walter Flores. However, the crowning touch belongs to the requinto of Mario Ulloa, a Costa Rican guitarist with a brilliant carrer as a classical soloist who currently lives in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.