This CD is the fruit of a long research of the parallel paths of calypso and jazz, which finished with the series of concerts entitled “Calypso - Jazz Wednesdays”, a periodical gathering directed by master pianist Manuel Obregón and calypso expert Manuel Monestel. They departed from a deep investigation and their enormous talents in jazz and calypso to experiment alongside some of the major living legends of Costa Rican calypso. The research process, the concerts and their recording were possible thanks to the colaboration of the Costa Rican Ministry of Culture and the Spanish Cultural Center.
In this production recorded live, we revive the most famous songs from the 1950s and 60s, back when neighborhood calypso bands where the main attraction in Limón Carnival days. Calypso Limón Legends contains the tradition of the glorious age of calypso carnival bands, but it its strengthened by a New Orleans style jazz piano, which gives this recording a fresh new sound. Sound engineer Draxe Ramírez, is one more star of this production, thanks to his months of precision work to transform the concert recordings from rough diamonds into bright musical gems.
The five singers we hear in this production are the authors of songs that became true landmarks of Afro Costa Rican culture.
Cyril Sylvan is one of the few singers who have kept the style perfected by Panamanian calypso legend Lord Cobra, one of the household names of Central American calypso. Cyrilo was a fisherman and butcher in Port Limon's main market for 40 years and lead singer for the carnival bands “Lobsterband” and “Skelintans” from the notorious Cieneguita neighborhood, where his brothers, nephews, his daughter and even his mother also performed.
After belonging to several calypso bands, Reynaldo Kenton “Shanty” has always been devoted to music. He was part of the canrival bands Lobster Band and Skelintan by Sylvan, and he continued to interpret calypsos of the great composers from Port Limon in groups like New Revelation, a band from the neighborhood of Cieneguita, founded by reknowned Julio Medina. This is one of the few bands from Costa Rica to be included in Radio France International's compilations.
Originally from Bluefields in the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast, Emilio Álvarez “Junny” has been a sailor and a boat mechanic, but he has also traveled Central America and the islands of the Caribbean with the group Bárbaros del Ritmo, predecessor of the famous Dimensión Costeña. His wide experience with contemporary calypso and his ability with the electric bass made Junny vital for Calypso Limon Legends.
Herberth Glinton “Lenkí” is also impressive on stage since you wouldn't expect a man so apparently fragile to be capable of producing the heartrendering voice he produces to sing his songs “Fire” y “Nowhere like Limón”. Besides, passionate fan of blues and country music, Lenkí also interprets a version of the classic country song “Please help me I'm falling”.
All the way to New York went Roberto “Congoman” Watts to record his “Carnaval en Puerto Limón”. Tailor and barber from Port Limon and raised in Panama, “Congoman” cofesses he has always been inspired by Clarence Martin “a grand musician” whose music taught him to appreciate jazz. Here, Congoman plays a song by Lord Kitty, who he met in Panama.
The Musical Directors
Manuel Obregón has turned his career into a sampler of the genres that exist on Central America. Obregón has researched deeply the historic relationship between Central American calypso, blues and New Orleans Jazz music. In New Orleans, he learned the musical forms and style of Jerry Roll Morthon, and Louis Russell, pioneers of swing and calypso jazz. He has also established a strong exchange between Central America and Louisiana, participating in the Internacional New Orleans Jazz Festival with Orquesta de la Papaya in the Festival Internacional de Lafayette, in the New Orleans Piano Night and he won the Best Concert Award in 2000 for his performance in Snug Harbor with the Calypso Jazz Trio with Jhonny Vidacovich. In October 2000, he is declared International Honorary Citizen of the city of New Orleans, and in August, 2005 he was selected by the University of Tulane to form the Institute of Culture of the Americas and the Latin Festival in New Orleans, but the project was interrupted by the emergency due to hurricane Katrina. In November 2005 he founded the First Calypso Festival in Bocas del Toro with Manuel Monestel and Romulo Castro.
Fine balance between academic knowledge and musical talent best describe Manuel Monestel. His deep interes for researching original Limon style calypso have permitted entire generations of Costa Ricans to get acquainted with this music and appreciate it. His vast musical production with several bands, especially as musical director of the band Cantoamerica during its more than 25 years of existance, competes with his numerous publications in his 30 odd years of curiosity. Due to this background, Manuel Monestel has perfected beautiful versions of songs by Walter Ferguson, Lenkí, Buda, and many other emblematic composers from the Limon province, apart from having built an ample repertoire of his own creations. His recently published “Ritmo, Canción e Identidad: el Calypso Limonense”, the most profound and most well founded book ever written about this music. Besides, he has participated in lots of international music festivals around the world, such as April in Managua, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the Olof Palme Festival, the Benefit Concerts for the Christic Institute in California, the Paul Masson Summer Series, the Cabrillo Music Festival, Concierto Mundial Por La Vida, Cali, Colombia, Festival de Cultura del Caribe 96 in Can Cun, México, Festival Musical Latinoanericano and Festival Musical Latinoanericano in Puerto Rico, the Central American Coffee Carnival in Taiwan, Festival Mundial de la Juventud in Panamá, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and in several editions of the Festival Internacional de las Artes in his native Costa Rica.