The band members decided to call themselves Amarillo Cian y Magenta to represent the three primary colors: yellow, blue and red. They considered this an appropriate metaphor to describe their style of music, which they see as an “overview of musical colors” and because they see Costa Rican music in general as a mix derived from many cultures. The word “neo-jazz” has cropped up as a catchphrase recently to embrace an entire wave of Twenty-First Century fusion music. The band itself acknowledges influences as far reaching as Arabic and African beats, electronica, classical, urban mix and, yes, even jazz.
Amarillo, Cian y Magenta (ACM) made their public debut on 21 June, 2003 at Parque Morazan in San Jose. Since then, they have appeared at the Costa Rica Museum of Modern Art, Papaya Fest, the National Arts Festival, the University of Costa Rica, and the Jazz Café, in San Jose. Having Carlos “Tapao” Vargas as one of its percussionists probably helps the band get gigs. Carlos also plays for the popular band Malpais and for three-time Grammy winners Editus. But it must also say something about the rest of the band if Vargas chooses to spend his “spare time” with them. The other members of the band are Nelson Ramirez on sax and flute, Sean Dibango on tenor sax and clarinet, Glen Ramirez on keyboards and Andres Lamb on bass guitar.
ACM recently released their first CD, “Nomadas” on the Papaya label. Their only other CD appearance was on the live Cantoamerica CD, celebrating that band’s twenty-fifth anniversary. If one of Papaya’s goals is to reach back in time to preserve traditional Costa Rican music, then this CD his helping Papaya fulfill their goal at the other end of the spectrum, which is to stretch forward, to expose groundbreaking talent. Nomadas, an entirely instrumental production, has a symphonic element to it, as it is presented in seventeen movements, or passages, creating a musical landscape along the way.
The CD opens with an overture, introducing this movement as an “episode in dreams”. The listener then travels through time (“Zero Hour” and “After Midnight”) and places (“Train”, “The Road” and “The Other Road”). The music segues are very smooth transitions. African and Arabic beats are easily discernable, and the blending of styles and instrumentation did make it seem other-worldly to me. The musical production and mixing by ACM and Walter Flores are immaculate. It seems very clear that the band knew what they wanted and did a very good job in the studio attaining it.
Even the artwork and graphic design, by Arovar and lettering by Grafos work into the overall concept. The collage and airspray artwork is Dali-esque, suggestive of the surreal music on the disc. Papaya took a calculated risk promoting Amarillo Cian y Magenta with the production of this CD. I firmly believe that in a few years’ time, this album will be referred to as a watermark in modern Costa Rican music. And yes, you can quote me on that.
In Guanacaste, “Nomadas” by Amarillo, Cian y Magenta is available exclusively at Jaime Peligro in Playa Tamarindo.All comments concerning tis article are gladly welcomed.