Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Guanacaste Atardecer: Listenng to the Sunset

Listening to the Sunset

   Watching a sunset in Guanacaste can conjure up images of classic Monet paintings that display a melding of colors as the sun dips into the sea. It’s that unique time of day between dark and light that has always been synonymous with romantic interlude. Now, Costa Rica’s premier label, Papaya Music, is offering a soundtrack for that distinct space of time. The CD, titled Guanacaste al Atardecer, is a nice mix of musicians of different ages and styles, some already on the Papaya label and some not. I really like the fact that Nicaragua is included in the CD package as a part of the Guanacaste peninsula, or “Gran Nicoya”, as this entire area has shared a cultural bond for centuries. I also appreciate the way Papaya recognizes artists who are not a part of their recording family as a part of this presentation.
   The eleven song LP opens with a mood-setter that states the tone for the whole disc. “Concierto Para un Coro de Lapas” combines the natural, ambient sounds of crickets, macaws and other birds, with the unmistakable piano of Manuel Obregon, one of the Papaya co-founders, accompanied by the trio Mandragora on guitars and flute. The song is taken from a recording session on the Osa Peninsula in 1990.

The unmistakable Clara Grun
   The second song, “Pochote” was written and sung by twenty-five year old Nicaraguan Clara Grun, who claims she was “born singing”. The song first appeared on her premier CD on the tiny Moka recording label. Other Nicaraguan artists who appear on this compilation are Perrozompopo, a popular Managua band, with “Entre Remolinos”, one of their soft songs from their first disc, on Papaya. Elsa Basil, also from Managua, offers a torch song which also has Clara Grun playing piano. Popular Costa Rican vocalist Martha Fonseca covers the bolero “Como Fue” with Malpais in a live recording previously unreleased, and Malpais offers their live version from the Jazz Café of a Ray Tico song, “Romance en Habana”, which does not appear on their recent live disc. It’s a nice touch, as the LP itself is dedicated to the memory of Ray Tico. The list also includes a tango by Mario Ulloa, who recently released a CD on Papaya and the seldom seen Cuarteto Esporadico (including the Gamboa brothers and Obregon, from Malpais) performing a classic bolero, recorded live at Café do Playa last Valentine’s Day. The final track, “Sobre el Agua” is by the San Jose musician Fred Miranda, from the rock band Gandhi. It is from his from his solo project, Baula Project, which centers around the plight of turtles and their nesting spots in Guanacaste. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the project.

Martha Fonseca
   Again, Papaya spares no expense on packaging, offering a jacket that folds out twice to display a memorable photo of a Guanacaste sunset. The CD also comes with a very booklet in Spanish and English, as has become the norm for the label. And, once again, Papaya has taken a chance with a new concept that works for them, offering a rich mix of musical styles designed around a tranquil afternoon that is pleasurable enough to keep your attention, rather than slipping into the background or putting the listener to sleep. “Guanacaste al Atardecer” and all Papaya CDs are available at Jaime Peligro in Tamarindo and Seventh Street Books in San Jose. Both shops will gladly sample the music for their customers.  All comments concerning this article are welcome.