Ale Kuma

Ale Kuma

 Bogotá, Bogota D.C., COL
BandWorld

Biography

Alé Kumá is a contemporary afro-Colombian formation, founded in 2002 by contrabassist Leonardo Gómez. They started an invaluable research on their roots that evolved into a meeting between urban and traditional musicians and became the new approach to afro-Colombian music. Though the members come from different cultures, they fused their knowledge and preserved their heritage, playing traditional instruments such as gaita, flauta de millo, marimba and tambor alegre, as well as sax, guitar and upright bass. They highlighted some of the best cantaoras (female singers) and the prominent composer and singer Pablo Flórez.
Alé Kumá is a traditional Colombian dance of indigenous origin. The name of this dance describes the unbreakable family ties between members of the indigenous tribe ‘Guahibo’ in the East Plains of Colombia. Since its creation, Alé Kumá have worked with some very interesting Colombian musicians: Paulino Salgado ‘Batato III’, a great percussionist, and Etelvina Maldonado, a legendary singer – passed away in 2004 and 2010 – contributed a great deal to their project.
Alé Kumá’s work of explores the different styles of African influence that are largely played along the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts of Colombia: cumbia, fandango, bullerengue, currulao, aguabajo, tambora, paseo, porro... The producer meets veteran cantaoras who have been passing on songs from woman to woman, from generation to generation, as well as the masterful percussionists who play their music. Working with these veterans has provided Leonardo with the opportunity to learn about their rhythms and how they are interpreted differently in each specific region.
Alé Kumá picks up all these different interpretations, traditional instruments and some of the most representative cantaoras from both Colombian coasts and joins in harmoniously the guitar, sax and upright bass. This results in traditional compositions arranged with a contemporary touch. The unconventional instrument choice, the clear and pure choral styles and the deep and feisty cantaoras’ voices create a magic soul sound that is the key to Alé Kumá’s success.
During the colonial era, the Spanish imported European instruments that bit by bit were established into the traditional configurations. Some of them, such as the guitar and the harp, were altered. Others, such as the accordion and the piano, remained intact but adopted the rhythms and melodies of the music they were incorporated in. Alé Kumá have chosen to use some of these instruments. Their musicians and cantaoras agreed to play and sing in a more than strictly traditional way. In so doing, Alé Kumá’s traditional and urban musicians have reinvented afro-Colombian music. 
Alé Kumá’s music therefore cannot be marketed under the umbrella of traditional afro-Colombian music, despite having preserved the typical elements of the popular tradition. Alé Kumá are very much their own style and sound!
They have up until now recorded two fantastic productions. Their debut album, Cantaoras, in 2002 was declared the best traditional album by the weekly magazine ‘Semana’. It was a showpiece of afro-Colombian music and sold more copies than any other traditional album. It received the golden plate, becoming the first traditional album to ever receive this award in Colombia. November 2005 saw the release of Pablo Flórez – el poeta del Valle del Sinú, another unique batch of catchy, witty songs: porros, cumbias and paseos sinuanos. It pays the tribute to Pablo Flórez, living legend and composer of the famous song ‘La Aventurera’, born in the Valley of Sinú. 
They are currently preparing their next production: a live album with DVD.

Discography

- Cantaoras 2002
- Pablo Flórez el poeta del valle del Sinú (2005)

Set List

Voice, Chorus, Sax, Electric Guitar, Traditional Percussion (alegre, tambora, maraca), Upright Bass, Traditional Flute (gaita)