Cuchata
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Cuchata

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Friday, November 12: High above Seattle in a little, dark LO_FI loft, a trio of musicians fills the space with rich sounds of Latin-American music. The band is Cuchata. Illuminated by red-orange light and appearing nearly as ghoulish as their skeleton-themed CD graphics, they stand before mirrors reflecting the night city skyline. Electric stars are projected onto the wall and ceiling above them. Listeners scattered on couches and sitting cross-legged on the floor are swayed by air heavy with passion – laced by a rocking flow of Latin beats and seductive Spanish snarls.
With songs ranging in subject from love to immigration, Cuchata provides an appealing variety within its genre, while also incorporating the freshness and intensity of youth. The music is both emotionally moving and technically impressive.
The group was formed after singer and guitarist Marcelo Quiñónez traveled to Nicaragua, revisiting and reconnecting with his Chorotega heritage. He is joined by drummer Bryan Cook, possessing a degree in Music Percussion from University of Maine and the experience of being with the first American percussion group to perform in Cuba. Bassist, Cody Rahn, completes the Cuchata trio and also contributes to several other local projects. With Quiñónez singing passionately in Spanish - Cook and Rahn add layers to lyrics, weaving in and out with congas and pauses to accommodate intricate guitar licks - creating a complicated, yet fascinating sound.
Back inside LO_FI, a song crescendos with heavy bass drum and congas. It rises with a voice just short of angry, then cools to wooden crackling, gentle guitar strumming, and softly-snarling vocals. The pace drags and flows, pulling listeners with each beat, never breaking a sauntering swagger. The experience is mesmerizing - the sound is warm, full, and raw. Quiñónez's voice is precise, sultry, and pained - though with the control of experience and maturity.
A song "to push the speakers," Basta, is described as being for "low riders" and inspired by Quiñónez's cousin in Los Angeles. It opens with a sexy baseline, greeted with whistles from the crowd and couples on their feet, immediately dancing. A lofty chorus is followed by wooden rain from goat toes (an instrument with - yes, actual goat toes) before falling back to thumping bass and rasping whispered vocals. "Basta" means "enough".
Just when the thick atmosphere approaches weighty, Cuchata brightens things up and clears the air with appropriately named Dia Del Sol (Sunny Day). The piece is lighter, catchy, and quick. It brings claps and grins from the audience with a friendly beat reminiscent of sun, vacation-island waves, and an ocean-breeze heat. Darkness only temporarily dissipates with Cuchata however, it is around the corner in the next song.
Overall, this threesome is innovative, technically skillful, and entertaining. The sound is clean and impressively rich coming from a trio – albeit, a trio of true musicians educated and dedicated to the genre. The experience is either tranquilizing or invigorating - anything but mundane. Whether you're a world-music fan, or know very little, Cuchata is a guaranteed good-time bordering on guilty pleasure. Listen to relax, come to dance, or sit to be seduced. I prefer the latter.
Rachelle Robinnet
Musica Magazine
www.musicaentertainment.com - Musica Magazine Seattle, WA


"The marvelous thing about Cuchata’s music is that they weave all the threads of their influences into a handsome musical fabric that is at once fully-integrated and personal. It certainly helps that Quinonez is a terrific songwriter. You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to recognize the natural flow of language and fresh melody that flows through his songs. His idiomatic guitar and expressive baritone receive uncommonly sensitive support from Rahn and Cook. We can’t recommend this band highly enough to anyone with even a passing interest in Latin musical culture. The same can be said about their self-titled CD on Eleggua Records, available at local CD/record stores." - The Triple Door Seattle, WA


Discography

- Self-titled full-length Release, 2002
- Just Released second full-length release
"Sangre Mixto".

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Falling somewhere between the traditional and the experimental, Cuchata's music is the very definition of Latin Alternative music, and arguably the only band of it's kind in Seattle. Their entirely original compositions join afro-latin traditions with elements of rock, hip-hop, drum and bass, avant-garde jazz, dub reggae, afrobeat, and more. Certainly not a latin-jazz band, by no means salsa, rock en espanol, or cumbia, Cuchata borrows from all these genres and blends them with a rare fluency.
Cuchata was born out of guitarist/singer/songwriter Marcelo E. Quinonez’s 1999 pilgrimage to his ancestral Nicaragua. There he discovered and fell under the spell of the country’s rich musical heritage. Upon returning to the USA, he combined his new-found knowledge with his love of other Afro-Latin traditions to fashion a musical expression of his own. Joined by percussionist/keyboardist Bryan Cook, Quinonez formed Cuchata in 2000. The band, which now includes bassist Cody Rahn and a horn section, released their debut album on Eleggua Records in 2003. It was a fascinating amalgam of influences from Nicaragua, Peru, Cuba and Colombia, with Caribbean-side Central American vocal flavors and Pampas rhythms from Paraguay and Argentina.
Since that time, Cuchata has grown musically, as has their intense desire to constantly update and hybridize their sound. Cuchata consistently strives to craft music that defies genres on one hand, yet fits neatly into many on the other. Their forthcoming release shows the diversity of their style, and their ability to integrate ancient and modern influences into a cohesive blend of original compositions. Cuchata performs regularly in and around Seattle where they have a very loyal following and have played to capacity crowds. They have shared the stage with such bands as Quetzal at The Conga Room (L.A.), legendary Cuban percussionist Francisco Aguabella at The Temple Bar (L.A.), and recently opened a sold-out show for world music sensation Lhasa De Sela at The Triple Door in Seattle. Cuchata has also licensed their music for television (“Road Trip Nation”, PBS) and is currently working on getting their music licensed to an upcoming feature film.

"The marvelous thing about Cuchata’s music is that they weave all the threads of their influences into a handsome musical fabric that is at once fully-integrated and personal. It certainly helps that Quinonez is a terrific songwriter. You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to recognize the natural flow of language and fresh melody that flows through his songs. His idiomatic guitar and expressive baritone receive uncommonly sensitive support from Rahn and Cook. We can’t recommend this band highly enough to anyone with even a passing interest in Latin musical culture. The same can be said about their self-titled CD on Eleggua Records, available at local CD/record stores."
-From www.thetripledoor.com (Seattle, WA)