Los Gauchos de Roldán
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Los Gauchos de Roldán


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"Caras y Caretas (Montevideo, Uruguay) (August 2011)"

"Los Gauchos de Roldán...Rescuing northern Uruguayan folklore..."
- Caras y Caretas (Montevideo, Uruguay)

"Express Milwaukee (Jan. 2012)"

Los Gauchos de Roldan Button Accordion and Bandoneon Music from Northern Uruguay (Smithsonian Folkways)

Uruguay, the small nation wedged between the giants of Brazil and Argentina, was shaped like many places in the New World by an influx of immigration. Los Gauchos de Roldan is determined to preserve the music that filtered into Uruguay's rural backlands—a music that resonates with sounds from faraway. Astor Piazzola might have appreciated the almost tango of “Como mi suegra.” With its weary melody over a ragged rhythm, “Chotis de Don Lorenzo” recalls a European street corner café in a poor neighborhood from a century ago. Powering Los Gauchos' collection of traditional songs is the two-row button accordion and the mighty bandoneon, a favorite instrument in the tango halls of Buenos Aires. - Express Milwaukee

"Accordion Uprising (CFRO: Co-Op Radio 102.7 FM) (Vancouver, BC, Canada)"

‘Los Gauchos de Roldán’ Share Down-Home Dance Music Tradition From Rural Uruguay

Smithsonian Folkways records has a new album by Los Gauchos de Roldán, from Uruguay. Lovely view of musicians preserving and speaking for a folk tradition from the rural areas of a country that mixes the culture of Argentina and Brasil (and is, of course, its own thing).

Diatonic accordion and bandoneón together, interesting. Seems like the bandoneón is playing mostly chordal accompaniment, the diatonic accordion is melody on top, with guitar rhythm. Rich lively stuff. Very different from the arch-tangos Piazzolla fans will associate with the bandoneón.

The leader, Walter Roldán has a website, “Ocho Bajos,” which is an awesome name coming from an eight-bass accordion-player. Very cool.

I’m not sure how this relates with the Chamamé music of Chango Spasiuk and Luiz Carlos Borges from Argentina, or the gaucho accordion of Renato Borghetti from Brasil. I’d like to learn more about how all those traditions fit together.

We have an earlier Gauchos de Roldán record which we’ve played on the show. I hope we get to hear more.

From their fine press-release: (honest journalism, I won’t claim I wrote it myself, eh?)

Button accordionist and bandleader Walter Roldán hails from Tacuarembó, Uruguay, a melting pot of Spanish creoles, indigenous descendants, Afro-Uruguayans, Brazilians, and European immigrants. It’s also a center of rural northern Uruguayan traditional music, notable for the two-row button accordion and the bandoneón, a complex accordion-like instrument with a lush sound that is also a symbol of the urban Tango tradition.

In the mid-19th century, the popular European dance forms of the time—polka, mazurka, waltz and schottische—arrived in Uruguay and joined the Afro-Creole rhythms of habanera, maxixa and milonga to eventually take root in the countryside. The rhythms were then “reshaped in the style and way of thinking of the paisanos (rural people),” says Roldán. The rhythmically infectious result can be favorably compared to south Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole traditions played with a Tango sensibility.

“We were just a few that kept up the struggle for people not to forget that the two-row button accordion is part of our roots. The majority of our grandparents and their relatives met at dances where the two-row button accordion was played. Then they fell in love, and got married. That’s the way it was, and we keep up the fight,” states Roldán.

On the new album, Roldán pumps out time-honored polcas and chotis, Brazilian-tinged maxixas, and more on his button accordion. With songs inherited from Roldán’s father and grandmother, ‘Los Gauchos de Roldán’ also features bandoneón master Chichí Vidiella, guitarist Bernardo Sanguinetti and Ricardo Cunha on guitarrón (a classical guitar with a large, deep body and lower tuning). Renowned and formerly-exiled Uruguayan guitarist and singer Numa Moraes makes a guest appearance on multiple tracks.

Moraes says, “We were known for the soccer World Cup, and for the first time people are starting to talk about Uruguay in another way, and from a musical point of view I think that it will be very important…. It is a very small country, but it has a great variety of rhythms and colors in its music.”

In addition to countless performances in Uruguay, Los Gauchos de Roldán have been featured at the Chicago World Music Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, TX.

A co-production with the Smithsonian Latino Center, showcases the diverse musical heritage of the 50 million Latinos living in the USA.
- Accordion Uprising (CFRO: Co-Op Radio 102.7 FM) (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

"Pernambuco Nação Cultural (Recife,Brazil) (June 2011)"

"Sanfona de lá Sanfona de cá" Showcases the Diverse Potential of the Accordion

“Walter performed with Uruguayan singer Numa Moraes. Also performing with them were the musicians from Pernambuco Junior Areia (bass), Gilu (percussion) e Juliano Holanda (guitar). Within the repertoire were polcas, mazurca, chotis, vals, maxixa and habanera, a faithful expression of northern Uruguayan traditional dance music… The show climaxed with three artists (Arlindo dos Oito Baixos, Walter Roldán, and Renato Borghetti) together onstage playing a Milonga by Renato Borghetti, each one in their own style, mixing Uruguayan, gaúcho, and Northeastern Brazilian traditions.”
- Pernambuco Nação Cultural (Brasil)

"The Polka Page (January 2006)"


"Hot polkas from Uruguay, played on button accordion by Walter
Roldán...I imagine that the Buena Vista Social Club would sound like this if they were playing polkas."
- The Polka Page

"Noticiero De Norte a Sur (Toronto, Canada) (October 2005)"

Los Gauchos de Roldán Capitvated the Audience

“The Uruguayan folklorists put on a tremendous show…The crowd in attendance, which overflowed the venue, was able to enjoy a unique night, full of warmth, happiness, and emotions.”
- Noticiero De Norte a Sur (Toronto, Canada)

"Diario El País (Montevideo, Uruguay) (August 2011)"

A Variety of Music from Northern Uruguay - Diario El País (Montevideo, Uruguay)

"Jornal do Commercio (Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil) (June 2011)"

Accordion in Three Languages: Musicians from Brazil, Uruguay, and USA in accordion event

“Walter Roldán...deeply understands Uruguayan traditional music as well as other music from the pampas... Roldán is on today’s programming with the gaúcho Renato Borghetti with whom he has affinity given that both play music from the pampas...”
- Jornal do Commercio (Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil)

"-fRoots Magazine (April 2012)"


Button Accordion And Bandoneón Music From Northern Uruguay
Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40561

Two-row button accordeonist Walter Roldán formed Los Gauchos de Roldán in 1986 in order to preserve the folk traditions of rural northern Uruguay that he inherited from his father and grandmother. The quartet performs the region´s accordeon, bandoneón, guitar and vocal music, which reflects the influence of indigenous and African peoples, Spanish criollos (creoles), and other European and Brazilian immigrants. The genre drew from musical theatre and European dance rhythms popular in urban areas (chotis, habanera, mazurka, polka, vals) as well as African-rooted maxixa (from Rio de Janeiro) and milonga (from Montevideo and Buenos Aires). Over time these disparate elements assumed local forma at far-flung community dances, fiestas and weddings in a grassland zone whose economy was based on cattle ranching and farming. One also detects a certain musical kinship with the accordeon-and-strings chamamé genre of neighbouring northern Argentina.
The handsomely illustrated 40-page booklet, with English and Spanish notes by ethnomusicologist José Curbelo, situates the music in its cultural and historical context, with annotations for its 19 tracks. The Smithsonian Folkways website offers further audio and video documentation. Roldán, who began playing at age eight under his father´s tutelage, formed a popular guitar-accordeon duo in the 1960s, and performed on regional radio and at dances and parties for many years. The Gauchos´ 2005 Canadian and US tour-with appearances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington DC), Chicago World Music Festival, International Accordeon Festival (San Antonio), and Carrefour Mondial de l'Accordéon (Montmagny, Québec)-set the stage for this recording. Issued in connection with Uruguay´s independence bicentennial, the musicians see its dissemination as critical to their efforts to document the music and its masters in their prime.

www.folkways.si.edu - fRoots Magazine


Puntas de Arerunguá (Ocho Bajos Music 2005)

Los Gauchos de Roldán: Button Accordion and Bandoneón Music from Northern Uruguay (Smithsonian Folkways 2012)



For over 25 years Los Gauchos de Roldán have epitomized the rural dance music of northern Uruguay, bordering Argentina and Brazil. The group comes from Tacuarembó, a hotbed of Uruguayan traditional music, and a ranching region known for its cultural mélange of Spanish creoles, Brazilians, indigenous descendants, Afro-Uruguayans, and European immigrants.

Button accordion master Walter Roldán, descends from a rich family lineage of rural accordionists and leads the quartet composed of button accordion, guitar, deep-voiced bandoneón, and percussive guitarrón. The result, accentuated by a dynamic pair of traditional dancers, is a highly-danceable, yet melancholic buffet of down-home rhythms from tango's hinterland, rhythms such as: of polca, milonga, maxixa, vals, habanera, and chotis.

Los Gauchos de Roldán recently recorded with the renowned label Smithsonian Folkways, and the album was nominated for “Best Folklore Album 2012” by Uruguay’s prestigious Graffiti awards. The group has been featured at important international venues such as:

-John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C., USA)
-Carrefour mondial de l'accordéon (Montmagny, Québec, Canada)
-International Accordion Festival (San Antonio, TX, USA)
-Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha (Tacuarembó, Uruguay).