La Cumbiamba eNeYé 


La Palma CD 1 & 2

La Cumbiamba eNeYé performs concerts and workshops with traditional instruments from the Indigenous cultures, the European and African Diasporas, as well as the mestizo/criolla cultures of Colombia. All of which are blended together to create the traditional musical styles that developed throughout the colonial era and continue to evolve. 

La Cumbiamba eNeYé’s approach to music is investigative.  However, from the styles, genres, rhythms, and melodies explored the group is inspired to create new arrangements and entirely new compositions, which although traditionally influenced, have eclectic characteristics in texture, harmony and rhythm. This aspect of La Cumbiamba eNeYé can be seen as the result of being a New York born and based group, where interactions and continuous contact with musicians from different places around the world generate new possibilities. The group takes coastal music as a departing point and source of work not only because of the musical background of some of the members, but because coastal traditions in Colombia, as in other regions of the Caribbean, are inexhaustible fountains of culture and inspiration. 

Initially, La Cumbiamba eNeYé’s began performing a repertoire of cumbia related rhythms outdoors in different public areas of New York City. Given these circumstances, “eNeYé” adopted its denomination of ‘cumbiamba’ from the cultural vocabulary of the northwestern Caribbean coast in South America.  In Colombia, ‘cumbiamba’ is a familiar word, which carries the meaning of an outdoors celebration with live cumbia music or the bands that perform in such events. La Cumbiamba eNeYé evokes this lively atmosphere with every performance, and has also extended them into different cultural venues throughout the city and beyond 

Since its beginnings, La Cumbiamba eNeYé has been working from a handful of traditional styles that are present in Colombia.  Some of these musical styles are: 

In the Atlantic Coast 

Gaitas y Tambores 

From the Atlantic coast, this style is performed with pre-Colombian woodwind native indigenous instruments along with the maraca. In this powerful musical style developed and cultivated throughout the colonial and post-colonial eras until present, drums from the African Diaspora blend as two peas in a pod with the gaitas and their unique contour of melodies.  A given piece can be instrumental or sung in Spanish.  When it is sung, it is said that this style constitutes a perfect artistic expression of the tri-ethnicity that characterizes the general population in the region. 

Modern Banda ‘Pelayera’ 

Also from the Colombian Caribbean region, this style is performed with the same instruments present in any traditional marching band except that the percussion section contains only one of each.  However, this style has plenty of freedom in terms of the brass or woodwind instruments that can be used for any given performance. The term “pelayera” alludes to San Pelayo, a small town in the Atlantic coast region, home of a famous and popular annual band festival.  ‘Música Pelayera’ denotes the above-mentioned instrumentation along with the body of repertoire, which a band from the region usually plays, or to describe its musical characteristics and nuances. 

Terapia or Champeta 

From the Caribbean coast, ‘la música champeta’ refers to the most recent wave of popular influence to be embraced by the common folk in the Colombian Caribbean. Even though present in the Caribbean throughout the century, this musical style was propelled to unprecedented heights by popular music movements emanating from Africa in the immediate post revolution/independence years in the 1960’s, particularly from the Congo area.   As a result, ‘champeta’ is more easily compared and associated with Congolese ‘zoukous’. However, the term champeta as it is used in Colombia may include or take various characteristics of similar styles such as calypso, socca, samba, bomba, or zoukus from other regions of the Caribbean or even Brazil, which share Congo elements. 

In the Pacific Coast 

Conjunto de marimba 

This musical tradition takes its name from one of the rhythms played by this type of traditional ensemble found in numerous small villages and towns along Colombia’s Pacific coast and in Ecuador. This ensemble features the marimba as the main melodic and harmonic foundation, singing and drums called bombos and cununos.  Other genres within the traditions of these types of ensembles are currulao, bunde, arrullo, aguabajo, and juga. 


This musical style is from the Pacific coast, and its instrumentation is the same as in the ‘banda Pelayera’.  There are, however, great differences between these styles, but they are entirely and strictly musical. The differences are present in nuances, rhythms, melodic contour, and phrasing. 

Contacts:    Martín Vejarano