Ritmos Negros – Afro-Peruvian music in Bulgaria


"We have been creating music based on Peruvian traditions and its African roots. It is full of nuances and sensual rhythm," Piero Epifanía from Peru says. He plays the cajon and is vocalist of Ritmos Negros, as well as author of the compositions. Simeon Leonidov – guitar, was the first to join him, followed by Boris Taslev – bass and saxophonist Arnau Garrofé Farràs from Barcelona. The quartet was formed less than two years ago but has already released an album bearing its name. Club concerts have been gathering more and more fans, and hence the growing popularity of this not so popular style in this country. The main reason for Piero Epifanía and Arnau Garrofé to come to Bulgaria is love - not only in personal aspect, but also towards music that is different from their own.

“I have been living in Bulgaria for five years," Piero Epifanía says. “I traveled all the way between Latin America and the Balkans. The idea of ​​Ritmos Negros is to make original music based on Afro-Peruvian culture. Before I came here, I played other styles, not my national music. It was here where I realized I needed to write music that takes me close to my roots. My idea of ​​such a group was born four years ago. Having met Simeon Leonidov, we started playing together. Then we waited for a few months for Boris to join us. When Arnau came, the sound I wanted to achieve became a reality. Besides saxophone, he plays the flute in the band. There is a very good relationship between us.”

“It was something new for me," Arnau says. "I had not played such a style before and I learned new things in Ritmos Negros. It was very difficult at first because I had to find my place in this music. It's not a jazz, and I feel I am the best in jazz. But now I am more confident and I keep on developing in the sphere of Peruvian folklore.”

“The ‘jazz label’ is totally missing here,” Boris says. "If anyone thought we have been mixing Latin rhythm with jazz, they are wrong. Our aim is to get the most out of the language of Afro-Peruvian music. The author of our music is Piero, but we all make the arrangements together. Each of us has been using their personal style and way of interpretation, but based on Peruvian rhythms and melody.”

The process of developing and exploring this far-away culture continues. We have learned the foundations from Piero.

Boyan Boyadzhiev, Ritmos Negros's PR adds that formation of the band was something unique. There is no similar band in Bulgaria or in the Balkans. It is important that such musicians as Piero and Arnau are here and have transferred their art, culture and music, looking for new horizons with Bulgarian colleagues.

Piero Epifanía has a separate project in which he plays with other musicians, touching on Bulgarian folklore. He hopes to make a project mixing Bulgarian folklore and the style of Ritmos Negros.

2019 is a dynamic year for Ritmos Negros. They are expected to participate in festivals both in Bulgaria and abroad. They already have a repertoire for a new album, too. Great dancer Maria Cossa also has an important role in the performances of the band.

English: Alexander Markov

Photo: private library

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