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Born in 1943 in the town of Magangué, Bolívar, José Francisco “Chico” Cervantes Moreno is a vocalist, composer and percussionist, especially well known for his excellent skills on the cowbell, a talent often employed to stunning effect while with Los Corraleros de Majagual. He is also responsible for Los Corraleros’ signature exhortation heard on many recordings and used for a title of an LP, “¡Nos fuimos!” (“We’re outta here!”). While he was first associated with the more folkloric and “typical” sound through his work with Los Corraleros and an early solo LP for Fuentes done in the same style called “Mueve la cintura” (credited to Chico Cervantes y su Conjunto, featuring his friend Alfredo Gutiérrez early in his career), and even recorded LPs under the name Chico Cervantes y sus Vallenatos, he nevertheless got bitten by the salsa bug in the late 60s when touring with Los Corraleros in Venezuela and New York and decided to try something new. Consequently, he formed his own salsa outfit called La Banda Internacional to pursue his dream of blending Colombian and Cuban/Puerto Rican sounds, signing a multiple album deal with Sonolux and having several vocalists join him at the mic, including the Venezuelan Joe Rodríguez. In 1973, as Chico Cervantes y su Conjunto Internacional on Caliente (a Sonolux subsidiary), he experimented by combining African-style electric guitar and cumbia percussion with New York style brass, utilizing accordion with electronic effects so it sounded like an organ in some instances. The overall result was quite interesting and original, basically using vallenato instrumentation to play a syncopated cumbia/salsa, but with a horn section, something that was never done in “pure” vallenato. Cervantes’ early 70s sound calls to mind the Afro-palenque ‘champeta’ sound becoming popular on the picó sound systems in Barranquilla that would influence Fuentes to create Wganda Kenya. In 1975 Chico was back with Fuentes, teaming up with Alfredo Gutiérrez again for his folkloric conjunto style, and released the LP “El pega pega”. The following year, after a change in line-up (no more guitar and squeeze box) and staying with Fuentes, the ambitious band leader re-baptized his salsa organization as Chico Cervantes y su Nueva Banda, turning in a new more pop-oriented direction along the lines of Nelson y sus Estrellas, producing the eponymous album from which our selection is taken, followed by “Vuelve la banda” in 1977 and “Con todo el sabor” in ‘79. Cervantes is a proud recipient of a Congo de Oro award for his solo work, as well as one with Los Corraleros. His version of ‘La cumbia de la paz’ was recently sampled on the hit club track ‘Cumbia’ by MIS.

Chico Cervantes y su Nueva Banda Biography Gallery
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