Manongo Mujica (drums, percussion), Jean Pierre Magnet (tenor saxophone), Julio “Chocolate” Algendones (percussion) and Enrique Luna (electric bass) founded Perujazz in 1984. All four already had embarked on diverse musical ventures when they formed the band. Mujica had played as a jazz drummer and also with the psychedelic rock group Los Mad’s and then as an experimental music percussionist. Jean Pierre had been a multi-instrumentalist in Traffic Sound and saxophonist in several jazz ensembles. “Chocolate” had been part of the Afro-Peruvian ensemble Perú Negro and was one of Chabuca Granda’s percussionists of choice. His meeting with Manongo Mujica in 1981 was the beginning of series of collaborations, blending African influences and avant-garde jazz percussion. Meanwhile, in Chile, Enrique Luna had been a member of several fusion ensembles and, together with Manongo, set up the improvisation band Solos at the end of the 70s.
Carrying this musical baggage with them, Perujazz was formed in 1984 when Jean Pierre, without knowing what the future would hold, got them together to play jazz standards in a venue that had just opened called Satchmo. One day, the pianist couldn’t make it and the band noticed that the absence of this traditional jazz instrument created a different sound that they decided to explore in depth.
They were part of the new musical scene in Lima, strongly influenced by the cultural climate of the 70s, by Chabuca Granda and his innovations in criollismo, as well as by neofolk and nueva canción, all under the nationalist politics of the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado. The 80s ushered in a period of democratic transition and during the early years of the decade a new generation of fusion artists thrived. The country went through some tough times in this decade, due to the economic crisis and terrorist violence, which was far from being a propitious backdrop for the bold music projects that were fighting for a place on the cultural scene.
Perujazz managed to hold its ground and soon led the way in the avant-garde jazz scene. Inspired by jazz fusion from the 70s, they mixed cajón drums and Afro-Peruvian, Andean and jungle sounds with jazz, rock and funk in a powerful blend full of groove and psychedelia.