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Masters of Rhythm 2015


Distributed by Palomino Productions, PO Box 8565, Berkeley, CA 94707; 510-236-3257
Produced by Eve. A. Ma
Directed by Eve. A. Ma
DVD , color, 88 min.

College - General Adult
Music, Afro-Peruvian Music, Percussion, Cajón

Date Entered: 06/07/2016

Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

A brief but insightful look at Afro-Peruvian music and dance through the lens of percussion, Masters of Rhythm employs interviews and performances to introduce viewers to the cajón as well as other percussion instruments, and to showcase the prodigious talents of three true masters of Afro-Peruvian rhythm.

Director/producer Eve. A. Ma (A Zest for Life: Afro-Peruvian Rhythms, A Source of Latin Jazz (2010), Flamenco: The Land is Still Fertile) travels to Lima, Peru to interview three legendary cajón players—Juan Medrano Cotito, Freddy Huevito Lobatón Beltran and Lalo Izquierdo—who recall childhoods steeped in music and dance, family gatherings and neighborhood celebrations where they felt the call to take up the cajón at an early age. They list the primary Afro-Peruvian percussion instruments: cajón, cajita, quijada de burro, zapateo, palmas and guapeo (all except the cajita make an appearance here); explain how some rhythmic patterns found in modern Afro-Peruvian music originate from the days of slavery, when they were used to communicate messages over long distances; and discuss the influence of Afro-Peruvian rhythms on modern Latin jazz and flamenco.

But the heart of the documentary belongs to this trio of musicians in their element—playing, singing and dancing with masterful technique, infectious joy and verve. The energy in these performances is palpable, and will leave viewers wanting to see, hear and know more about this style of music.

Lively in tone and pace, with clean video editing and good audio throughout, Masters of Rhythm is a fine choice especially for academic libraries supporting programs in world music and percussion performance, and would work well in a classroom situation. In Spanish and English, with English subtitles.