For as long as I’ve know him, Ruben “Beny” Esguerra has been working tirelessly to complete a musical project that is the result of many years of studying, researching and performing Colombian traditional music, spoken word and hip-hop music.
Last December, while in Cartagena, Colombia, Beny’s producer and collaborator Luis Orbegozo handed me a CDR entitled A New Tradition. I listened to it on my flight home and was totally immersed in a world of tambores and poetry. I picked out elements of the album that I had heard Beny perform in Cuba and in Toronto many years prior, and I realized this whole album was a labour of love that Beny had been working on since I met him.
On A New Tradition, tambores and gaitas meet DJ scratches and beatboxes, the past and the present collide on the dancefloor creating perfect harmony between traditional and modern. A salsa will blend with dancehall, a cumbia rhythm becomes a break beat and it all brings the community, young and old, to the dance floor.
And it’s obvious that Beny’s sense of community helped create this album. From the 18 year old kid he has playing tambor and beatboxing, to his own brother DJing and designing the cover art – Beny brings together peoples of all walks of life to create and collaborate. A New Tradition is just as the title states, it’s the beginning of a new wave of Latino talent in Canada. All artists and performers, young Latinos who are creating new roots in Canada and developing new traditions to express their generation.
This Sunday, “A New Tradition” will perform as part of the FREE Cultural Community Fair on Day Two of the Uma Nota Festival. As always, the Uma Nota crew has gone out of their way to program a lineup full of inspirational, educational and motivational art, dance and music that will make you happy to be living in a city as rich in culture as Toronto.