Ayó - The Garifuna Collective

Cumbancha

In 2007, the late Andy Palacio introduced the world to an endangered culture and its music. There remain only about 600 thousand Garifuna people in Central America and in the United States and their language (a dialect of the Arawak Indians) was all but lost. Wátina, the original album by Palacio and the Garifuna Collective was a charming, uplifting recording with such a powerful back-story, it quickly become one of the most talked about and celebrated world music albums since the Buena Vista Social Club. But, unlike that phenomenon, it did not spin off an increasingly lack luster catalogue of follow-ups and solo projects trying to capture lightning in a bottle. Instead, we were treated to ‘Umalali’, the debut by the Garifuna Women’s Project as an aside that was released with little fanfare and quietly continued the work of Ivan Duran, the producer of Watina with the Garifuna artists. Six years after Palacio’s untimely passing, Cumbancha Records pays a fond farewell and, with Duran once again at the helm, presents Ayó (Goodbye), the return of the Garifuna Collective. Allowing some time and space between Ayó and the original was an incredibly astute move. This is more than a tribute. Ayo is quite simply a better album than Wátina. The energy is more uplifting, the guitars are more interesting and the compositions are way hookier. Duran explains, “Ayo has a much more modern sound, not just on a technical level, but also in its approach. There was a little more control in the studio and this time we were pushing the limits. This album sounds like it was made by a band; there’s a group spirit that comes across more clearly than every before.” That band synergy should only strengthen as the collective tours North America this summer with Canadian, Danny Michel. In overshadowing its predecessor, Ayó pays an even bigger tribute to Palacio. “Andy’s legacy is just showing the way, proving that the world is interested in this culture’s music,” reflects Duran. “The sense of self-pride is a potent message that continues to echo across Belize and inspire new musicians to keep their traditions thriving.” Key tracks: Ayó, Galuma, Ubóu.