Crossing generations, and cultures, is what truly defines a timeless piece of music. For Latin American’s in music, a stamp that most share are through the threads and romance of Boleros. Originated in Cuba in 1883, Bolero became a poetic language of love and reached international popularity in Mexico during the “Golden Age” of Cinema, alleviating its popularity amongst screen actors who belted out their feelings in 16 bars, aided by harmonizing guitars. As time passed, Bolero music saw its transformation through pop in the 70s, and a decline as younger generations embraced Latin Rock. Yet, none can question the impact that a well-written and delivered Bolero may have on all listeners.
To celebrate the history, Robert Carlo’s curation Boleros De Noche makes its way to Los Angeles, July 6th at Ford Theatres for an unforgettable experience to conserve the heart of the Bolero. Since its 2015 debut, Boleros De Noche have presented 8 successful music series to bring generations together. This year, the series will present Mexico’s iconic Bolero group, Los Tres Reyes and GRAMMY® award-winning recording artist Rosalie Rodriguez.
Aside from the point that we think this is a must see event for any music lover who would like to immerse themselves in a historic sound, this also brings up the question of ‘what is next’ for the genre? With many things in life, music grows as it absorbs what it can from each person, culture, and point in time. No one can argue of the classics’ beauty and breathtaking ballads, but there is appreciation for the next generation of romantics who pull their inspiration from the Bolero and make it their own.
Hailing from Monterrey, Mexico, Pirámides are the definition of what Bolero evolution should sound like, especially on their latest album Superficie de Uso Mixto Vol.1. The duo’s modern touch is heard on their ambiance soundscape and unique production. They swing from Bolero Rock — holding on to more psychedelic influences than anything — to the sweet aroma of Bolero Pop. A track in particular “Ráfagas” rings to the heart of a true Bolero. Harmonizing and layering vocals sweep across a flourishing guitar and settle cozily within the heart of the sentimental lyrics. Traditionally keeping an instrumental break, as most Boleros do, the duo’s version uses what makes a Bolero significant and caresses it with experimental samples.
One of the more modern take on a bolero is from Los Angeles artist, Gemma Castro, and her solo self-titled EP. We’ve heard Castro as backing vocals for some local artists but nothing quite hits the spot as her own work. There’s a fragile longing in her vocals that truly speaks to the heartache that boleros possess. Castro flushes these feelings out with a slight jazz meshing that could easily evolve into a bossa nova sound if explored further. It’s modern for the time — hazy and dreamy — but is carried in such an emotive way that you do fall in love with its dream-pop fusion.
Venezuelan artist, Ángelica Rojas takes on a more traditional and folk-esque vibe with her love ballads. Her most loved album (personal opinion) would her 2010 collection, A Los Andes, which highlights the sensuality and slower-tempo of a Bolero, fused with Andean Folk. Rojas’ airy vocals provide the gentle touch that cradles the romance alongside beautiful, classical arrangements.
Coachella-Cumbia fusers, Ocho Ojos, have an intense and rhythmic quality to their sound. Adding to the rise of generational Latin music heard loudly in Southern California, Ocho Ojos slowed down their groove and delivered a lush ballad, “El Hoyo.” What the track lacks in words is made up through the heavy-hearted guitar. Vocals eventually find their way to the track’s spotlight as the story unfolds simply by the instrumentation.
Cuban singer, Migue de la Rosa teams up with Yaima Orozco on his last album Para Revolver, which pulls from traditional nueva trova influences and dives into deeper political issues, aside from romance, which takes notes from its ancestral genre, the bolero. The whole album is thick with smooth finger plucking and rhythmic duets allowing the delivery of the vocals to tell the story. Familiar features of the traditional bolero are heard, such as the distinct instrumental break, vulnerability, and short ending. This sound can easily be appreciated, especially the beautiful guitar techniques, and will be another platform for genres to catapult from.
Los Angeles artist, Gavin Gamboa, does something interesting with classic Boleros that not only sums up the genres popularity again but the creative aspects on chopping and sampling the best of this timeless sound. Fittingly titled Boleros Interrumpidos, Gamboa’s album blurs the line of classics and mashes them up into an off the wall production. The album might be hard to fully listen to for some, but can be sampled into something bigger and is overall a good concept. Slightly foreshadows the focus on production this year.
Ticket prices start at $40; Reserved seating. Tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or 323-461-3673 (for non-visual media 323-GO-1-FORD)