MACUILXOCHITL: “Five Flower”, the Aztec god of music and dance
By: Francisco H. Ciriza
The 45th installment of the Annual Grammy Awards held in New York’s Madison Square Garden named Bacilos’ Caraluna “Best Latin Pop Album”. The U.S.-based band was clearly and understandably giddy after receiving the award for their sophomore release on Warner Music Latina.
Produced by Luis Fernando Ochoa (Shakira), Sergio George (Marc Anthony) and Bacilos, Caraluna, contains eleven tracks, including one song with exclusively English lyrics, Don’t Worry Elena. The album is a mix of various styles molded into a poppy, yet very complex and eclectic set of sounds. Bacilos seems to have created the near perfect mixture of influences by mixing the ethnic sounds of their native Colombia, Brazil and Puerto Rico with contemporary melodies fusing the cumbia, vallenato, bossa, pagodi, salsa with rock, pop, ska and even classical music.
“We are on cloud nine.” said front man Jorge Villamizar. “To be nominated was a thrill, but to actually hold the Grammy in our hands and be honored by our peers is a wonderful and joyous feeling. We want to thank all our fans around the world, especially those in Miami and the rest of the U.S.”.
“It is a pleasure to be representing not only Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico but Latin America and Latin-Americans in Miami”, continued bassist Andre Lopes, “this Grammy is for everyone that has embraced our music and for Latin America and its music for being an endless fountain of inspiration to Bacilos. Let us all be proud of our heritage, our culture”.
Drummer and percussionist J. J. Freire added, “we have a piece of each one of our fans’ heart in ours, this is for them and for our families and for everyone that has believed in our music.”
Bacilos is composed of Colombian singer/songwriter and guitarist Jorge Villamizar, Puerto Rican Jose Javier (J.J.) Freire on drums and percussion and Brazilian bassist Andre Lopes. Since the release of their self-titled debut album, the band has gone through a creative metamorphosis, earning multiple Latin Grammy nominations, Gold and Platinum Records in several countries, a tour with Alejandro Sanz as well as receiving highly praised reviews including the coveted “Spotlight Review” and a feature profile in Billboard Magazine.
The band members met each other while attending the University of Miami and used their surrounding sounds to create a unique brand of music of their own. “We’re influenced by not only all of the Latino music we heard at home growing up, but also the popular music we heard like rock and especially rock en espanol” , says J.J. Freire. “There’s a lot of music that came together here.”
The group’s current single, “Mi Primer Millón” has reached the top of the radio charts worldwide. In France it has reached the # 1 spot on Paris’ Top Radio Latina. Mexico and Spain have recently released Caraluna to wide acclaim by critics and fans. The album’s first single, “Caraluna”, has risen to the top of the charts around the world achieving the #1 spot in Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Chile, Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia and remains among the Top 15 Hits on Billboard’s Latin charts.
The staggered release dates make band’s itinerary for the next few months seem a bit scattered and most definitely hectic as the group comes to California for a series of four shows, then to Texas. “In the middle of that, we have to go back to Miami for two shows,” adds Freire. “It’s happening in stages. Also, we’re mixing concert appearances with promotional appearances.”
It appears Freire and the rest of Bacilos have been able to negotiate their respective cultural and musical roots to join in a brotherhood of sorts. Furthermore, the young men seem to be as nimble in the handling of the paths of their musical career, however divergent as they may seem at times, with just as much finesse and ease.
Bacilos plays Solana Beach’s Belly Up Tavern on March 4th.