Arts, Culture & Media

Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto Play to a Traditional Cumbia Beat

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Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto take their name from the "Gaita." It's an indigenous wooden flute, about a yard-long, from Colombia's Caribbean coast. The group has played Colombian Cumbia since the late 1930s. Gabriel Torregrosa is one of the youngest members of the group. He's in his late-30s and is the band's musical director. Torregrosa says, "You can hear three ethnic traditions in Los Gaiteros's music. There's the indigenous influence of the Gaita and the maracas, the African polyrhythms on the drums and the Spanish lyrics." Cumbia is one of Latin America's most popular dance forms. The Cumbia beat is essentially the same played in every country. But the instruments that play it can vary, from accordion to keyboards, electric guitar or acoustic bass. But no matter the trends, Los Gaiteros continue to play with the original indigenous instruments. Gabriel Torregrosa hopes that by teaching young musicians their traditions, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto will keep the fire of this music going for years to come.

  • Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, playing in Los Angeles (Photo Credit: Betto Arcos)

  • Gabriel Torregrosa, playing the small flute called "Alegre" (Photo Credit: Betto Arcos)

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