Novalima at Grand Central January 7

Listening to Novalima, fans will find similarities between the modern Afro-Peruvian group and the highly percussive sounds heard every night in Calle Ocho nightclubs. After all, both Peru and Cuba have a long history of blending the music of formerly enslaved Africans with the drums of native people to create something completely fresh yet somewhat familiar. And, the two countries' sonic scenes have cross-pollinated for decades, ever since the mambo explosion of the mid-'50s. One classic example: The late queen of salsa Celia Cruz made a hit out of "El Toro Mata," a composition by Lima-born Maria Chabuca Granda.

That said, Novalima isn't about rehashing old. The band takes its music to a different level, incorporating contemporary elements such as hip-hop, electronica, and even samba to create new textures. Adding unexpected ingredients to the mix, Novalima revitalizes near-forgotten Afro-Peruvian musical traditions and reintroduces them to a younger audience who will hopefully take the time to discover where it all came from in the first place.

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Ernest Barteldes

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