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Ensemble band Baracutanga boasts UNM flavor

People dancing.

This is the name of local band Baracutanga translated into English. But to the band, it’s more than a name; it’s the goal.

Founded by Kilko Paz, a graduate student at UNM, and Carlos Noboa, Baracutanga originally started as a South American percussion band before it evolved into its own blend of genres.

Within six years, it had grown into a seven-member ensemble of what the musicians can only describe as “world music.”

Baracutanga members Paz, Noboa, Jackie Zamora, who is another graduate student at UNM, Nick Baker, Paul Gonzales, Randy Sanchez and Micah Hood, a music appreciation instructor at UNM, are now gearing up to release their debut album “Importados” on Saturday.

Influences of the music in “Importados” come from all over the world – as do the members: Paz from Bolivia, Noboa from Ecuador, Zamora from Perú, Baker from Kansas City, Gonzales and Sanchez from New Mexico and Hood from Texas.

Each member had something different to say about the goal and message of the music, but they all agree on one aspect: Baracutanga’s music is meant to cross cultural barriers and get people of all backgrounds to dance with them.

“True dancing and true music. That is the way of communicating. So (people) get involved with the band even though they don’t understand the lyrics,” Paz said.

“Music is its own language,” Baker said. “This music is more than just entertainment. The energies that we’re drawing on go back to the earth and the people of the earth.”

Baker said the universal language of music breaks down into three things: instruments, singing and dancing.

“To me, music necessitates those three things coming together to be full,” he said.

Expanding on that, Hood said there are also different functions of the language of music: the popular aspect, the cultural aspect, and the higher art aspect.

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“Cultural music doesn’t necessarily have to speak to just the members of that culture if you’re willing to assimilate,” Hood said.

Baracutanga makes sure to include all of these things in their shows.

The message of “Importados” varies with each song, but the ultimate message is that we are all one people, Hood said.

The theme of the album deals with the social problems occurring in some of the members’ home countries, as well as the rise in police brutality here in the United States. “Importados” is a musical protest against the violence.

“Dance is a way to protest for me. Where I come from in Bolivia, street protests are filled with drums and everybody singing and yelling, and there is a very loud march,” Paz said. “They are marching for really serious issues about inequality.”

Baracutanga members define their music as “world music” because it is a mixture of rhythms and genre taken from many different cultures. The musical styles worked in include Peruvian huayño, Colombian cumbia, Middle-Eastern derbuka, Afro-Cuban batá, Afro-Peruvian festejo, Andian zampoñas and much more.

The band’s unique take on genre has won it awards for two singles from “Importados” at the New Mexico Music Awards. “Rumba de Burque,” the band’s ode to Albuquerque, won the NMMA song competition in 2014 and “Deja de Matar” won Best Original Arrangement in 2015.

Baracutanga will be hosting a 21+ CD release party at Sister Bar on Saturday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 each, and the purchase of a ticket gets a $5 discount off the purchase of a CD.

Those who are interested can listen to Baracutanga’s award-winning singles on YouTube:

“Deja de Matar”

“Rumba de Burque”

Skylar Griego is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @TDLBooks.

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