Yasser Tejeda & Palotré Release Their Second Album, ‘Kijombo’
“New York-based singer Yasser Tejeda and his band Palotré unearth the musical roots of his Dominican Republic in “Nuestras Raíces,” the lead single from Kijombo” – Pamela Bustios/ Billboard
Yasser Tejeda & his band Palotré are pleased to announce the release of their second album, ‘Kijombo’. On ‘Kijombo’, which was released on October 11th, Tejeda has produced a masterful, danceable, and exhilarating fusion of Dominican roots music with rock, funk, r&b, jazz and soul. Mining traditional Dominican folkloric rhythms that are played in the countryside of DR, Kijombo takes you on a journey to the “Other” Dominican Republic, beyond the popular merengue and bachata, to its sacred mysteries, and Afro-diasporic cultures. Tejeda’s band Palotré is made up of drummer Victor Otoniel Vargas, percussionist Jonathan Troncoso and bassist Kyle Miles. The project has spawned three commercially and critically successful singles that have garnered attention from Billboard, Afropop Worldwide, Remezcla, PopMatters, NPR’s Alt Latino, WNYC’s New Sounds, and others.
The album’s title ‘Kijombo’ comes from Afro-Dominican gatherings called quijombo, developed to create musical and cultural circles of celebration and resistance. ‘Kijombo’ shifts gears and rhythms seamlessly, from the double-time rustic merengue of perico ripiao on “Swing Ripiao,” featuring the singular accordion talent of El Prodigio to the push-and-pull jazz/gagá energy of “La Culebra.” Tunes like “Mambodega” and “La Salve Eléctrica” translate roots rhythms into free-flowing jazz excursions, with the latter featuring a haunting interchange between Tejeda and bassist Kyle Miles. The gagá-fueled mood swings of “Del Otro Lado” are reminiscent of the Dominican electro-roots master Luis Dias and features the uncommon heavy metal intensity that Tejeda brings to jazz-fusion guitar. Check out the premiere on Afropop Worldwide.
The lead single on this album is entitled “Nuestras Raices.” The track is a frenetic, celebratory vehicle of Dominican palo rhythms that mixes together three different percussive instruments called ‘Palos’, a hyperactive horn section and Tejeda’s power chord guitar, sounding like Carlos Santana in his early 70s Caravanserai moment. “The lyrics of this song are about motivating younger generations to explore their roots, inspire people to follow their dreams and create new ideas.” See the premiere on Remezcla.
Perhaps the album’s most lyrical track is “Amor Arrayano,” featuring Vicente García’s inimitable songwriting and vocal skills. Recalling the dexterity and poetic impact of his work on Candela, García offers up a tale about a difficult love between a Haitian man and a Dominican woman who live on opposite sides of the border between the two countries. “Arrayano means that you are half-Haitian and half-Dominican,” said Tejeda. “But it also refers to the people that live in that border region. The guy in the song is offering a chant to Papa Legba, the god of the crossroads, to open a path for him so he can go to Santo Domingo to see his woman.” Check out the premiere on PopMatters.
“Amor que en mi pecho no tiene bandera,” sings García, insisting that love transcends national boundaries. In a sense it’s a metaphor for ‘Kijombo’ itself, an album that seeks to uncover the cultures and dreams of a people that the Dominican Republic, and the rest of the world is in danger of forgetting. ‘Kijombo’ tries to do this with a celebratory, joyous energy that makes learning about the complexities of disconnected African roots a kind of postmodern, urban, cosmopolitan party.
“What we’re doing is unearthing a hidden treasure,” said Tejeda about the mission of his music and his band, Palotré. “People dance at our live shows because in the end African music and African American music like jazz, blues, gospel, are all related to palos and Dominican roots music. I’m into R&B, gospel and heavy rock music – you can see that all those connections go together–the Congolese guitar, the West African guitar. It’s the music of the “other” Dominican Republic that’s for too long been hidden.”
More about the artist:
Tejeda grew up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, moved to Boston to study at the famed Berklee School of Music and is now based in New York. In addition to his pursuit of roots music ecstasy, he has toured extensively with pop star Prince Royce and recently collaborated with longtime friend Vicente García on his latest album ‘Candela.’
After moving to New York in 2013, Tejeda put together his band Palotré: drummer Victor Otoniel Vargas, percussionist Jonathan Troncoso and bassist Kyle Miles. Palotré was ready to bring all the long-established Dominican experiences into one mix, merging the traditional Dominican culture with Jimi Hendrix, bebop, and the blues.