Guataca: Ensamble Gurrufío

Originally found on and written by Juan Carlos Ballesta.

This post is in no way claiming that Ernesto Rangel is the original author. Rather, as a Co-Founder of Guataca Nights, he is spotlighting both a great musician (Ensamble Gurrufío) and a great writer (Juan Carlos Ballesta) by sharing this content and spreading word of these two great talents.

In 1984, three restless and virtuous instrumentalists met with the aim of creating traditional Venezuelan instrumental music. They were Luis Julio Toro on the flute, Cristóbal Soto on the mandolin and cuatro player Asdrúbal “Cheo” Hurtado. Five years later they were joined by bassist David “Zancudo” Peña, then recorded their first four albums.

Two of those founders, Hurtado and Soto, reconnected in Paris to recreate the Ensemble Gurrufío which, thanks to Guataca a nonprofit music platform, played in Madrid. Toro and his replacement Manual Rojas were unable to attend, but in their place was Omar Acosta who now runs the Madrid section of Guataca. José Vicente Muñoz performed in place of Peña, and Hayley Meza provided vocals.

They started with “Morenita” by Pedro Oropeza Volcan that they recorded for their debut album, Maroa in 1993. From that same album, they chose “Maroa,” a composition by Soto. They also performed “El cucarachero” a classical piece by Acosta from their 1999 live album.

Another unforgettable piece was “Apure en un viaje” by Genaro Prieto, which opened their first album. They performed “El Marimbolero,” which gave way to the next segment, that of singer Hayley Soto.

Hayle began “La negra Atilia” by Pablo Mamacao, with lyrics by Henry Martínez. They then played “Polo,” by Luis Mariano Rivera, one of the great Venezuelan oriental folklore musicians.

From the well-known music style of Heraclio Hernandez, “El diablo suelto” followed with an inspirational take that was applauded by the audience. The concert continued with “Tuyero,” performed by Hurtado and Muñoz along with Cristóbal Soto on the harp. Hurtado and Muñoz, played their interpretation of “Los diamantes” and “San Rafael” with singer Cheo.

With Acosta again on stage, they played another of his songs, “Pasaje en flauta,” which gave way to him playing “Pajarillo con seis por derecho.” During the performance, an audience member Tomás also participated by playing the maracas.

With the audience fired up from the past performance, they went back on stage to play “Atardecer,” with the help of Hayley to calm them down. While it was supposed to be the last performance, the audience insisted on one more. The last song of the performance was “El espanto” which was performed by everyone.

It was another spectacular performance at Guataca, which continues to achieve remarkable success. Formed by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ernesto Rangel and renowned musician Aquiles Báez more than ten years ago, Guataca has been showcasing Venezuela’s talented artists. Many are beginning to speculate who the next performer will be.

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