Edery sings Yupanki
Sefarad records, release date, 24 Jan, 2012
Review by Carolina Amoruso
Gerard Edery has made a noble attempt, with his pedigree assured by the
Manhattan School of Music and the operatic stage, to bestow Atahualpa
Yupanqui upon a global audience. The Moroccan-born composer, vocalist and
instrumentalist has embraced Don Ata’s mission to hallow his indigenous roots
through the music he wrote and rendered with a sublime guitar and lofty voice.
Edery pays homage to this adopted Inca son by reprising the chanting of tillers
in the fields, the languid guitar melodies lamenting lost traditions, the pain of
the Columbian Encounter and subjugation, the continued oppression of working
A searcher, Edery has explored traditional music from near and far reaches
worldwide. For him, the most succulent fruit of his forays has been that of
the Argentinean troubadour, his “hero,” as he puts it in his own words. Edery
sings Yupanqui is a eulogy, delivered with the utmost reverence. The master’s
humanity and his evocative and poignant words come through. But not his soul.
Edery sings Yupanqui is lovely, but, for me, somewhat eviscerated and studied.
Being a man of letters, of the world, of breadth, Edery serves Don Ata well
as an ambassador, though; he has offered to the globalized children of the
technological age a touchstone luminary marginalized by a tidal shift since his
senescence and death, in 1992, that “sellabrates” low-content, high-voltage
irrelevancies. He’s put the bard’s redoubtable name on their lips, his luscious
images on their mindscreen, the fiber of his people within their own being, and
his steadfastness against injustice in their shadow. What could be wrong with
The 13 tracks are scored with instrumentation expanded from just Yupanqui’s
guitar to include a bass, a hint of electronic strings and basic percussion to
achieve a more contemporary rhythmic undertone. The additions are subtle and
don’t compromise an overall feeling of intimacy.
“Camino del Indio” is, if one can say it, a beautiful lament, read as both a
metaphorical and literal story of the Andean people, their lifeline equally
extended towards earth and heavens, the way over the road they have hoed and
trod upon too-often times rocky.
Caminito del indio
Que junta el valle con las estrellas.
Caminito que anduvo
De sur a norte
Mi raza vieja…
Edery couldn’t help but cover the fetching canción de cuna, “Duerme Negrito,” in
doing so paying homage, too, to other icons of the Cono Sur —Mercedes Sosa
and Victor Jara most notably--who covered and eventually co-possessed it. He
adds a number of tasteful guitar strains in the opening section and closes with a
convincing recitative. (Don Ata did not claim “Duerme Negrito” to be his, but a
tune borrowed from a field song he’d heard on the Caribbean side of the border
between Colombia and Venezuela.)
I’m a fool for guitar-themed songs (Ringo’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is
one, Polo Montañez’ “Guitarra Mia” another). “Guitarra, Dímelo Tú” is perhaps
the bleakest on this album, with the most poetic lyrics. Its refrain, “¿ Porqué
la noche es tan larga¿. Guitarra dímelo tú” is nestled in between images of
desolation and, probably, truth:
Los hombres son dioses muertos,
de un tiempo ya derrumbao,
ni sus sueños se salvaron,
sólo la sombra ha quedao.
The percussion adds urgency to the arrangement here, insistent and ominous,
but the vocal falls short, as it will throughout the album.
Gerard Edery has set for himself a difficult challenge to claim and reprise
such immediate and personal lyrics. If he falls short, it’s not for not trying.
Edery Sings Yupanqui is of value because it brings to the fore, with honesty
and integrity, the work of a beloved icon of a faded generation of music of