I have a considerable soft spot for that family of percussion instruments which are played with mallets. So, last week I was delighted to discover what a prominent role the marimba plays in the music of Latin America.
There have been several vibes virtuosi in jazz such as Lionel Hampton, Roy Ayers and Milt Jackson. But these versatile instruments appear in many different styles of music. Let’s not forget how much multi-instrumentalist Ruth Underwood contributed to the quirky sound of the Mothers of Invention. Or how the balafon playing of Malian Keletigui Diabate complemented Toumani Diabate’s kora so well. Without the stupendous Mulatku Astatke, the Ethiopian Jazz would never have happened.
My new discovery is Colombian marimbero, Hugo Canelario from the Pacific Coastal town of Guapi, who with his band , Grupo Bahia, has done much to spread the popularity of the “marimba de chonto.” I should also mention a tip from @Alias. From Ecuador, a vintage salsa album. Andarele by Carmen Gonzalez and Koral Y Esmeralda, which makes very effective use of marimba.