One of the most iconic bands in Chilean music, Congreso has been performing its unique style of Latin American fusion for over 45 years. Today, the group is celebrated for refined compositions and socially conscious lyrics: “a magical carousel that unites indigenous rhythms, contemporary music and jazz harmonies; new musical compositions that inhabit a universe in expansion” (La Nación).
Congreso began as a progressive folk band in 1969, but its origins date back even further. The group arose from a union of the González brothers Patricio, Sergio and Fernando (joined by bassist Stolen Fernando) of the 1960s psych band Los Sicodélicos with vocalist Francisco Sazo of the short-lived Chilean rock band Los Masters. While the result was a musical style that bore some features of the British psychedelic and progressive rock bands that had inspired them, Congreso distinguished itself early on by employing native instrumentation, and incorporating elements of the traditional Latin American dance rhythms called cueca. Another major influence was the visionary American jazz-fusion band Weather Report.
Congreso’s early albums favoured an acoustic folk style with cultural themes to complement its more traditional arrangements. By the 1980's, however, the group had adjusted to Sazo's temporary absence by adopting a more improvisational sound that still emphasized indigenous rhythms but, at the same time, embraced aspects of experimental music. With the return of Sazo in the 1990s, the band once again gravitated toward its folk roots.
Congreso produced two important works in 1992. The first, entitled Fires Ice, was music composed for ballet, which was premiered by Ballet de Santiago in the Municipal Theatre Santiago de Chile. The second, La Pichanga, was created with national ‘antipoet’ Nicanor Parra and was based on the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.