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Colombia’s Palo Cruza’o is one of the most revered groups of its kind, created 30 years ago by Omar Fandiño to help popularize the folkloric sounds of the Eastern Colombian plains (called música llanera or joropo). For its artistry on the album En Armonías Colombianas (In Colombian Harmonies) the pioneering ensemble won a 2016 Latin Grammy in the “Best Folk Album” category.
The name Palo Cruza’o derives from the type of maraca (gourd-shaped rattle) that it uses as a percussion instrument and that represents the indigenous contribution to traditional music. The band was founded by two artists from Bogotá, three from Boyaca and one from Metense. Despite their different origins, all six strongly identified as children of the plains. Great masters of llanera music such as Giovanny López (one of the first voices), Wilton Gámez, William Castro, Ramón Torres and Juan Carlos Contreras are some of Paulo Cruzao’s most celebrated alumni.
The essence of Palo Cruza’o is taking the joropo to new places through integrating various non-traditional instruments. The harp, the cuatro and the capachos are augmented by the chonta marimba, the saxophone, the accordion, the Andean bandola, the tiple, the traditional requinto of the carranga, and even the bagpipe of Pacific music. The current band members are Robinson Gómez (harp), Fredy Pérez (vocals), Carlos López “Calao” (bass guitar), Libardo Rey (cuatro), Alejandro Cordero (mandolin), Diana Isabel (vocals) and Omar Fandiño “Choco” (maracas).
Palo Cruza’o has proudly represented Colombia around the globe, including a landmark appearance at TD Sunfest 2012.