Iemanjo is trumpeter/ukelele-ist/percussionist/singer Ben Harris. From parading with the Samba blocos in Brazil’s capitals to studying sacred plant medicines with shamans in the jungles of Colombia, Harris has soaked up the sonic universe that is Latin America and spun it into something completely his own.
On “El Condor Pasa,” Ben reverse engineers the Simon & Garfunkel hit (originally written by Peruvian Daniel Alomía Robles), stripping it down to its Andean folk roots and then reimagining it as a lilting, reggae-flavored, tropical melody set to Iemanjo’s trademark wall of sound (said wall made of ukes, flutes, trumpets, charanga and other acoustic accoutrements).
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Funny ("ha ha") how this song’s longing for freedom over oppression seems to forever resonate. The power of the track lies in the narrator’s belief that the former will ultimately prevail. Its sincerity lies in Iemanjo’s joyful, reverent performance.
“I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail.” Definitely.
[ERRATA: the original post of this blog incorrectly credited the recording artist and the songwriter. That information has updated.)