"Cumbia Universal" (feat. Rubén Blades) - Oct. 2nd, 2015

ORDER ALBUM HERE: iTunes (digital) and Amazon.com (physical)

NYC’s favorite Latin ensemble, the captivating Gregorio Uribe Big Band, will celebrate the October 2 release of their highly anticipated album, Cumbia Universal, with what is sure to be a spirited party at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center on October 14. 

Born in Colombia, Uribe leads the high energy, must-see 16-piece band that blends Colombian rhythms cumbia and chandé with funk and powerful jazz technique. Credited by The Boston Globe with creating “an intoxicating variety” of music, Uribe has performed with Grammy winners Carlos Vives and Arturo O'Farrill and has been interviewed by CNN, Univisión, El Tiempo, and The Miami Herald. Cumbia Universal will be released by prestigious Latin jazz label Zoho Music, which has released albums by Grammy-winning artists Ray Barreto, Arturo O'Farrill, and Bobby Sanabria.

Liner Notes (by GRAMMY-winning producer Kabir Sehgal)

It’s Thursday night. The sun is down, and a star is out. A line forms outside Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village. They come to see the man in the hat: wearing his trademark sombrero vueltiao’, Gregorio Uribe takes the stage with aplomb. The Gregorio Uribe Big Band begins with a burst of tropical rhythms and ends with a fury of jazz harmonies and whistle-to-yourself-melodies. Indeed, the secret is out: Gregorio is the most exciting Latin musician to hit the scene in years.
     Hailing from Bogotá and educated at Berklee, Gregorio draws inspiration from the music of Rubén Blades and Duke Ellington. His sixteen-piece big band is composed of musicians from six countries, which has performed at the Kennedy Center and Blue Note. At last, the Gregorio Uribe Big Band releases its debut album Cumbia Universal. “Cumbia is part rhythm, part genre and part movement,” explains Gregorio. We hear the full range of cumbia: traditional Colombian folkloric rhythm that makes you dance; and sophisticated arranging with thoughtful lyrics that compel you to think. As you move your feet, make sure to look up -- this album is the opening salvo of a soaring star. 

Yo Vengo (“Here I Come”)
A cumbia which proclaims Gregorio as an artist who innovates (and takes risks). His accordion opens with syrupy, sustained chords, a prelude to bold even rebellious lyrics: “Thank you for the invitation. However don’t forget that tonight I call the shots.” He balances his bravado with modesty, “At a slow pace, Here I come…against the wind.” When an artist listens to his heart, genius is unleashed, and it sounds like Linus Wyrsch’s bluesy, incandescent clarinet solo.  

¿Qué vamos a hacer con este amor? (“What are we gonna do with this love?”)
This song depicts how love makes us crazy. It’s a metaphorical story of a guy and gal who visit “love’s” home -- only to drink, be merry, and eventually, burn it down. The remarkable Solange Prat from Argentina sings with Gregorio atop a groove which combines the pasebol from Colombia and dancehall from Jamaica. Gregorio (accordion), Sharel Cassity (alto saxophone), and Ignacio Hernández (guitar) add vivid solos.

El Avispao’(“The Cheater”)
What you call someone who games the system – the root of all problems in Latin America, according to Gregorio. He sings about the immoral: a teenager who cheats on her test and a government official who is susceptible to bribes. Yet the music is uplifting and incorporates the rhythms of puya, guacherna and chandé. Jonathan Gómez (alegre drum), Sam Hoyt (trumpet), Mike Fahie (trombone), and Sharel Cassity (alto sax) are featured soloists.

Goza cada día (“Enjoy everyday”)
In this enchanting cumbia and porro based composition, Gregorio makes you forget about yesterday and tomorrow. He sounds an observational note: “There is a sea of anguish that is soaking your thoughts.” Yet it’s important to “enjoy everything at its own time; be aware at every moment; of what life brings to you.”

Cumbia universal
The title track tells the origin of cumbia on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, and how it proliferated throughout the Americas. Cumbia is universal music, rhythm from our collective past. It’s also what brings together the vocalists: since he was twelve, Gregorio has admired Latin legend Rubén Blades and remarks, “I didn’t know tropical music could be so profound until I listened to him.” In 2005, Gregorio met Blades and told the maestro that one day they would work together. “The origin becomes the destiny,” are poetic and prophetic lyrics in this tribute to cumbia. Carl Maraghi’s baritone saxophone surfaces with a passionate solo.

¿Por qué se irá mi niño? (“Why does my child leave me?”)
A stirring elegy about the ritual performed in Colombian villages when a baby dies. For such a dirge to exist -- this tragedy happens far too often. Set to a salsa rhythm, Gregorio’s lyrics are searing: “Dressed in sadness / And the sun decided not to shine / Why does my child leave me?” Matthew McDonald amplifies these questions with his searching trombone solo. 

Caribe contigo (“With you in the Caribbean”)
A love song inspired by the beautiful landscape of the Caribbean: “I planted five tamarind trees...And told each that you drive me crazy so they could flourish.” The sunny refrain echoes triumphantly over the rhythms of tambora and puya with Mike Fahie (trombone) and Gregorio (accordion) adding joyful solos.  

Welcome to La Capital
Hailing from the high class society of Bogotá, Gregorio exposes the racist attitudes that he encounters: “I love black people / When they are young, they are so cute / I love how they sing / As long as I don’t have one for a son-in-law.” Gregorio explains, “These folks haven’t accepted their own roots; we are a mixture of indigenous, European, and African.” Jonathan Powell’s trumpet solo glides over a complex rhythm which combines puya from Colombia and afoxé from Brazil.

Come Together
The classic Beatles song en cumbia. It features Justin Flynn on tenor saxophone and a mashup of guest vocalists who demonstrate the universality of cumbia: reggae artist Meta Dia from Senegal, Sagit Shir from Israel who is part of the electro-pop duo “Hank and Cupcakes,” and jazz vocalist Sofia Ribeiro from Portugal. 

Ya comenzó la fiesta (“The fiesta has begun”)
Near the Caribbean, the Colombian town of San Pelayo is host to a street festival that celebrates the rhythm of porro. There’s marching, dancing, drinking. With marks of the traditional fandango, the celebration builds into a frenzy led by the town characters. “The party has begun…We’re going to Gregorio’s place.” Joining the party are Linus Wyrsch (clarinet), Hugo Moreno (trumpet), and Karina Colis (drums). 


Trumpets: Sam Hoyt (lead), Jonathan Powell (and flg.), Hugo Moreno (and flg.)

Trombones: Mike Fahie, Matt McDonald, George Saenz (b.tbn.)

Alto Sax: Sharel Cassity

Tenor Sax and Clarinet: Linus Wyrsch, Justin Flynn, Alejandro Aviles*, Juan Fernando Ruiz* (cl.) 

Baritone Sax: Carl Maraghi, Paul Nedzela*

Guitars: Ignacio Hernández

Electric Bass: Andrés Rotmistrovsky

Percussion: Jonathan Gómez (alegre drum, congas, caja vallenata, llamador, cymbals), Marcelo Woloski (tambora, bells, guacharaca, effects), Gregorio Uribe (guacharaca, maracas), Victor Cruz* (alegre drum)

Drum Set: Karina Colis

Background Vocals: Mireya Ramos, Solange Prat, Bryan Lazarus, Diego Obregón, Karina Colis*, Andrés Rotmistrovsky*, Victor Cruz*

Support Background Vocals on # 1: Mateo Salcedo, Eduardo Vargas

*Only on # 6.

Producers: Juan Pablo Mantilla, Gregorio Uribe and Kabir Sehgal. Recorded by: Aaron Nevezie and Todd Carder at The Bunker Studio, New York, NY, in 2014, except for “Caribe Contigo” recorded by Lawrence Manchester at MSR Studios, New York, NY,  and vocals on “Cumbia Universal” by Daniel Sanint at Flux Studios, New York, NY. Associate Producers: Juan Santiago & Mercedes Uribe, Pia & Peter Bodum Svare-Andersen and Kabir Sehgal. Mixed by: Manuel Jiménez at Arimaka Studios, Los Angeles, CA, except for “Caribe Contigo” mixed by Lawrence Manchester at Avatar Studios, New York, NY. Mastered by: Eric Boulanger at The Mastering Lab, Ojai, CA. Photography by: Rafael Piñeros - Mulato Films. Fashion consultant: Aura Dajer.  Initial album design by: Phillip Bodum - PB Design. Design adaptation by: Al Gold. Executive Producers: Gregorio Uribe, Juan Pablo Mantilla.


This album was made possible thanks to the contributions of hundreds of generous supporters on our Kickstarter campaign. Juan Santiago & Mercedes Uribe; my music is you. Thank you Pia & Peter Bodum Svare-Andersen, Liliana Rosselli-Risal, Ravassa Uribe family, Camilo Fernández De Soto, Lucy Blakeley, Harvey Heller, Verónica Uribe and all other contributors. Juan Pablo; my deepest gratitude goes to you for embarking on this odyssey with me. During the endless hours that we spent together making this album, I learned more about music, orchestration, syntax, perception, aesthetic and Thai food than I ever have in my life. Maestro Rubén Blades; many years ago you sang “Siembra cariño, siembra humildad y da frutos de esperanza a los que vienen detrás” - this is precisely what you have done by blessing this album with your voice. You were part of this adventure even before it begun. Carolina Ravassa; behind the curtain is the brightest light. Camilo Plazas, Phillip Bodum, Rafael Piñeros, Aura Dajer and Manuel Jiménez; the heart and soul with which you have supported this album is invaluable. Kabir; I thank you for your continuous guidance and for supporting my music since the day we met. Solange, Sagit, Meta and Sofia; you’ve made this album all the more universal. Finally, I would like to dedicate this album to the fantastic musicians who are, and have been, part of this quixotic dream that is Gregorio Uribe Big Band. I thank you eternally for lending me your talent and for believing that what I have to say should be heard. 

                                                                                -- Gregorio Uribe


This album was made possible thanks to the generous donations of: 

Liliana Rosselli-Risal

Pia and Peter Svare-Andersen

Mercedes and Juan Uribe

Lucy Blakeley

Harvey Heller

Sonia Garces

Verónica Uribe and Andrés Fernández De Soto

Camilo Fernandez de Soto

Fabrizio Ortegon

Maria Elvira Jaramillo, Charly C

Giovanna Rosselli

Ana Maria Fernandez de Soto

John O Jones


Danielle lafaurie

mary jaramillo

Jorge Velasco

enrique garces

Montse Ferrer

Alexander P Aranyos

Elizabeth Hansen

Chris Murphy

Mauricio Soto

ale rav

Phillip Bodum


Denisse Yanovich

Judy Hall

Marcel Arsenault

Ana Sofia Diaz Duran

Luis Antonio Ruiz

Maureen Balaguera

Marcela Giraldo

Angela Ortiz

Andres Jimenez

Angela Cala

Javier H Osorio

Alejandro Gallo

eitan koren

Beate Becker

Camilo martinez

Andres Torres

Jose Acero

Francesca Carendi

Clara Llano

Natalia Manrique

Alejandra Rosales F.

Paul Andreani

Eve Rittenberg

Kim Sweeney Polo

Gerardo Florez

Evemarie Schambach

Mario Chamorro

Maria Itati Moguilner

carolina ravassa

Kevin Feldman

Alana Gutierrez

Jeanne Drewsen

Andres Felipe Giraldo Buritica

Melissa Lozano

Laura Panebianco

Carlos Villamil


Carleth Revete

Gerald W. Blakeley, III

Juan C Velasquez

Natalia Lobo-Guerrero

Mauricio Rincon

Lux elena ramos

Machis Pulido

Esteban Jaramillo A

Nayeli Chavez-Geller

Diana Garcia

Johana Henao

Deven walker

Mona Mouallem

Boris Acosta

Ricardo Garcia

Adriana Ospina

Naomi Kincler

Cristal Downing

Juan F. Gorricho

Julian Ossa

Sandra Watmough-Desaulniers

Maddy Artunduaga

Elena Ortiz


Luisa Villa

Elisabeth Thompson


Margarita Florez

Marisela Riveros

Tatiana Pereira Vlacich

Jonathan Chang

fabio montenegro

Brett Szalapski

John Olson

Maria Olga Isaza

Susan Parker

Adriana Buendia

Magda Martinelli-Torres



Hannah O'Connell

Antonio J. Copete

Mateo Salcedo

Lina Calle

Patrick Grosch

Marcela Rodriguez

edardo vargas

Felipe Uribe Restrepo

Anmol Vanamali

Mor Mezrich

Alvaro Morales

andres daza

Dana Dobreva

Jared Faber

david fielding

Diana Carrillo

Carolina Castaneda

Sarah Arango

Patricia Noonan

Eric Oberstein

Rebecca Brunner

Diana Jimenez

Colombia Festiva

Francisco Alvarez

Pablo Pazos

Orlando Godoy

Thomas Morris

Ana Maria Hermida

Manolo Celi

Catalina Perdomo

Alexandra Sardi

Daniel Tellez Delgado

Paola Mendoza

Joshua Cetron

Richard Rincon

Daniel Echavarria


Scott M. Manson

Susana Perez

Francisco José Noguera

Ann Rybak

Carolina Fernandez

Samuel Albis

Outi Jaaskelainen


Evelyne Veillette

Lilihouse Music/El Colectivo Sur

Juan Ospina

Elsa Lama

Andres Velasquez

Dirk Eggink



Carmen Lopez-Ramirez

Beverley Davies

Andrew Farrington

John Hannaford

Gabriela Ravassa


ari kuschnir

carolina calvache



Frank Basile

Brian O'Neill


Laura Maria Palau

Mariella Belli

juan saa

Jorge Chica

Gabriel Seidner

Chris Perez


Daniel Peralta

Carolina Padilla Villegas

Norimasa Ganjo

William Herron

Juan Yepes

Jason Middleton


Analuz Vizarretea

Manuel Jimenez


Santiago Ramos

Maria Lucia Streubel

Andres Beker, Fernan and Bruno Ocampo

Elisabeth Fabila

Gustavo Cuevas

Christine Vaindirlis

Miguel Fajardo

Kai Kronfield

Dayna S

Carlos Walker



Alejandro Cárdenas Zuleta

Manuel Felipe Pulido

Banda Magda

Juan David Arbelaez

Juliana Gomez

Laura Gomez

Juan Sebastian Cortés Arango


Maria Paulina Uribe

Maria Maldonado

Carlos A Zuniga

Alejandro Groot

Isabel Fernández Castrillón

Helena Martin

Alejandro Zorrilla

Camilo Gonzalez Paez

Andres Marin

Ani Cordero

AnNie NaRanjo

Carolina Pastrana

Maria Del Mar 

Keidy Amaya y felix medina

Rosemary Reyes

Patricia y Sarah Cancino 

Jorge Arevalo

Esteban Uribe

Cristina Echeverri 

Socorro Pulido

Magda Moreno

Ben Nathan

Mariel Sol

Sarah Shields 

Elena Garces