It was about twenty years ago that I first saw Eva Ayllón performing in Peru. It was in a small club in the beautiful, old barrio of Barranco in Lima, a late show where she was passionately singing Afro-Peruvian music. I loved it. In later years, I would go out on a Saturday night to a peña, a club where Peruvian folk music, especially música criolla, is played and the audience join in with singing and dancing. Some of those songs sung by Eva would come up time and time again, like Esta es mi Tierra, Zamba Malato, and Toro Mata.
Time forward, another country and Eva Ayllón was performing last night at the Bella Concert Hall, Mount Royal University, in Calgary. Eva got more comfortable once she had got over some possible effects of Calgary’s place in the foothills of The Rockies (“If I faint, please take me to a chifa restaurant!”, she said, in Spanish,) and went off stage briefly to change out of her high platform shoes into some more sensible flatties that freed her up to dance some steps of festejo and even make some landó turns.
It was a fairly simple musical set-up for this stop on her tour that traverses the USA and Canada before going on to Spain. There was no brass section or bass; no (other) dancers like you would see in a Peru Negro show. But there was plenty of rich, criolla sauce in her soulful, rhythmic songs like Raices del Festejo, Saca La Mano, and Nada Soy.
Eva’s son, Carlos Yamasaki (who was inspired to play percussion by Alex Acuña, best known for his outstanding work with Weather Report) was on stage, alongside Moisés Lama (keyboards), Eddy Sanchez (guitar), Yula Pumarada (backing vocals & percussion) and Leonardo “Gigio” Parodi, playing the quintessential instrument of Afro-Peruvian music, the cajon, with gusto.
It was a beautiful show at Bella; well-appreciated by the Peruvian diaspora of Alberta who shared a red and white flag for Eva to hold in one of her songs, convey her pride of Peru and show that Peru is proud of her. Muy orgullosa!
Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more images about Peru and performance.