Chilean-born musician Marco Claveria launches new album in Canada

The Latin-influenced record has its foundations in Chile’s folk music, including the country’s national dance, the cueca.

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It has been a long time since Marco Claveria lived in his hometown of Santiago, Chile. But a listen to the musician’s new album confirm his roots in Chilean folk.

The 47-year-old resides in Edmonton, Canada where he plans to launch a tour in support of his album “Essencias”, or “Essences,” the debut for his band, the Marco Claveria Project, released Nov. 12.

But his foundations were very much in Chilean music. Living in Santiago until the age of 19, he grew up in a musical household, listening to Chilean folk band Inti-Illimani and progressive rock band Congreso, as well as Cuban music.

Claveria started playing guitar at the age of 10, learning Chilean folk songs and other styles of popular Chilean music, including the country’s national dance, cueca. When his family moved to Canada in 1982, his passion for music continued and he enrolled the music program in Edmonton’s Grant McEwan Community College.

He calls his new CD Essencias to reflect the various genres of Latin music he now incorporates into his own.

“I am still a Chilean at heart,” Claveria told This Is Chile . “With music, you try to keep that alive by playing the music you grew up with or from your country. That is why I never stop listening to all those bands from Chile.

“The thing is a lot of people when you say Latin music they right away think of salsa, but when we do our shows we do stuff from different places like African, Peruvian, Cuban and Chilean music.”

In addition to a significant Latin community in Canada, Claveria, who also teaches guitar at a music school in Edmonton, says the release of the Bueno Vista Social Club album, released in 1997 by Cuban bandleader and musician Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder, opened up the Canadian market.

“Everybody that you talked to that was into live music or into checking out bands,” he says, “they all knew about Chile music and Latin music, and people became much more aware of it.”

As lead singer of a previous band, the trio Bomba!, Claveria has played to audience of 35,000 at the 2002 FIFA Women’s U-19 World Cup soccer event, and at the prestigious Montreal International Jazz Festival, one of the largest annual festivals in the world featuring 3,000 artists from 30 countries.

At the Jazz Festival, Claveria says the large Latin community in attendance were surprised when a band from Western Canada put on a quality performance.

“People thought, ´They have to sound country-ish,´” he says. “People were quite shocked when they saw the band and the quality of the music.”

To find out more about Essencias and the Marco Claveria Project visit the band’s website.