The Latin Recording Academy nominated the FAU produced album “Pá Qué Más” for a 2018 Latin Grammy Award in the Best Folk Album category. Two faculty members recorded the album at the university and released it through its Hoot/Wisdom Recordings.
Associate Professor Alejandro-Sánchez Samper produced and engineered Colombian ensemble Quinteto Leopoldo Federico’s album along with Assistant Professor Matt Baltrucki. Samper collaborated with the group on their debut album, “Bogotá – Buenos Aires,” which received a Latin Grammy nomination in 2015 in the Best Tango Category. Here Samper shares his story on the album that's attracting national acclaim.
Q. Besides the Grammy nominations, tell us the highlight of your career.
A. Probably the day I began working at FAU. I really never envisioned being a college professor until I started at FAU. I had always seen myself as a musician/recording engineer. Little did I know that in academia I would be able to pursue my dream while helping others reach theirs.
Q. What was your first impression when Giovanni Parra, the director of the Quinteto Leopoldo Federico, approached you with the concept for this album?
A. In many ways, this is a continuation of the work we started with "Bogotá – Buenos Aires," a tango album that includes three tracks of Colombian Andean music. … Colombian Andean music has never been done with the instrumentation of tango. So, when we set out to do this new album, we both agreed that there would be no tango. We commissioned original arrangements from some of the best musicians in the Colombian Andean music genre.
Q. What was your inspiration for this album?
A. My love for my country of origin, Colombia. I left Colombia in 2000 at a time of great political, social and economic unrest. Many things have changed in Colombia, for the better. … On the cultural level, there are more people performing, studying and disseminating Colombian regional music. The Quinteto Leopoldo Federico is one of many groups performing and promoting regional music. This Latin Grammy nomination is a testament that what we are doing is reaching outside of Colombia’s borders.
Q. Tell us about your favorite track.
A. The first track, “La Cucharita,” is an arrangement I did of a very popular Andean folk tune from the 1980’s. Since I was radically transforming the tune, I had to seek permission from the composer, Jorge Velosa. When I reached out to him, … he seemed reserved about it. He asked that I send him a recording, and only after he heard the recording, would he grant permission. It was a big risk for me to go through all the work of writing the arrangement and have the musicians learn it for recording only to have it rejected by the original composer. When he heard it, he gave us permission to go through with it. The bet paid off. The track remained in the top 20 of la Radio Nacional (the Colombian equivalent of NPR) for 14 weeks, peaking at number two.
Q. What was the most important contribution(s) of the four commercial music students who worked on this project?
A. The students helped edit tracks. Editing is an art requiring good taste, good judgment and skill. It’s also very time-consuming. Instructor Rob Rimmington and Assistant Professor Matt Baltrucki helped engineer the album and are credited as mastering engineers.
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