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Beny Esguerra | A New Tradition, Vol. 2: Return of the Kuisi

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A New Tradition, Vol. 2: Return of the Kuisi

by Beny Esguerra

afro-indigenous colombian music from a conscious inner city perspective via Jane-Finch, Tkaronto
Genre: World: Caribbean
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Post-Apocalyptic News Flash
1:13 $1.09
2. Record Begins
0:08 FREE
3. Stories Will Be Told
4:41 $1.09
4. Return of the Kuisi
1:32 $1.09
5. Bounce Right Back
5:06 $1.09
6. Mama
4:19 $1.09
7. Community Work
4:42 $1.09
8. La Vida
2:33 $1.09
9. Esguerra
4:25 $1.09
10. Let the Games Begin
3:41 $1.09
11. Condor and Eagle
3:46 $1.09
12. Vamos
2:28 $1.09
13. Record Ends
0:20 FREE
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Album Review
Beny Esguerra: A New Tradition Vol. 2 – Return of the Kuisi (Nominated for the 2018 JUNO AWARDS for World Music Album of the Year)
by Raul da Gama
Toronto Music Report - September 2017

It’s silly really not to acknowledge that some of the finest young artists of this generation – no matter where they come from – live right here in Canada. Ruben Beny Esguerra is certainly one of them. The Colombian-born “writer of rhymes” (as the lyricists of this generation like to be known), is an educator, musician, player of the “kuisi”, the Colombian edition of the Spanish “gaita” and – to my mind, most importantly – an activist who lives and works in the environs of the Jane and Finch area of Greater Toronto, a region inhabited by people as resilient as he is. This recording A New Tradition Vol. 2 – Return of the Kuisi featuring the second part of something he started in 2012 with his now-familiar “kuisi” consolidates his position as an activist/musician with an intelligent, informed but deep love for music and humanity. This love can be felt throughout this performance too; in the sometimes sumptuous but textured, almost orchestral sound (beautifully recorded), in attentive phrasing and in the power of the climaxes to the music that adorns this album.

Individual moments are superb and memorable. The ominous reading of the headlines in “Post-Apocalyptic New Flash”, the passionate pilgrimage on “Community Work” and the magnificently coherent, nobly expressive and beautifully-toned, an above all refreshingly expressive performance as Beny Esguerra points in the direction of his idols, in “Condor and Eagle” all serve to give notice that this is an artist of immense talent and a human being of deep conviction. Return of the Kuisi may be a short work, a little over half an hour in length. It is, however, an intense experience in which its pressure-cooker environment blasts open every once and a while not simply to let off steam but to also draw the listener in to its more tender side, as in “Mama”, for instance, as well as in “La Vida” and “Esguerra”.

But what is special is the care that Beny Esguerra and the brilliant and ubiquitous Luis Orbegoso (who produces and plays) bring to their roles as performers and keeps of the keys to this complex and enigmatic music. Each of them adds something of the rhythmic muscle and drive, respectively, to the music. Their crisp, sharply focused, viscerally exciting performances are at all times breathtakingly thrilling in a refreshingly un-egoistic kind of way. Together with the other performers – especially the large group of vocalists who support Beny Esguerra throughout, these musicians help sustain the energetic rhythm and momentum of this (also) highly-entertaining, highly recommendable collection of music.

Track List: 1: Post-Apocalyptic News Flash; Record Begins; 3: Stories Will Be Told; 4: Return of the Kuisi; 5: Bounce Right Back; 6: Mama; 7: Community Work; 8: La Vida; 9: Esguerra; 10: Let The Games Begin; 11: Condor And Eagle; 12: Vamos; 13: Record Ends.

Personnel: Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra: writer, lead vocals, percussion, violin, sequence, kuisi bunsi and kuisi sigui; Luis Orbegoso: producer, arranger, backing vocals, percussion, trombones, sequence; Juan ‘Siez Swift’ Esguerra: turntables; Jorge Cantor: percussion; Adam Solomon: electric guitar; Josh Cohen: electric bass; Ernesto Espinosa: violins; Special Guests: Rosary Spence: vocals; Leang Manjarres Wong: kuisi bunsi; Mikeila Esguerra-Carranza, Alexa Esguerra-Carranza, Aaliyah Esguerra-Carranza, Steven Rafael Gomez Salguero, Martin Orlando, Nathan Baya, Natalie Scantlebury, The Real Sun, Luz Sandoval, Millie Carranza, Cecily Jacko, Ivy Cuervo, Wandiay Amaru (vocals in Kichwa), Lena Recollect (vocals in Anishinaabemowin) and Fabian Esguerra: background vocals.

Released: 2017
Label: Independent
Runtime: 39:12

"Beny Esguerra & A New Tradition captures ancient wisdom through the powerful & accessible vehicle of urban music culture. At a time where so many lineages struggle to preserve the wisdom of their teachings, A New Tradition has found a way to fuse the virtues of elder Colombian lineage with fresh beats, intelligent lyrics, and a driving dance grooves. Perhaps most importantly, A New Tradition upholds a sense of class, professionalism, and charisma both on and off the stage... solidifying themselves as not only entertainers, but true educators of world music & culture.""
- Ehren Cruz, Performing Arts Director | LEAF Festival

"The tracks in Beny's latest album take conscious Toronto Hip Hop music into a new direction by combining elements of world music, live instruments, and Spanglish lyrics all with deep roots in the Jane-Finch community"
- DJ DTS, Masterplan Show (CIUT 89.5fm)

"After seeing Beny and New Tradition at Mundial Montreal, I came to realize that his style sums up what world music is for me: wicked performance with influences from around the world and yet deeply rooted in tradition. A cutting edge style bringing out the consciousness of youth in a purely natural way that is infectious and feels close to home"
- Alex Bordokas, Founder and Artistic Director of Uma Nota, Artistic Associate of Harboourfront Centre

"Ruben “Beny” Esguerra is leading the wave of young Canadians developing brand new musical traditions, blending their cultural roots with their own unique presence. The result is a sound that is captivating, inclusive and vibrant."
- Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts, Royal Conservatory of Music/Koerner Hall

"New Tradition was responsible for the highest-energy showcase of Mundial Montreal. The band was furiously polyrhythmic and super tight. You’ve got to experience Beny’s gaita (flute) riding overtop of Planet Rock beats to believe it. This band won't fail to make you dance your ass off while immersing you in the richness of Afro-Colombian heritage"
- David Dacks, Exclaim Magazine/Artistic Director, The Music Gallery

"Beny Esguerra brought the house down with a wild performance bringing together breakdancers, cumbia drums, and a strong message that resonates with youth. Amazing"
- Eli Levinson Marketing and Communications, Mundial Montreal

"With Toronto's hardest working Latin music producer and performer, Luisito Orbegoso, on board, Esguerra's debut CD features Diego Marulanda, Zimbwawean guitarist Tich Maredza, turntable hero DJ Grouch and rapper Motion, among others. Diasporic and generational experiences make the call and in response are the weaving of Colombia's indigenous flute, the gaita, Afro-Cuban and Colombian percussion, Orbegoso's improv and Esguerra's spoken word"
- Sumita Bidaye, Exclaim

"Definitivamente el lanzamiento de "A New Tradition" obtuvó un fantástico recibimiento, después de largos años de trabajo por parte de Rubén 'Beny' Esguerra, quien está iniciando una nueva etapa con el pie derecho"
- Cesia Chavarria Almaraz, El Popular

“A New Tradition” is just as the title states, it’s the beginning of a new wave of Latino talent in Canada. All artists and performers, young Latinos who are creating new roots in Canada and developing new traditions to express their generation.
- Sergio Elmir - Dos Mundos Radio

"Este tipo de evento, con ese nivel de calidad y con la suma de tantos talentos, definitivamente le abrirá aún más las puertas no sólo a Beny sino a nuestros valores latinos en Canadá"
- Victor Aguilar, Correo Canadiense

"I love my city. There is always so much good music on the go. Here are some previews of Ruben's new album coming this summer"
- Billy Bryans, Feb. 02/12 http://mrbryans.com/

Short Bio

Born in Colombia - JUNO Awards Nominee - Ruben 'Beny' Esguerra is a multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and arts educator who has composed original scores for the CBC, City Life Film, Amnesty International and the National Film Board of Canada; presented his pieces in festivals held in Canada, US, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and is currently the music director of several program based in Jane-Finch Toronto. Ruben is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology specializing in traditional and urban music.

Longer Bio

Born in Colombia - JUNO Awards Nominee - Ruben 'Beny' Esguerra is a multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and arts educator.

As a musician Ruben leads the New Tradition big band originally created to accompany international artists with some of the most sought after musicians in Toronto, Canada. As a composer he has written original scores for the CBC, City Life Film, Amnesty International and the National Film Board of Canada.

As a lyricist and spoken word artist he has presented his pieces in festivals held in Canada; US; Cuba; Venezuela; Colombia and Chile. Highlights include being commissioned by the Remix Project and the Department of Canadian Heritage to create and perform a spoken word piece welcoming Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean to deliver the opening speech introducing the 'Ignite the Americas' conference.

As an arts educator Ruben has worked at York University and Ryerson University teaching, lecturing and designing curricula since the age of 22. Ruben currently facilitates workshops through the Ontario Arts Council's Artist in Education Program bringing drumming and storytelling as a healthy form of self expression to inner city schools as well as schools in rural areas across Ontario. He is currently the Music Director of several program based in Jane-Finch, Toronto. Ruben is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology specializing in traditional and urban music.

In-depth Bio

Mixing a new tradition

For musician, poet, educator, activist and JUNO Awards Nominee Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra, the arts are a vehicle of transformation. “The difference in the world begins with yourself,” Esguerra says. “If you can find your purpose through art, if you can empower yourself, you will soon empower others as well.”

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Esguerra is very familiar with the liberating power of art. He and his younger brother came to Canada as political refugees with their parents, who were teaching artists and had begun receiving threats for their human rights activism. “It was totally life-changing,” Esguerra says. “Since we had to go in secret, my brother and I weren’t told why we were leaving, or that we weren’t coming back. That was one of the hardest things–we didn’t get to say goodbye to our friends.”

Upon arrival in Canada, Esguerra found himself faced with a whole new set of challenges” learning English, fitting-in at school, watching his parents struggle on welfare and working temporary jobs, and facing many forms of discrimination on a daily basis. “It made me grow up fast. I had a lot to take-in at the age of nine. But all of this led me to become politicized at a young age. I tried to turn a negative reality into a positive one.”

Influenced by his artist parents, Esguerra began playing violin and percussion at a young age, going on to attend an arts high school and study music at York University. At the age of 17, he began playing professionally with various bands in the Toronto Latin music scene, and after working as a percussionist with several well-known poets, he started creating his own spoken word pieces. This led him to participate in a CBC poetry festival and performing an original piece for the Governor General Michaëlle Jean at the 2008 Ignite the Americas conference. In addition to making music, Esguerra has worked as an educator while pursuing graduate studies in ethnomusicology at York University. Having taught workshops at York and in Toronto public schools for about 10 years, Esguerra now devotes a substantial amount of his time to working with immigrant youth in Toronto’s Jane/Finch community where he directs programs that provide community youth with musical training; they culminate in the creation and dissemination of their own musical products and projects. “Unfortunately, many of the youth find the educational system hard to relate to, and street life is an all-too-easy alternative. Through music and poetry we get them to express their ideas and learn from other writers whom they can relate to.”

In 2012, Esguerra’s many years of hard work culminated in his first album, A New Tradition, which combines spoken word and hip hop with Latin rhythms and melodies. Supported by funding from the Ontario Arts Council, Esguerra made the album independently with help from colleagues and friends, and he did all of his own marketing. “I wanted to experiment and create something for which there was no market–something original that reflected who I am and my many influences. The tracks are percussion-based with trombones as a staple; I wanted to include the kuisi a.k.a gaita (a 2,000-year-old South American instrument) along with more contemporary instruments like the turntables. I chose the styles to create something new, but still rooted in tradition, something original that builds bridges across different styles and different instruments.”

The concept of a new tradition is also reflected in the content of Esguerra’s spoken word pieces, each one focusing on a different social injustice and calling upon his listeners to raise their voices and address it. Themes include global and economic inequality, the violence exerted by some multinational corporations, police brutality and unity within cultural diversity. Currently, between running programs, visiting a variety of classrooms across Ontario facilitating workshops, and raising a young family, Beny has also composed and recorded his latest opus: A New Tradition VOL. 2 – Return of the KUISi which was just released in Sept 2016 and Nominated for the 2018 JUNO Awards. “The idea of creating a ‘new tradition’ is my basic life philosophy,” Esguerra says. “It’s important to know your self, your history and ancestral past… but it’s also important to recreate and reinvent yourself with regard to identity. It is impossible to know everything about our past, as much as we’d like to. The beautiful thing about not knowing is that it offers us the opportunity to create something new”.

Beny Esguerra and New Tradition

Is an interactive performance project that explores the concepts of tradition and modernity through the production of a multidisciplinary performance featuring spoken word, music, songs, dance and design. While creating bridges across musical genres, the original compositions incorporate ancient instruments such as the 2000 plus year old indigenous kuisi bunsi flute (a.k.a. Colombian gaita) with more recent instruments such as the turntables. With the use of a human beatboxer and a DJ as essential elements of the bands sonic identity the ensemble can maintain its original sound while performing with as many as thirteen musicians all the way down to three, making the show adaptable to various performance contexts.

Ancestral musical styles + urban cultural expressions = New Tradition

Selected Performances:

2017 Ashville, Pisgah and Black Mountain, North Carolina; Invited to perform and conduct workshops at the Lake Eden Arts Festival, partner schools and community centres. October.

2017 Montreal, Quebec; Commissioned by the United Food and Commercial Workers to create a 20 minute piece to open at the UFCWs National Convention and before inviting surprise keynote speaker Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau onto the stage at the Sheraton Centre. August.

2017 Moncton, New Brunswick; Invited to perform and conduct workshops at the Mosaiq Multicultural festival. July.

2017 Harrison Hot Springs and Vancouver, BC; Invited to perform and conduct workshops with New Tradition at the Harrison Festival of the Arts and Carnaval de Sol festival. July.

2017 Toronto, Ontario; Invited to perform with a cast of 20 performers to open the Our Home on Native Land festival at the Harbourfront Centre, Main Stage. June.

2017 Brooklyn, New York; invited to open for Hip Hop cultures premiere photographer Ernie Paniccioli at his 70th birthday celebration sharing the stage with Melle Mel, EPMD, Soul Rebels, Bri Briskool, Jay Robi and others at the Littlefield stage. March.

2016 Montreal, Quebec; invited to showcase at the Mundial Montreal 2016 conference designed to showcase international World Music artists at the Divan Orange. November.

2016 New York, New York; invited to headline the Eagle/Condor/Swap/Program at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Centre of New York, CUNY as an artist and scholar. October.

2016 Ottawa, Ontario; Commissioned by the One Young World conference to create a piece for the event’s closing ceremonies sharing the stage with Emmanuel Jal. October.

2016 Toronto, Ontario; Rock Against the TPP tour sharing the stage with international acts such as: Rebel Diaz, Taina Asili, Anti Flag and others at the Operah House. September.

2016 Toronto, Ontario; Sophomore Album Release of 'A New Tradition VOL. 2 – Return of the KUISi' along with over 16 local and international artists at Lula Lounge. September.

2016 Ottawa, Ontario; House of Paint Festival 2016; Mainstage at Brewer Park. Ruben 'Beny' esguerra and New Tradition. August.

2016 Toronto, Ontario; Afro Fest 2016; Mainstage at Woodbine Park. Ruben 'Beny' esguerra and New Tradition. July

Scholarships, Grants, Nominations, Awards:

2018 JUNO Awards Nomination for World Music Album of the Year

2017 Canada Council of the Arts: Circulation and Touring Grant

2007-Present Ontario Arts Council: Artists in Education Grant

2014 Canadian Association of Labour Media: Cliff Scotton Prize for Best piece reflecting the history, traditions and, culture of the labour movement for ‘100 years of Solidarity CD’ UFCW compilation.

2014 International Labor Communications Association: ‘Best Long Audio Program’ for the ‘100 Years of Solidarity CD’ UFCW compilation.

2013-2014 Ontario Arts Council: Popular Music Creation Grant

2013 Outstanding Latin Americans Award: Dos mundos Arts and Media.

2009-2010 Cupe 3903 Major Teaching Development Grant (MTDG) to create and design a new and innovative performance oriented music course on Colombian music at York University.

2010 Ontario Arts Council: Word of Mouth Grant

2010 Ontario Arts Council: Popular Music Grant



A New Tradition VOL 2. - Beny Esguerra
Return of The KUISi


A New Tradition - Beny Esguerra
Spoken Word with Latin Music Reinvented


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