C4 Trio has taken the Venezuelan cuatro to new heights : NPR

The associates of C4 Trio, L-R: Rodner Padilla, Edward Ramírez, Héctor Molina and Jorge Glem

José Blanco /Courtesy of GroundUP Audio

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José Blanco /Courtesy of GroundUP Tunes

The members of C4 Trio, L-R: Rodner Padilla, Edward Ramírez, Héctor Molina and Jorge Glem

José Blanco /Courtesy of GroundUP Audio

The Venezuelan team C4 Trio has taken the nationwide instrument of their homeland, the four-string cuatro, to new heights. They’ve recorded seven albums, collaborated with singer Rubén Blades and, in 2019, received two Latin Grammys for their album with salsa singer Luis Enrique, Tiempo al Tiempo.

The title of a new book about C4, published by Venezuelan journalist Gerardo Guarache Ocque, sums up the essence of the singular group: La Leyenda de los Cuatros Explosivos. The group — composed of cuatro gamers Edward Ramírez, Héctor Molina and Jorge Glem, as well as bass player Rodner Padilla — is a legend, and their audio is an explosion of appears.

Edward Ramírez says what brought them together was a strong motivation to perform tunes that was not from Venezuela, on the Cuatro. “But we also desired to obstacle ourselves and engage in Venezuelan new music from a various point of check out, and enjoy other new music genres with the Cuatro” Ramírez states. “We wished to uncover new ways for the cuatro to develop its palette, so that the alternatives of the instrument would proceed to mature.”

In 2005, Ramírez, Glem and Molina were every invited to engage in solo pieces at a concert in Caracas. Every musician is from a distinct region of Venezuela, and they admired every other’s type. After rehearsing a several tunes alongside one another to enjoy at the finish of the live performance, they favored the seem of the several cuatros so significantly that they made the decision to variety a team. The subsequent 12 months, they recorded their to start with album and adopted C4 as their title, in reference both of those to the cuatro and the guitar group acknowledged as G3. Their self-titled album introduced their occupation. Bass player Rodner Padilla joined them in 2009.

The cuatro is a smaller, guitar-like instrument, with four nylon strings. It really is played throughout the state, in lots of diverse kinds of songs. Every single Venezuelan household has a cuatro hanging on the wall, states Héctor Molina. “It can be undergone a massive advancement in latest yrs,” he says. “We often say that we’re a consequence of the get the job done that is been carried out for the instrument by masters this sort of as Jacinto Pérez, Hernán Gamboa, Fredy Reyna and Cheo Hurtado. They are big figures of the Cuatro and musicians who have aided to increase the sonic choices of the instrument.”

Ramírez, Molina, Padilla and Glem are now dependent in Miami, because of to the political and financial weather in Venezuela. “It is really a pretty hard predicament and we hope that this nightmare finishes soon so we can go again and do concert events in Venezuela,” Glem claims.

José Blanco/Courtesy of GroundUP Tunes

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José Blanco/Courtesy of GroundUP Music

Musician and producer Michael League invited C4 to play at the GroundUp Music Festival in Miami Seaside a couple of several years in the past. The festival is operate by League’s GroundUp Audio, the group’s new label. “C4 is like the team that our pageant was manufactured for,” states League. “It really is a group that perhaps a good deal of folks you should not know about, outside of their type of area of interest, in the tunes environment. But it is unachievable to see them enjoy and not try to remember them for the rest of your life.”

League co-developed C4’s forthcoming new album, Back to 4. He says the group has a person foot in tradition, one particular foot in innovation, and the need to blend and continually include hues to their palette. “These fellas can make their instrument audio like a conga or a flute. They’re not sure by the custom. And I am not an qualified in that tradition, but just from five minutes of talking with them, you can tell that their heads are as a lot in the long term as they are in the previous.”

As the social, political and economic predicament received a lot more complex in Venezuela, the customers of C4 realized they experienced to shift somewhere else to keep the team alive.

In 2014, C4’s bass participant, Rodner Padilla, migrated to Miami. Glem went to New York in 2016, and Molina arrived in Miami the following calendar year. Ramírez initial migrated to Colombia in 2017, and then moved to Miami last year.

Now, the team is collectively once again, primarily based in Miami, home to the major Venezuelan immigrant neighborhood in the U.S. Glem states even with the ongoing challenges in Venezuela, they stay constructive and hopeful. “Anywhere we go, we consider to place on the most gorgeous encounter of our place and we do no matter what we can to assist our individuals back household,” he claims. “It really is a incredibly difficult circumstance and we hope that this nightmare finishes shortly so we can go back and do concerts in Venezuela.” Glem suggests the cuatro is their flag and they just want to enjoy music, in their own, from time to time explosive, way.


A documentary on the team, 10 many years