All the way from Columbia, to Boston, and finally settling within New York City, 25-year-old musician Bogota-native Gregorio Uribe has always had his instrument of choice right at his side, his trusted accordion. “Just like every other musician, at first, I wanted to be a rock star: to have an electric guitar and a drum set,” instead, Uribe ended-up with the accordion.
Residing in Astoria, Queens, Uribe leads a sixteen-member orchestra band named, The Gregorio Uribe Band whose sounds conjures the African-influenced rhythms that pulsate throughout the Colombian coast. In its third active year as a band, the orchestra is preparing to kick off its first-Thursday-of-the-month residency at Zinc Bar located in the West Village at 82 W. Third St.
Before taking part in the orchestra, Uribe retells how as an adolescent he discovered the traditional sounds of his native country, Colombia, which involves garabato, pulla, and fandango. He was also especially influenced by Carlos Vives, a fellow countryman, and his breakout success with vallenato. And at 9-years-old, when he and his family moved to Australia for two years, on account of his father’s work sending them, Uribe assimilated with the accordion due to the distance and “between the nostalgia and the albums that my friends would send me, I started to write songs for the accordion.”
After his to Colombia, and after finishing high-school Uribe and two of his friends embark on a six-month backpacking music trip through South America from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego and to Peru. The backpacking music adventure put Uribe on his path to becoming a musician because of his experience playing, “in bars, streets, pumpkin fields…that trip had a huge influence on my music.”
Traveling to the States, Uribe moved to Boston and studied at the Berklee College of Music where the vision for his big band had formed. Being away from home, Uribe describes how “studying drumming and composition…made me interested in big bands,” and enabled him to “appreciate its musical legacy even more,” due to his separate from Colombia. When moving to New York City in 2008, Uribe and some of his friends relocated to the Big Apple where he describes the formation of The Gregorio Uribe Band as being an, “organic thing, we already knew each other were friends.”
Their first single and video that was released last year, Caribe Contigo, displays the big band’s style which showcases a standard pop song that is intermingled with Latin Jazz. With the Colombian tambora’s percussions combined in unison with African drumming and the horns blazing the melody of Jazz, the hybridity of musical elements are brought together by the accordion solos performed by Uribe himself. When money is collected through performance and donations, the band plans on releasing more tracks but for now you can catch The Gregorio Uribe Band jamming away along with Uribe’s accordion at Zinc Bar every first Thursday night in March & April.