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musicians_performingSegunda Quimbamba is a percussion and dance ensemble from Jersey City, New Jersey that plays authentic Bomba & Plena—the drum music of Puerto Rico. Bomba and plena are two distinct rhythms that reflect Puerto Rico's African heritage. Bomba has over 300 years of history and in parts of the island, like Mayagüez it became the response in the black communities of Puerto Rico to the formal Euro-centric dances of the 19th century. It is played on barrel-shaped drums called "bombas" along with a maraca and sticks called "cuas." Dancers engage in a dynamic challenge with the lead drummer of the ensemble. Plena originated in the early 20th century and its songs reflect the everyday life of the working class of its coastal towns. It is played with hand-held frame drums called "panderos," a güiro, cowbells, and at times, congas. Plena, often danced in pairs, is found in every protest, strike, and demonstration in Puerto Rican communities both on the island and in the U.S.

musicians_performingSegunda Quimbamba was founded by its director, Juan Cartagena and his wife, Nanette Hernández as "Los Pleneros de la Segunda" (the Pleneros from Second Street) in 1989 during the Christmas season to preserve another Puerto Rican tradition called "parrandas." Over the years family members joined the group, which in 1995 began playing bomba. In 1997, the name was changed to Segunda Quimbamba in honor of both Second Street, Jersey City where most of the members live or have lived and "Quimbamba," the mystical place described in a famous poem by Luis Pales Matos of Puerto Rico called "Majestad Negra."

 

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