Julio “Chocolate” Algendones (1934 – 2004) was an outstanding percussionist, composer and interpreter of Afro-Peruvian Folk Music and a Jazz musician. He was considered the great and internationally recognized master of Cajón.
Chocolate is the most faithful representative of the cajon and this tradition of ritual drumming which, as very few people in Peru have maintained and kept alive in its purest form. He was one of the original founders of the group Peru Negro that was the first troupe of Afro-Peruvian singers, dancers and musicians, to exhibit their tradition outside of Peru. It was composed of a talented group of young black dancers and musicians who came together in an effort to preserve and refine their heritage. Chocolate has also performed around the world with another folkloric dance group called Makalache, he was the drummer of the touring group of the renowned Peruvian diva of singing and song writing, Chabuca Granda. He is also a member of a new group by the name of Peru Jazz, which attempts to marry Afro-Peruvian and indigenous music in a contemporary jazz idiom.
Chocolate was born Julio Algendones in 1934 in Peru. He grew up in a community of poor Black farm workers and was carried by his mother as she picked cotton. When he was older and had begun to develop his considerable musical talents, he earned enough money to survive by performing in bars and clubs in Lima. Though surrounded by a colorful and violent life in the streets of Lima’s barrios, Chocolate took hold of his music and his deeply religious path of Makumba and Santaria. He began to find a power in his soul that took form in his music. This reality of Chocolate’s past is what produces the real depth of his sound. Julio “Chocolate” Algendones died in July 2004.
Afro-Peruvian music has its roots in Africa. However, the Africans who arrived in Latin America did so at different periods of time and are from diverse ethnic groups. They created a new identity together with the locals, which reflected a cultural mixture that gave birth to a new esthetic heritage. Peru had one of the largest black populations on the America continent. This created a cultural exchange such as mestizaje, in both the country and the city.
Chocolate’s music is a magnificent example of the combination of forms that can exist between the traditional and the contemporary, like jazz. His work represents the richness of this mixture. He was an exceptional musician, who delivered his art for more than half a century.
Documentary film about Chocolate Hands of God, directed by Delia Ackerman, was released in 2004.
Chocolate - Peru’s Master Percussionist CD, produced by J. Blue Sheppard, was released in 1991 by Lyrichord. Chocolate begins this masterwork of percussion with sophistication and simplicity. This piece is called “Uno Nino en Tiempo.” Then “Conga Forte, Rico Cajon” begins to demonstrate the magnitude of Chocolate’s rhythmic abilities. Perhaps for the more sophisticated drum audience, this piece is on of the most wonderful journeys of timing and humor in percussion ever recorded. The cajon has become a trademark of Chocolate’s music. The congas are interlaced here with the rich cajon sound in an elaborate rhythmic odyssey. “Ani-Ani Manola” reflects chocolate’s African ancestry and his deep instinct for ceremony and celebration. His many followers in Peru gather in a powerful musical ritual, which weaves Chocolate’s magic into a unique tapestry of sound that is characteristic of the Afro-Peruvian genre. To complete this portion, “Uno Tych” is a dramatic and pyrotechnic finale in which Chocolate is assisted by members of his revolutionary musical group, “Peru Jazz.”Tracklist: