Jim ParisiMusic Review

Farewell to a Legacy

By Jim Parisi

Fidel Gamboa When he passed away unexpectedly on August 29, Fidel Gamboa shocked music fans all over the world and left a void that can never really be mended. The founder, songwriter, guitarist and lead singer of the highly popular Costa Rican band Malpais was honored on November 18 at the National Stadium in west San Jose with a concert by the remaining members of his band and guest musicians such as Bernardo Quesada, Adrian Goizueta, Humberto Vargas, Max Goldenberg, Walter Flores, Cantoamerica, Peregrino Gris, the Nicaraguan rock band Perrozompopo, and the Costa Rica Philharmonic Orchestra throughout the night, including an incredible version of “Historia de Nadie” with Maria Pretiz. The real surprise was the appearance of Ruben Blades, a three-time Grammy Award winning Panamanian musician who was loudly received by the sold-out audience in the stadium. The show continued well past the scheduled two and a half hours, with Fidel’s guitar standing upright in its stand onstage, alone, all night.

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     Jaime Gamboa, Fidel’s brother and cofounder of Malpais, stressed the point that the concert was to thank all the band’s supporters throughout the years as well as to pay homage to his brother. “After November, we will continue to be a group of friends from a common past,” he noted, “with a future that has yet to be written”. His rendition of his brother’s composition “Comoun Pajaro” was one of the highlights of the night. Ivan Rodriguez, the band’s multitalented violinist/guitarist/mandolin player handled the vocals on “Es Tan Tarde Ya” and Adrian Goizueta also delivered a wonderful presentation of “Presagio” from the band’s second album. In addition, Bernardo Quesada appeared for the band’s namesake song, “Malpais” from their first album, “Uno”, while Humberto Vargas lent his skills for “Muchacha y Luna” and Pato Barraza sat in on “Otro Lugar”, another song from “Uno”. Arnoldo Castillo contributed to “Contramarea”  and the band did a stirring rendition of “Despertate Guila”, the final song from their last CD, “Hay Ninos Aqui”. Of course, it was a very emotional night for performers and audience alike, who sang along with each and every song. One of the stunning factors for me became the volume of work created by this man in such a short amount of time and the influence he has had on fellow musicians and fans alike.

     The band also took the opportunity to unveil its final album, at least under this incarnation, titled “Siempre” at the show, performing most of the tracks at the concert. They were able to do this because Fidel had recorded the vocal tacks for the songs in the studio and the band was able to complete the instrumental parts for his songs posthumously. A review of this CD will appear in next month’s edition of Quepolandia. I do believe we will see new versions of this band in the future: they had such a strong and positive impact on the Costa Rican music scene and the tight-knit musical relationship between all the members will, I think, make it inevitable for them to continue in some formation. I also believe that whatever the name or formation, this family of friends and musicians will always be under the watchful eye and influence of Fidel Gamboa.