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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Eva Ayllon is sometimes called Peru's Tina Turner. The singer's 30-year career has taken her in many musical directions, but she's best known for her renditions of Afro-Peruvian music. That's a style that emerged in 1950s Lima, along with the notion of black pride. Ayllon has just released her first album in five years, "Kimba Fa."

Banning Eyre has this review.

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BANNING EYRE: Afro-Peruvian music has complex sensual rhythms. Its instrumentation is spare, originally just nylon string guitar, bass and a wooden box called cajon. When it started getting outside attention in the mid-'90s, it felt new. The music's lean architecture and introspective mood differentiated it from the likes of salsa and meringue. But to experience the full-on gravitas of Afro Peru, you need to hear the husky voice of Eva Ayllon.

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Ms. EVA AYLLON (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: Enslaved Africans had to make two long passages to reach Peru, first across the Atlantic and then over the landmass of South America. The people of the so-called Black Pacific were so far removed from their African origins that the creators of Afro-Peruvian music couldn't rely much on cultural memory.

So they created instruments, rhythms and a compelling musical aesthetic that relied much on imagination. The pride of Afro-Peruvian music is the lando, an elegant dance with intertwined rhythms and a seductive undertow. Eva Ayllon mastered the form early on and soon became known as the queen of the lando.

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Unidentified People: (Singing in foreign language)

Ms. AYLLON: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: On her CD, "Kimba Fa," which means joyous energy, Ayllon takes all sorts of liberties with Afro-Peruvian music, adding in piano and sometimes a brass section, as well as jazz harmony and ideas from other Afro-Latin styles. Ayllon is big enough to get away with just about anything. She even indulges her affection for the folksy Creole music that was the dominant sound in Lima a century ago. Here she is interpreting a Creole waltz.

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Ms. AYLLON: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: The 17 tracks on "Kimba Fa" span the musical styles Ayllon has performed over a 30-year career. She experiments here and there, including on a pop track with Andean flute samples, blaring keyboards and Ayllon rapping. Fun, but not her best work.

When you hear this Lima native tearing into a salsa vocal, on the other hand, it's clear that she's far more than just a Peruvian treasure. Eva Ayllon is one of the great figures of today's Latin music.

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Ms. AYLLON: (Singing in foreign language)

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. He reviewed "Kimba Fa" by Eva Ayllon.

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Ms. AYLLON: (Singing in foreign language)

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