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El Tuyero Ilustrado is comprised of acclaimed cuatro player Edward Ramírez and singer and percussionist Rafa Pino. The Venezuelan group perform their version of joropo tuyero (a popular musical style resembling the fandango, traditional in the Venezuelan states of Carabobo, Miranda, and Aragua). Ramírez and Pino were brought together by their shared desire to make this rural and traditional style of music accessible to today’s urban audience.
This type of joropo arrived in Caracas years ago and became one of the main genres of traditional music in the capital, alongside the merengue caraqueño, the waltz, and the pasodoble. Joropo tuyero is traditionally performed by two musicians, one playing the folk harp and a singer who also plays maracas. Following this traditional practice, Pino sings and performs with maracas, while Ramírez translated the language of the harp to the cuatro (a small, 4-stringed guitar that is also Venezuela’s national instrument).
After years of research, they released their self-titled debut album in the fall of 2016, featuring nine original compositions by Pino and Ramírez as well as two traditional selections. Their efforts were rewarded with the Latin Grammy nomination for “Best Folk Album” in 2017, alongside Mexican singer and songwriter Natalia Lafourcade.
"Claro de Luna"
About the artists
Songwriter, singer, and percussionist Rafa Pino is considered one of the most promising voices of the new generation of Venezuelan singers. He was exposed to traditional Venezuelan music at a very young age through popular music workshops given by the Fundación Bigott. He continued his studies at the Ars Nova school in Caracas under the instruction of Maria Eugenia Atilano, with additional training from traditional music specialists Jesús Rondón, Magdalena León, and Ana Gabriela Rodríguez, among others. His diverse projects have ranged from rock, pop, and hip hop to reggae and salsa, working with such artists as Mcklopedia, Gerardo Rosales, Alfredo Naranjo, Los Colores, Lasca, and La Pagana Trinidad. His focus on traditional music has led him to collaborate with Vasallos de Venezuela, Aquiles Báez, C4 Trío, Los Cañoneros de Caracas, Afrocódigos, and the Orquesta Afrovenezolana del Conservatorio Simón Bolivar, among others. His recent solo project, Rafa Pino y el Macuare, is an exploration of Pino as equal parts interpreter and composer, in the pursuit of a current sound that fuses popular music with other traditions, transcending style and genre. His solo debut album, Catálogo de Materias Pendientes, is currently in post production. He has composed music for film, theater, and dance with such artists and performers as Miguel Issa, Belén Orsini, Oswaldo Maccio, Adriana Cols, and María Ruiz. He has been involved with Sincronciudad and Amnesty International’s Basta de Balas campaign, two public service projects that seek to improve society through art and culture as a tool, base, and ally.
Edward Ramírez is currently one of the most prolific and in-demand cuatro players. He has been featured on over 30 albums, as an accompanist and soloist. He has participated in Oronico and Venezuela Viva productions led by pianist César Orozco in the Netherlands, the US, Germany, Edinburgh, and London. In July 2012, he introduced Caracas audiences to a cuatro with metal strings that imitates the sound of the harp in the traditional joropo tuyero. The program, entirely devoted to joropo central, featured such special guests as guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, singer Mario Díaz, bassist Javier Marín, and maraca player Manuel Rangel. In September of that same year, he was selected by the U.S. based company, OneBeat, for an exchange program with more than 30 international musicians, of which he was the only native Spanish speaker. Among the numerous amenities and excursions included, were a two-week residency at the Atlantic Center of the Arts in Florida, and a two-week tour of the East Coast.
In 2013, Ramírez launched his debut solo album Parroquia with contrabassist Roberto Koch and percussionist Carlos “Nené” Quintero, which featured numerous compositions for cuatro by Ramírez himself. In 2014, he expanded his solo repertoire for the metal-stringed cuatro on his second solo album Cuatro, Maraca y Buche, which effectively launched his solo career. In 2015, he was invited by Los Amigos Invisibles for their international tour and was featured on the Simon Díaz tribute album with Rafael “El Pollo” Brito.