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Numero Group to release Alfonso Lovo’s Gigantona



The son of a prominent Nicaraguan politician, Alfonso Noel Lovo was a choice target for the Sandinista rebels who hijacked his homeward flight from Miami in December of 1971, ultimately putting several rounds through the talented musician’s torso and hand. After several years, and as many surgeries, he would break new ground on this psychedelic swirl of Latin jazz and pan-American funk with his musical partner, percussionist Jose “Chepito” Areas of Santana fame. Never commercially available, La Gigantona has lived its forty years lost in the grooves of a single acetate. Imagine a Nicaraguan take on Herbie Hancock’s Afro-jazz masterpiece Mwandishi with some of the most penetrating, left-field guitar you’ve never heard.


Born in 1951 in León, Nicaragua, Lovo’s talents were discovered at the age of five, when he played “O Holy Night” note for note on his brand new accordion. He matured on the bellowed instrument at Catholic school functions, and picked up guitar at age eight after watching the family gardener serenade a gaggle of females with Elvis songs. Some years later, a basketball game would pit his high school against that of Jose “Chepito” Areas, a drummer of growing repute in the Nicaraguan music scene. The nuns decided an impromptu concert would be great half-time entertainment, pairing Chepito and Lovo for the first time. Recognizing music as a passion, not a profession, Lovo left for Atlanta, Georgia to attend college in the late ’60s. Chepito had already fled to San Francisco, where he’d used his charisma, perspective, and timbale skills to transform a young Carlos Santana from blues guy to Latin rock icon. In 1973, while studying at Louisiana State University, Lovo traveled to nearby Loyola University to catch a Santana concert, and reintroduce himself to the group’s celebrated percussionist. The two would foster a famous friendship, together routing Santana and company through Nicaragua to play a concert benefiting victims of the devastating earthquake of the previous year. After graduating from college in 1975, Lovo headed back
to Nicaragua to work for his family’s businesses, which at the time included tractor dealerships, livestock, and real estate. One of the main things on his agenda would be to record an album with Nicaragua’s most accomplished players. He intended to make Chepito a part of that.

The Creation of La Gigantona

Named after a yearly procession honoring the Nicaraguan folk legend La Gigantona, Lovo’s record of the same name is anything but traditional. Experimental sessions were rendered over a month at Audio Ocho, a state of the art facility in downtown Managua. At the hand of engineer Roman Cerpas, La Gigantona was subjected to near-constant manipulation. Waves of tape loop crash over the album in quantities that would make Lee Perry blush. Most of the final tracks were the results of the relaxed jam sessions made possible by infinite studio time with skilled performers. Musicians were enlisted from across the country, originating in psychedelic rock bands, jazz combos, and even
the national orchestra, providing a rich and diverse cross section of Nicaragua’s mid-’70s music scene. Subjected to mounting political unrest, Managua proved an inhospitable place to oversee a private pressing of your psychedelic jazz masterpiece, and La Gigantona’s original intended release suffered accordingly.

Fortunately, in 2010, Lovo’s unique project washed upon the shores of the Numero Group, who immediately recognized the recording’s beauty and historical significance. Moving backwards from their modern-day meeting, Numero searched tirelessly for collaborators and bystanders, photos and ephemera relating to the furious fit of creativity Lovo committed to magnetic tape on the brink of a national coup. With extensive liner notes and never-before-seen photos, La Gigantona escapes the clutches of civil unrest, seeing the proper debut it deserves.

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