Premiere: With Upbeat Afro-Dominican Rhythms, Yasser Tejeda y Palotre’s New Single Celebrates Their Roots

Lead Photo: Photo by Deneka Peniston

On October 11, DR combo Yasser Tejeda y Palotré will unleash upcoming album, Kijombo, a journey across the Dominican Republic and its many different traditional music expressions through the lens of rock and jazz. Featuring guest spots from Vicente García, Mario Castro, Linda Briceño and legendary merengue accordionist El Prodigio, the album is both a celebration and an invitation to reflect on what it means to be Dominican, with a special emphasis on the band’s own African roots.

Said invitation materializes on the album’s first single, “Nuestras Raíces,” and its music video, exclusively premiered here at Remezcla. The song captures the spirit of the folkloric celebration known as palo, and extensively features its typical percussion. These fast-paced Afro-Dominican rhythms meet with a mesmerizing horn section, guitar work that balances between West African-like arpeggios and distorted rock power chords, and an infectious chorus to sing along to.

Tejeda himself also directed the “Nuestras Raíces” video, recorded between New York and the Dominican town of Mata de los Indios, translating the spirit of the palos parties into images. It’s a stunning celebration of Black bodies across generations and their roots, honoring these communities that have been marginalized all throughout history.

“The locals were surprised when they heard this fusion that’s very different, and they instantly felt a connection and started dancing and singing along to the song’s chorus,” Tejeda reminisces. “I loved [shooting the “Nuestras Raíces” video] because if felt natural and unpretentious, and that’s what I want to show in this video: the everyday nature of this community and its spontaneity.”

Tejeda has been investigating and learning about African-rooted Dominican music since 2005 when he started playing with the likes of Xiomara Fortuna, Luis Díaz and Tony Vicioso, taking him on an identity exploration that has lead him to Kijombo. “[The album] is joy, electricity, and a bit of rage to incite an ‘awakening,’ so new generations feel inspired to explore their roots,” Tejeda explains. “On Kijombo, I want to break the barrier and give merengue fresh and unique arrangements, and give folklore and Dominican fusion a new spin.”

Kijombo drops on October 11. Catch Yasser Tejeda y Palotré live on August 29 at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall. Get your tickets here.