“Rumba catalana” is a genre developed by the Catalan gypsy community in Barcelona since the mid 50s. Its main feature is that flamenco rumba rhythms are mixed with rock & roll influences and Cuban music.
This style was born specifically in the Catalan communities in Gracia and Hostafrancs neighbourhood and Raval area. This genre is based on the fusion of Andalusian-Catalan songs in a light style with Afro-Cuban features. It has a 4/4 rhyme and “guaracha” and “son” patterns.
It is normally accompanied by voices, clapping, guitar, guiros and bongos, usually also with congas, drums, small percussion, wind instruments, piano, electric bass and electric keyboards. Currently, the artist Oscar Casañas includes hip-hop and tropical electric sounds in “rumba catalana”.
The three main artists of this genre are: Peret, Antonio González "El Pescaílla" and Josep Maria Valenti "El Chacho". They are followed by Las Grecas or Los Amaya, and later the trio “Rumba Tres”.
Gato Perez rediscovered “rumba catalana” in the 70s and started a new age with new musical creations, combining jazz and salsa.
In the 80s and 90s, Los Chichos and Los Chunguitos mixed rumba with marginal and suburban flamenco styles. Other artists had this style as a reference: Lolita Flores, Manzanita, Azúcar Moreno, Rosario Flores or Ketama. Los Manolos and Gipsy Kings can't be missed in this list, as they gave a boost to “rumba catalana” without changing it.
Late 90s, “rumba catalana” was influenced by various musical styles. Some groups maintain the traditional essence such as Sabor de Gracia or “Ai, ai, ai” while others: La Cabra Mecánica, Estopa, Melendi or Ojos de Brujo, choose to mix rumba with other styles such as swing, ska, and reggae, including Latin rhythms such as cumbia, and creating a new style: “rumba fusion”.
Relevant to this change was the Franco-Spanish artist Manu Chao, and his group Mano Negra, above all in Barcelona and Spanish culture. This sub-genre is often influenced by the New Flamenco (Kiko Veneno, Mátires del compás, Pata Negra). Some Catalan bands such as Muchachito Bombo Inferno, La Pegatina, Txarango, Bongo Botrako, La Troba Kung-fu, La Familia Rústika, Bonobos Music or la Banda de Panda, are important to be metioned.
Bands from Madrid that are important in this style are: Alpargata, Canteca de Macao and Antonio "el Turuta". Furthermore, we should highlight other more recent artists who have been influenced by the rumba, but more pop, such as Oscar Casañas or "El Chinchilla".