¡Spangled!—a collaboration between Guatemalan-born singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno and American musician, songwriter, arranger, and producer Van Dyke Parks—celebrates the migration of song across the Americas. The ten-song set spans more than a century, including a bolero from Panama, a bossa nova from Brazil, a song by Moreno, Trinidadian songwriter David Rudder's "The Immigrants," and an elegiac ballad from the Southwest US: Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, and Jim Dickinson’s “Across the Borderline,” performed with Cooder and Jackson Browne.
¡Spangled!—a collaboration between Guatemalan-born singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno and American musician, songwriter, arranger, and producer Van Dyke Parks—was released on Nonesuch Records on October 4, 2019 (on Metamorfosis in Latin America). The ten-song set celebrates the migration of song across the Americas and spans more than a century, including a bolero from Panama, a bossa nova from Brazil, and an elegiac ballad from the Southwest United States—Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, and Jim Dickinson's "Across the Borderline," performed with Cooder and Jackson Browne. The album also includes one of Moreno's own songs as well as the previously released track "The Immigrants" by Trinidadian songwriter David Rudder.
In choosing the album's songs, "we didn't want to focus just on Latin America," Moreno says. "We could use songs from the US as well. I look at it as one continent, the Americas. It was important for me to bring those two together—and it was also important, because of these difficult political times we are going through, to speak about immigration."
Moreno and Parks first performed together a decade ago at Largo in Los Angeles. Afterward, as Moreno recalls, "We had a really long conversation about how much we love this music and how amazing it would be to collaborate together." They then began sending music back and forth via email. "He'd send me songs from Latin America that even I hadn't heard, introducing me to a lot of music that I should have known. The next thing you know, we had ten songs."
When Parks was invited to present a concert at the Roskilde Festival on July 4, 2010, he asked to have an orchestra, and Moreno, join him. "I decided to do all songs that were Pan American. I wanted to present the world before the era of 'The Ugly American,'" he said. When they got back together recently to record this music, Parks brought in Cooder, guitarist Grant Geissman, percussionist Jim Keltner, and Browne; assembled string and wind sections; and also brought in the marimba player Matt Cook.
Gaby Moreno is a Guatemalan native who made Los Angeles her home almost two decades ago. She has established herself as a singer-songwriter with a repertoire incorporating blues, jazz, folk, and soul, performed in Spanish and English. She is a frequent guest on Chris Thile's Live from Here public radio show. Moreno was awarded a Best New Artist Latin Grammy in 2013 and garnered a nomination for Best Latin Pop Album at the 2017 Grammys for Illusion. She also is the co-composer of the theme for Parks and Recreation.
Van Dyke Parks is a storied composer, arranger, and producer who has worked with artists ranging from the Mothers Of Invention to the Beach Boys—as well as Phil Ochs, Harry Nilsson, Little Feat, Inara George, and Joanna Newsom. He studied at the American Boychoir School in Princeton and later at Carnegie Tech, where Aaron Copland was one of his instructors. Parks has been an actor, a record executive, and composer and arranger on many Hollywood films. But it was in the early 1960s, when he was performing with his brother Carson Parks at coffee houses in Southern California that he began to explore and perform Latin American music in earnest.
Produced by Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks
Recording Engineers: Doug Lacy, Craig Parker Adams, Martin Pradler (Ry Cooder’s slide guitar and Sebastian Aymanns’ percussion), Charly Segura (Celso Duarte’s harp, vihuela, and requinto), Fabio Pinczowsky (cuica)
Music prep: Alexander Tovar, Bobby Halvorson
Mixed by Al Schmitt at Capitol Studios
Additional mixing by Martin Pradler
Track 3, 7 mixed by Martin Pradler
Mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Studios
All instrument and vocal arrangements by Van Dyke Parks
Cover art and booklet sketch: Klaus Voormann
Design: Glen Nakasako at Smog Design, Inc.
Photographs by Sandra Singh
Available from Nonesuch Records outside of Latin America
Gaby Moreno, vocals
Jackson Brown, guest vocals (1)
Ry Cooder, guitar solo (1)
Grant Geissman, guitars, mandolins
Ira Ingber, guitars (6)
Anthony Wilson, guitar (9)
Celso Duarte, harp, vihuela, requinto
Jim Keltner, drums, percussion (1, 3, 6, 7)
Sebastian Aymanns, drums, percussion
Matt Cook, marimba, vibes
Felipe Roseno, cuica (7)
Van Dyke Parks, piano
Yvette Holzwarth, violins
Linnea Powell, violas
Aniela Perry, cello
Leland Sklar, electric bass
David Stone, upright bass
Marcus Buser, upright bass (9, 10)
Amy Shulman, harp