[Hidden Rarities #43] Aquila

The Chilenian Jazz Prog\Folk Prog band Aquila was founded in 1973 in Santiago and disbanded in 1974.

From the hand of young compositor and vibraphonic Guillermo Rifo, the band Aquila arrived to be recognized in history as first substantive project on the mix of Jazz Rock and with Popular Music. Aquila found they’re protagonism in a varient of style and points of view creative of style that not only survived in Chilen music but that convert in one of the rames stronger that 30 years: the Fusion.

Since 1965, a 19-year-old Guillermo Rifo had been playing in the percussion section of the Chilean Symphonyc Orchestra. In 1969 he had founded the Percussion Group of the Catholic University and in 1971 he was already experimenting with the vibraphone in the Jazz idiom, in concerts with the brothers Roberto Lecaros and Mario Lecaros, following classical vibraphonists such as Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo or Milt Jackson. His permanent impulse towards the rediscovery of popular music led him to meet up with drummer Sergio Meli, who had played until 1969 with Lecaros in the Jazz group Village Trio.

Like the epicentre of musicians who frequented the house of pianist Matías Pizarro to play Jazz and give life to the group Fusión, Rifo and Meli‘s redoubt for organising Aquila was set up in the discotheque Rosso Nero in the Apumaque shopping centre, which had opened spaces for Jazz on Mondays every week and whose owners were Meli himself and Pop singer Paolo Salvatore. In 1973, Aquila ended up as a quintet with an important diversity of influences. It was led by Rifo‘s vibraphone, whose origins were in classical music, and the background of Sergio Meli, drummer of the modern Jazz generation, and also included alto saxophonist Sandro Salvati (who had just passed through the Fusion prototype), electric pianist Guillermo Olivares (until 1972, a member of the rock group Embrujo) and electric bassist Williams Miño (with experience in Popular Music).

Aquila released its only album, Aquila (1974), on the Alba record label, incorporating Fusion-like compositions mostly belonging to Rifo, as well as creations by the rest of the members of the quintet and Modern Jazz pieces by Pharoah Sanders and Herbie Hancock. It closed its active life quickly, after few appearances in a certain underground and with the inconveniences of a city with a curfew. Although, as Chilean musicologist Álvaro Menanteau points out in his book “Historia del Jazz en Chile” (2003), in that brief period Aquila achieved a foundational status in the line of instrumental music.

After the curtain came down, Guillermo Rifo continued to develop his popular vein by musically directing the Sexteto Hindetmith 76 (1973), a learned chamber ensemble that delved into Folkloristic Roots Music, and later leading the Electro-Acoustic group Latinomusicaviva (1978), one of the most significant projects of Latin American Fusion.


[1974] Aquila (Alba Records)


01. Alba
02. Samba Costanera
03: Jenny
04. Maiden Voyage
05. Providencia 12hrs
06. Paquito
07. El Viaje
08. Hum Allah


Guillermo Rifo \ Vibraphone, Musical Director
Sandro Salvati \ Alto Saxophone
Guillermo Olivares \ Elecrtrico Piano
William Miño \ Bass
Sergio Meli \ Drums

Author: Delia Lunardi Acosta

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