Began their career in the late 1960s linked to New Chilean Song movement, however with the advent of the military dictatorship and cultural constraints of the time, added to the great instrumental vocation of its members, they evolved into a progressive rock style, and then to a fusion sound that incorporated elements also from jazz fusion, contemporary music, pop music, and world music, in a style named by them as The New Latinamerican Music.
It is one of the most important bands in the history of the Chilean music, both for his refined musical compositions with lyrics of social and ethnic content, as well as by the good reception of the national and international public and critics. Formed together with Los Jaivas and Los Blops, is one of the cornerstones in the new Chilean progressive sound and the 'Chilenization of Rock' between the mid 60's and early 70's.
The main composer, leader of the band, and drummer is Sergio "Tilo" González, and the lyricist and singer is Francisco "Pancho" Sazo. Both are founder members alongside Tilo's brothers and ex members (Fernando and Patricio), and Fernando Hurtado.
The band is currently form by Tilo Gonzalez, Pancho Sazo, and Raul Aliaga (percussion), Sebastián Almarza (piano), Federico Faure (bass), Jaime Atenas (sax), and Hugo Pirovic (flautes). Tilo's son, Simón González, is a recurring guest member as guitarist.
Congreso roots are in 1964, the year they started working in Quilpué on the core of the three Gonzalez brothers: Patricio, Sergio and Fernand, alongside bassist Fernando Hurtado. They formed a school rock band was called The Stereos, then The Shadows and finally, Los Masters. During this period devoted themselves to instrumental covers of rock songs in English. Parallel to Los Jaivas, began towards 1969 to experiment with indigenous ethnic instruments. With the addition of bassist and singer Francisco Sazo, from the beat band Los Sicodélicos, the band had a new training. Since then called Congress. The origins of Congreso is a mixture of these two groups, influenced like many of his generation, for the pop rock of The Beatles. However, the new Latinamericanist winds geared the quintet toward a new style of rock bands as outlined by Los Jaivas in Viña del Mar and Los Blops in Santiago. That touches of folk rock songs describes early 1969 works, mainly with flutes, andean aerophones and charango, as well as pop rhythms as in the fundamental song "Vamos andando mi amigo", which is a version of the hippie youth on this side of the world in the era of Woodstock. In 1971 they released El Congreso, their first album, which included a theme based on the poem by Pablo Neruda "Maestranzas de noche" and other classics, according to a formula that was presented at the Festival of the Nueva canción chilena that year (at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago ). The Gonzalez brothers resolved then enter to study at the Institute of Music of the Universidad Católica, which ensnared their group work, but without disrupting their live performances.
The 1973 Chilean coup d'état cut soon the process of recording their second album, Terra Incognita, only released two years later and with a limited diffusion, given the cultural space closure. The band did not lower his arms, and became one of the few groups who continued to work in Chile during the early years of the dictatorship. Fusion music and almost cryptic lyrics were their codes to survive the rigorous state surveillance: "Four black Horsemen / fly by / raising night / fog and fear" say in "Cueca of the apocalypse" (snippet of the song "Arcoiris de hollín"), included in the album Congreso in 1977, also sometimes referred to as "brown disk" and in a clear reference to the Military junta. Two years later they recorded La Misa de los Andes, which was not widely distributed and preceded the first group break up when three members, Fernando Hurtado, Renato Vivaldi and vocalist and lyricist Francisco Sazo, is leaving the group. The latter traveling to Belgium for a PhD in philosophy .
Joe Vasconcellos lead singer of the band between 1980 and 1984, replacing Francisco Sazo. The first leg of the group had a reduced the power being insert in the dictatorship, but the protest songs were cleverly camouflaged with poetic lyrics and musical complexities. The three Gonzalez brothers took over a year to reassemble the group while maintaining working as support musicians in television orchestras and pop musicians as the Argentine pianist Raúl di Blasio. So they met the young Chilean-Brazilian Joe Vasconcellos, whose latinamericanist interests and his musical training thought he would give a new look to the project. Beside him completed the reshaping of Congreso the recently intregreated pianist Anibal Correa and bassist Ernesto Holman, who not only was an old acquaintance of his times Tilo Gonzalez university in the Valparaiso, but it also would become one of the most representatives of the new fusion sound of the group. Vasconcellos then assumed as a lyricist, and with that scheme published Viaje por la cresta del mundo in 1981, one of his strongest works, with some of the most challenging Tilo's compositions as "Viaje por la cresta del mundo", "Hijo del diluvio" or "El descarril" among others, however public recognition would come with the inclusion of a simple song, the classic "Hijo del sol luminoso" written by Joe Vasconcellos. Congreso then given a clear shift towards progressive rock, but always manteining a Latin Americanist style. Moving between the stages of the Nueva Canción Chilena, rock spaces that opened in those years, and college circuits, Congreso consolidated in this new context as a fundamental band of the Chilean scene. With his album, Ha llegado carta (1983) roamed many scenarios, and were hired by CBS-Argentina to record a new production. Vasconcellos left the band, and the group focus its repertoire on instrumentals, which gave life to Pájaros de arcilla in 1984. In this year Valparaiso's saxophonist Jaime Atenas joined the group from the group Ensemble Jazz-Fusion. This album is one of the most critically acclaimed by specialist in the history of Congreso, however hardly circulated on this side of the mountains, so the home crowd went away, generating a new crisis was settled shortly after the Sazo reinstated (by then, Ph.D., after years of study in Europe)
A new album would cool the style of the group, a reference becoming mandatory in new Congreso: Estoy que me muero (1986), returning to a more popular style, again created by Sazo letters. Moreover, drummer Sergio Tilo Gonzalez, band leader, had recruited two young musicians from Fulano; (keyboardist Jaime Vivanco and electric bassist Jorge Campos), giving a boost to the third band. Congreso is aimed at merging with fine touches of jazz, always his own way, with songs like "Súbete a la vereda", "La isla del tesoro" y "Calipso intenso, casi azul" among others. With renewed formation, Congreso toured Chile in 1987. The result of that tour came the double cassette Gira al sur, which was distinguished by its emphasis on dance rhythms, bright songs and colorful staging, with the band all the fame garnered scattered in twenty years of history. The song "Calypso intenso, casi azul" was the emblem of the new stage, the development and popularity coincided with the Chilean referendum, 1989 that defined output Augusto Pinochet of La Moneda, and the Chilean transition to democracy. In that way edited Para los arqueólogos del futuro (1989), one of the discs quicker pace in its history, and in which they sang about racial freedom, they played, ironized and deployed all its instrumental resources. According to Sazo, the album "reflects the ability of the American oblivion. Oblivion for the dead, especially for the last time." Songs like "Para la libertad" or "El trapecista" reached high radial difussion, especially "En todas las esquinas" which became one of the iconic themes of the arrival of democracy. The album was the first in the group's history to reach the category of "gold" (for 15,000 copies sold). Congreso retained the formula on the next disc, Aire Puro (1990), but the mass echo was, this time, more moderate. The success of this period include themes that echoed those living with passion the Chilean transition to democracy, as in the "Aire puro", which allowed them to participate in the legendary concert Desde Chile... un abrazo a la esperanza of Amnesty International in 1990 alongside renowned international artists such as Sinéad O'Connor, Sting, Peter Gabriel, New Kids on the Block, Jackson Browne, Luz Casal, Wynton Marsalis, Rubén Blades, and Inti-Illimani, among others.
Two concept albums, of high musical development but little massive understanding, was their next works, both published in 1992. Pichanga was developed a work based on poems by Nicanor Parra, based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which involved institutions like UNICEF, Raddabarnen of Sweden, Terranova of Italy, and the Ministry of Education of Chile. Fuegos del hielo was composed for a modern ballet, in a contemporary classical music style, referring to the extinction of the ethnic groups of the far south of Chile such as Alacalufes, Aonikenk, Yaganes and Selknam. The work was exhibited at Teatro Municipal de Santiago as well as in the Festival of Italica in Seville, Spain, and the Opera of Budapest, in Hungary, among many other places in the old continent. Each of these works was complex for the general public, confirming the limited commercial vocation of Congreso. Although the group moved away from rankings and charts, remained close to a public of high fidelity. Dedicated to his musical trades separately, the members of the band for a while down the intensity of creation together until 1994, when, through 25 años de música (a live album, with featured guests like Isabel Parra , Inti- Illimani, Eduardo Gatti, Argentine León Gieco and several former members of the group), reviewed its history of more than four hours of uninterrupted music.
Two years after this live album, recorded two new original work in 1997 : Por amor al viento and Mediodía. The first was released independently, due to the poor relationship the band had by then developed with record labels, and in a year that brought great but not massive impact. Mediodía, meanwhile, included live shots for some of his strongest songs.
From the 1990s onwards, many of the most emblematic of Congreso developed musical projects in parallel. Tilo Gonzalez works as a producer of Magdalena Matthey and musicalizing documentaries. Jaime Atenas worked with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano de Saxophones, Jaime Vivanco and Jorge Campos continued working on Fulano, while the latter also leads several projects of experimental rock and jazz fusion. Because each member have musical work separately, following disk recording delayed. In 2001, and with 32 years of existence, decided to release a new album inaugurating a different stage, so to publish that year, his new LP, La loca sin zapatos. It is an excellent opportunity to encounter the public with the group. Sazo's work in this album is remarkable in that still doing great lyrics like "Pasillo de amor", a slower, in the line of "Nocturno" which tells the love story of a prostitute and client. On the album also includes a version of "Angelita Huenuman" of Victor Jara, who had already appeared in the immortal artist tribute album, and "Farewell", with texts by Pablo Neruda's work belongs to "The poets of Chile". By then, EMI had expired contract with Tilo and the relationship was very strained. Under this situation, Tilo Gonzalez creates his own recording studio and label to enter the wave of self-management. Thus make his production "Macondo" and independent label "Macchi" which debuts the new board and is distributed by Sony Music. For years, all the stamps belonged to EMI and Alerce. And comes the fateful year of 2003. While in the capital Estacion Mapocho was watched the remains of Eduardo "Gato" Alquinta, other news shook the creole music: Jaime Vivanco (only 42 years old), composer and keyboardist of Congreso and Fulano, among other groups, was found dead at his home commune Recoleta on January 17. In the wake, "Tilo" Gonzalez, noticeably affected, said: "Right now there is nothing to say, I am very sad, desolate.It's a blow, we feel very strongly." After this hard blow, Tilo decides the name of Jaime's replacement a few months after the fateful fact. Sebastian Almarza is chosen to face this challenge.
Given the low coverage of the music of Congreso in Chile, decided to seek better fortune abroad and manage actions for the internationalization of the whole. Congreso launches tour in the United States with encouraging proposals including participation in an international jazz festival and the ability to distribute the complete discography in North America. It was then that the group finally began its international, especially considering the college circuit U.S. and scenarios of the "world music". There he won Congresso a new space, which continued to explore for many years. On American soil were in the states of Montana, Nebraska, Texas, California and Louisiana, where they gave concerts, jams sessions and even gave lectures, notable is the participation of Jorge Campos, who spoke about techniques under the Jazz Institute of Music the University of California at Berkeley, and the intervention of Hugo Pirovic, Myrna Loy Center in a talk on flutes and ethnic instruments. So, a reporter on one of the tours to the United States described his surprise when he realized that Congreso complete records transmitted by the radio in New Orleans, as was the case of La loca con zapatos and Los fuegos del hielos.
The group went on his way, and two years after the last album, released another live album Congreso de exportación, with the record being submitted to dash back at Teatro Oriente. The call showed that the band, despite the remoteness of the mass media has a significant and loyal following of audience. Congreso de exportación, alludes playfully as Tilo, to trade agreements with Europe and the United States, and also to their next trip. His international reputation is echoed in Chile so are invited to participate in the XLVI International Song Festival of Viña del Mar, without compromise, and a sample of perseverance and force of his formula. Congreso passes a good time thanks to their renowned live CD, winning an Altazor Awards.
On Saturday June 18, 2006 is a day that will hardly be forgotten, as before a packed house, Jorge Campos took leave of Congreso. After 20 years of joint history, Jorge Campos, left. The show this Saturday night at the Teatro Oriente in Santiago was his farewell to the Chilean public and Congreso. The new professional and musical challenges, required him to close the loop and from Congreso to act on new solo projects in England before returning to Fulano in 2009. The event reached 1,200 people, which forefill the compound where the bassist played for the last time, before traveling to settle in the UK. After the successful presentation of farewell, Congreso began a small tour in Europe that led to the set to Paris and Brussels. Federico Faure is called by Tilo to be part of the new line of Congreso.
In 2007 performed a memorable concert at the Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho which brought together all the members that were once part of Congreso since its inception in 1969 less Jorge Campos. In December 2009 a concert performed because of the 40 years of the group, was performed with the symphony orchestra of the Teatro Municipal de Santiago directed by Edward Browne, as well as with the symphony orchestra of Antofagasta in the Ruins of Huanchaca. These consisted of orchestral concerts, which will be reflected on a new album which will be released probably in 2013. After nine years away from the recording studio, in July 2010, launched on the market Con los ojos en la calle as a result of this way back to the stage. The album features songs by Tilo González and Francisco Sazo, and guests such as Brazilian Lenine and Ed Motta, plus the Chilean singer Magdalena Matthey.
On 20 and 27 April 2012 Congreso made a double concert at the Cultural Center Matucana 100 made from an online vote of 20–23 selecting songs rated out of 70 possibles. The concert was recorded and filmed for DVD fulfillment. Finally the release of the DVD entitled to demand Congreso was held on September 1 in a concert at the Teatro Oriente meaning audiovisual most important work of the band.
In January 2014, the project "Congreso Sinfónico" (Symphonic Congreso), finally goes on sale on CD after four years of live performances celebrating the 40 years of the group, performed together with the symphony orchestra of the Teatro Municipal de Santiago directed by Eduardo Browne, as also with the orchestra of the University of Concepción in the homonymous city, as many other orchestras around the country. These concerts consisted of orchestral arrangements from the classical repertoire of Congress.
On July 26, 2013 re-release the album Pichanga: Antipoemas by Nicanor Parra to 21 years of its original edition with a concert in Matucana 100. In the same line, in April 2014 the group performed the album Pájaros de Arcilla, celebrating 30 years of its launch in Argentina. The album was never presented in Chile despite being considered one of the masterpieces of the band given the quality and execution of the compositions.
In March 2015, they released the single El fin del show at the Lollapalooza Chile concert, included in the compilation album Legado de trovadores, and as a preview of their next studio album.
Continuing with the reinterpretations, the group presented the album Terra Incógnita (1975) in July 2016, due to its re-release in vinyl record format. They also announce the release of their new studio album, entitled La canción que te debía, for the next few months.
On January 5, 2017, they perform at the Rockodromo 2017 for the first time playing together with Los Jaivas, at Plaza Sotomayor in Valparaíso, also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Violeta Parra, in more than 3 hours of music that featured the presence of 15,000 attendees.
On November 25, 2017, the new album entitled La canción que te debía (The song that owed you), was finally released in a double concert at the Teatro Oriente in Santiago. They also premiered the video clip of the song Premio de consuelo for youtube, which adds to the theme Fin del show premiered some time ago. The presentation included the participation of lyric singer Pamela Flores, and Simón González on guitar, son of Tilo. It features the intense song entitled A las yeguas del apocalipsis (To the mares of the apocalypse) in tribute to Pedro Lemebel. At the same time, the book Los Elementos: voces y asedios al grupo Congreso of Rodrigo Pincheira, was launched, becoming the first literary work entirely dedicated to the band.