Tag Archives: Mexico

Effective Letter of Introduction to Yuly Tovar

Yuly Tovar – Songs From Mexico (Arc Music EUCD 2714, 2016)

The delicate combination of chicano afterbeat and the general ear is challenging. We tend to hear eight bars of Mexican euphony of whatever quality and file it under “humorous film scene background music.” Listen to this one again. The challenge is met.

With this sort of music, one hears the message THROUGH the recording rather than along with it. The environment is established first.

The environment, for multiple award-winning Yuly Tovar, is somewhat south of the border between arid and tropical. It is a “wet” mariachi, more languid than the familiar standard, and closer to the emotion than to the technical form. The afterbeat is there, and the pull toward minor keys, but the foundation is … in the verdant bushes, rather than in the sun-beaten, dry plains.

This is no field recording, with engineers taking what they can get. The mix is absolutely the star here. Balances between sections are unique and perfect for getting the tunes across. Ms. Tovar is in perfect sync with the players, sometimes using her voice as part of the horn section, then lilting atop the strings, then laying back to encourage relaxation along with the backline rhythm. She is spotlighted throughout this release as a consummate band leader.

“Songs from Mexico” is the first global release for Ms. Tovar, already well known and respected in her own country. It should serve as a most effective letter of introduction for her.

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Artist Profiles: Los Utrera

Los Utrera – Photo by Rodrigo Vázquez

Los Utrera is a group from Veracruz, Mexico that was founded in 1992 around the Son Jarocho traditions of this musical family and patriarch Esteban Utrera, who plays guitarra de son.

The group uses various forms of guitars including guitarra de son, jarana, and jarana barroca, along with quijada (donkey jaw), zapateado (foot percussion) and violin.

Throughout the years, Los Utrera have pushed the boundaries of traditional Son Jarocho introducing non-traditional instrumentation and then expanding their repertoire to include Son Huasteco, also of Veracruz.

They have performed in festivals in the United States and Europe.

Discography:

Son Jarocho, En el Hueco de un Laurel… Ay Soledad! (1996)
¡Ay Cosita! (2000)
Con Utrera Yo Aprendí (2004)
En Vivo at Chicago Old Town School of Folk Music (2006)
Esteban Utrera, Guitarra de Son (2008)
Para Curar un Dolor (2010)

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They’re Happy Days

Lone Piñon – Días Felices (Living Music Duplication, 2017)

This new release from New Mexico, the self-professed “land of enchantment”, is sure to get you dancing. Acoustic trio, Lone Piñon’s second album, (literally translated Happy Days), is a fiesta of music that pays homage to the borderland’s cultural roots. The band members hail from different geographic, cultural, and musical backgrounds but have come together since 2012 to revive the New Mexican Chicano string band style. According to the band’s bio, they “bring a devoted and explosive musicianship to Northern New Mexican… and Mexican music”.

It’s a challenge not to clap, tap, or sway along with these rhythms. Catchy melodies abound, the vocal harmonies sung in Spanish, English, and Nahuatl. The instruments also sing: violin, accordion, guitar, guitarrón, and upright bass. Multiple themes recur and duel. Some are upbeat and some are dark and mesmerising. Some songs sound like soundtracks, some a wedding jig, some a square dance.

The opening instrumental track, “El Borrachito”, is a celebratory introduction and heralds the party to follow. Another fifteen tracks of dance music and crooning ballads demonstrate Lone Piñon’s complex repertoire.

Standout tracks are: “Estas Lindas Flores”, a duet of vocals and accordion in a jolly hoedown; “El Querreque”, a toe-tapper in huapango style; and “La Llorona”, alternating brisk fiddle and doleful lament that tells a clear narrative with or without lyrics.

 

 

Listening to this album highlights the pleasure to be derived from cross-cultural relationships. These Días Felices are uplifting.

 

 

Buy Días Felices in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Días Felices in Europe

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Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú Release Serrano de Corazón

Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú Serrano de Corazón
Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú Serrano de Corazón

Smithsonian Folkways Tradiciones/Traditions has released a new album Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú. The title of the recording is Serrano de Corazón (Highlander at Heart).

Huapango arribeño is a distinct regional tradition of Mexican music with colonial roots, long-lasting but sheltered in its mountainous homeland in the central states of Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, and Querétaro.

Remarkable folk poet Guillermo Velázquez and his Leones de la Sierra de Xichú deliver the songs with their violins, guitarra quinta huapanguera, jarana, and percussive dancing. Serrano de Corazón (Highlander at Heart) evokes the spirit of all-night topadas, competitive duels between poets and their musicians for the delight of all. The album includes a 40-page bilingual booklet with photos.

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Rounder Records Reissues Music of Veracruz by Los Pregoneros del Puerto

Los Pregoneros del Puerto - Music of Veracruz
Los Pregoneros del Puerto – Music of Veracruz

Rounder Records has reissued the album Music of Veracruz by Los Pregoneros del Puerto. The reissue is part of Rounder’s back catalog of world music albums released into full digital distribution.

This delightful music from the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz in Mexico features diatonic harp, the four-string requinto, and the eight-string guitar called the jarana. The powerful vocals of group leader José Gutierrez and supported by string harmonies, while the majestic harp playing of Gonzalo Mata is a wonder to behold.

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