Tag Archives: Mexican music

Mexican Roots Fusion and Social Fairness from the Villalobos Brothers

Villalobos Brothers – Somos

Villalobos Brothers – Somos (Villalobos Brothers, 2019)

The Villalobos Brothers hail from Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico area. Their finely-crafted music includes an exquisite mix of traditional son jarocho, contemporary Latin jazz, catchy rock, flamenco and classical music.

The three brothers are violin virtuosos, with a beautiful technique that incorporates various influences, leaning on jazz and classical music. On Somos they treat the listener to fascinating violin interplay and poetic justice.

There is a wonderful mix of acoustic-leaning pieces and powerful tracks with drum set, electric bass and electric guitar.

The lyrics on Somos convey messages of love, peace and social justice, focusing on corruption in their home state, inequality, environmental justice, the Ayotzinapa student murders and poverty. “We believe in music as a positive, necessary and inexhaustible healing force, and we live to share our creations. We are not only troubadours of love and brotherhood, but also activists, speaking against injustice, corruption, greed and impunity.

The lineup on Somos includes Luis Villalobos on vocals and violin; Alberto Villalobos on vocals and violin; Ernesto Villalobos on vocals and violin; Humberto Flores on electric and acoustic guitars, jarana; Rosa Avila on drums; Leo Sherman on electric and double bass; Arturo Stable on percussion on tracks; Javier Cabrera Jasso on percussion; Alberto Jiménez on electric guitar; Manuel Vásquez on cajón; and special guest Arturo O’Farrill on piano.

Somos is a charming and delightful cross-genre album rooted in tradition and social equity, forged by a group of talented young Mexican musicians.

Buy Somos


Artist Profiles: Antonio Zepeda

Antonio Zepeda

Born in Mexico City in 1946, Antonio Zepeda is the first contemporary musician and composer who, from a non-western point of view, gives relevance to the pre-Columbian musical universe of Mexico.

Inspired in the sonority of native pre-Hispanic musical instruments such as drums, flutes, rattles, water drums, turtle shells, conch shells, ocarinas, clay pots and log drums, he re-creates with them the mystical ambience smothered by the dust of history.

Zepeda has inspired hundreds of musicians to follow his path, creating the revival of a musical genre that had remained forgotten for centuries. He has come to represent the voice of the past, carried through to the present by the sounds whose echoes reverberate into our generation.

Zepeda gave his first concert in 1967, and since then he has been able to live with ethnic groups for long periods of time, studying their philosophy, rhythms and customs and continuously researching about the archaeological and anthropological past of the American pre-Columbian civilizations.

He has composed music for multiple documentary and fiction films and recorded special programs for the BBC of England, CBS of the United States, CBC of Canada, WDR of Germany, Radio France, Radio Denmark, Radio and TV of Sweden and NHK of Japan. Through the Mexican Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs he has officially represented his country in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe and has participated in great international festivals.

He is also an outstanding lecturer, and has been presented in schools, universities, conservatories, and museums in Mexico and the world, discoursing on ethnic instruments of Mexico, as well as on the role of music in Mesoamerican pre-Columbian cultures.


Templo Mayor – Música Con Instrumentos Prehispánicos (Olinkan, 1982)
El Rostro de la Muerte Entre Los Nahuas (Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico, 1984)
A La Izquierda Del Colibrí, with Jorge Reyes (Philips, 1986)
La Region Del Misterio [The Place Of Mystery] (Olinkan, 1986)
Corazòn Del Sol (Olinkan, 1987)
Retorno A Aztlan (Olinkan, 1989)
In Necuepaliztli In Aztlan (Retorno A Aztlan) (Olinkan, 1989)
Paisajes, with Eugenio Toussaint (Producciones Fonograficas, S.A. De C.V., 1993)
Brujos Del Aguatierra (Global Entertainment, 1997)
La Música De Los Espíritus (Knife Music, 2000)
Los sonidos del pasado (2001)
Nature (2002)


Artist Profiles: Claudia Martínez

Claudia Martínez

Born in Mexico City in 1961, Claudia Martínez studied music from the age of 9, in the renowned school of Cesar Tort. She later enrolled in the National Conservatory, where she studied classical guitar and singing. She was a pupil of the composers Mario Arturo Ramos and Amparo Rubin, studied classical guitar with Sergio Cacheux, popular Latin American guitar with Esther Echevema, and perfected her vocal technique under the guidance of Guadalupe Molina.

After years of diversity of musical experiences, as a singer for the ancient music consort Convivium Musicum, as a vocalist in Margie Bermejo’s musical show, and in many other projects, ranging from Renaissance music to progressive rock, Claudia moved on to create her own style.

She discovered the music of the Zapotec Indians while working in a research team directed by ethnomusicologist Violeta Torres Medina, which led her into a ten-year personal research on indigenous and traditional sources in addition to the Indian languages, resulting in her first recording project: Xquenda.

After a great success with this record and show, and a second release of Xquenda, under the label Global Entertainment, she decided to have a thorough change in her musical direction. Her work announced an important change of direction in the contemporary interpretation of traditional music.

The Xquenda show includes lullabies to sing for hope, healing and prayer songs, sung by medicine women to cure the soul. Music and dances with drums to ask the gods for rain for the thirsty fields. Songs of love to become a flower and a door opening into the sky. Star games to accompany our children. Xquenda is a Zapotecan word that means “our tutelar spirit, our other self”, and Mexico’s indigenous music is Claudia’s other self.

The Conehua show consists in a collection of Afro-Mexican songs, Nahuatl lullabies, and Tzotzil poem-songs from Chiapas, showing the spirit and the cosmic understanding of the Mexican Indian mothers, in a contemporary fusion rich in modern rhythmic patterns and harmony. Conehua means, in the Nahuatl language, “motherly self”.

Claudia Martínez later changed her artistic name to Tonana. The album Tonana, released in 2000 focuses on universal feminine creativity, inspired by poetry in the Tzotzil language with music by Tonana. During the performance, the spectators join her on a fantastic musical journey that includes lullabies in Nahuatl, Afromestizo songs, centered on the life and death cycle. This magical show is enhanced by interesting sonorous possibilities of contemporary global musical trends. With this project, she was invited to perform at CINARS, Montreal, Canada (2000).

The creative process for Lazos (Links), her third CD, started during the summer of 2002 in Montreal, Canada. It includes authors and their different cultures. African, a Brazilian, an artist from Iran, and a native Indian from Mexico are part of the working team producing this work


Tonana (Urtext Digital Classics, 2000)
Lazos (2002)
Teotithuacan Templo de Voces (Milan, 2009)
The Mystery of Mayan Chant (Milan, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Jaramar


Jaramar Soto was born in Mexico City. She studied music from the age of 10, and soon she discovered early music, in which she found the ideal medium for expressing herself. Jaramar’s first solo recording, Entre la Pena y el Gozo (Between Pain and Pleasure, 1993), is the result of her encounter with the music created in Spain when Moorish, Jewish and Christian cultures lived in the same territory, thus producing works of a great musical wealth.

In 1995 she began a new project: Fingir que Duermo (Pretending to Sleep), which included songs from the Sephardic Jews of Spain and Spanish composers such as king Alfonso X “The Learned (or the Wise), Juan del Enzina and Luys Milan, along with songs freshly composed on the poetry of Mexican writers from the 17th century, like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Bernardo de Balbuena.

The arrangements and overall musical treatment, created by musical director Alfredo Sánchez, is a search for a contemporary sound without forgetting the ancient roots. This is also achieved through a combination of electronic tools and ethnic instruments.

The third of Jaramar’s solo works, Si Yo Nunca Muriera (If I Never Died, 1996) is inspired by the poetry of Nezahualcoyoti, an Aztec poet king, with music by Alfredo Sánchez.

Lenguas (Languages, 1998) her fourth project, includes new versions of songs in the ancient languages of Spain, France, Germany and Mexico. The Mexican pieces included in this work, two popular songs from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. are the starting point for Jaramar’s future project, which will consist in a series of Latin American songs. On stage, Jaramar’s voice is backed by a group of Mexican musicians playing keyboards, string instruments and assorted percussion. For some of her recording projects, Jaramar has received grants from the National Fund for Culture and Arts.

Jaramar’s show can be described as alternative music where different musical forms and periods of time mix. It is music with a great expressive force, where the form of interpretation is as important as the songs themselves. Jaramar takes advantage not only of the diverse colors and nuances of her voice but also of body movement and, occasionally, of visual and dance elements that extend the possibilities of expression.

The combination of instruments contribute to this goal as well: there is a mixture of electronic keyboards, ethnic percussion and string instruments. In Jaramar’s musical journey one can find the mystical and the sacred as well as the sensual and the profane: the regional and the ancient as well as the global and the contemporary.

In The Journey (La Travesia), Jaramar gives a musical testimony of her meeting with all those moments which have originated what we are now. This is done with a curious and playful state of mind. From their own personal positions, where ethnic and electronic instruments meet, Jaramar and her musicians review medieval pieces by Richard the Lionhearted, Alfonso X “the Learned”, Walter Vonder Vogelweide, or the anonymous monks who created what we now know as Carmina Burana.

They stop in the Spanish Palace Songbook and the Moorish-Sephardic melodies: they taste the pre-Hispanic concept of life and death through the poetry of the Mexican king Nezahualcoyotl:they glance at the Colonial poets – Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Bernardo de Balbuena – and finally arrive at the musical hybrids – “sones” from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, “huapangos”, even Venezuelan songs – that appeared in America in more recent centuries.

The musical journey is, therefore, composed of the following parts: Medieval French, German, Latin and Spanish songs. Sephardic music. Colonial poets. Nezahualcoyoti, the poet king. Mestizo songs.


Entre La Pena y El Gozo ‎(Grabaciones Lejos Del Paraiso, 1993)
Fingir Que Duermo ‎(Grabaciones Lejos Del Paraiso, 1995)
Si Yo Nunca Muriera (Grabaciones Lejos Del Paraiso, 1997)
Lenguas ‎(Opción Sónica, 1998)
A Flor De Tierra ‎(Opción Sónica, 1999)
Nadie Creera El Incendio ‎(Opción Sónica, 2002)
Journey – 1992–2002 (Opción Sónica, 2002)
Duerme por la noche oscura (2004)
Que mis labios te nombren (2006)
Diluvio ‎(Discos Intolerancia, 2008)
Fiestas privadas (2011)
La Llorona (2014)
El Hilo Invisible ‎(Fonarte Latino, 2015)


Ruta de viaje hacia un diluvio (2010)


Artist Profiles: Lila Downs

Lila Downs

Daughter of a Mixtec Indian woman and a Scottish-American father, Lila Downs unites cultures and boundaries with her extraordinary voice. Downs was born September 9, 1968 in Tlaxiaco, in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Downs grew up in the Sierra Madre mountains of southern Mexico and later studied music and anthropology at the University of Minnesota and at the University of the Arts in Oaxaca. But it was only through music that Downs reconciled her heritage. “It took a long time to decide that I wanted to sing,” she says. “Something needed to motivate me.”

That motivation was the songs and stories of the Oaxacan people. Her Mixtec mother spurred Downs to sing these songs with sentimiento – a deep, almost empathic emotion which has left audiences of all cultures and countries spellbound.

Downs recalls the first time she was struck with this particular brand of sentimiento. “While I was in Oaxaca, I was asked to translate from English to Mixtec death certificates of young boys who had left for the United States searching for work. Their relatives wanted to know how they had died. It was so powerful, being this translator of their deaths. I had to sing about it, to honor them if I could.”

Since then, composing has become a powerful artistic and cultural outlet for Downs. She researches the ancient codices of the Mixtex and Zapotec people and sets them to music. Down bridges the past and present with stirring songs drawn from the folklore and history of a culture steeped in passion, heartache, tradition, and pride.

On stage. Downs – with her thick braids and soulful, ink-black eyes – transforms herself, becoming the character of the song. “You have to find the spirit to the songs, otherwise it doesn’t matter how pretty you sing. I can’t quite explain what it is, but I think it has something to do with getting to know yourself and feeling right about what you’re doing.”

Downs CD Tree of Life, is inspired by the mythological account in the 16th century Codex Vindobonesis telling of the first Mixtec people being born from trees. Singing in both Mixtec and Spanish, Downs artfully showcases the traditional cumbia and ranchera styles alongside eclectic mixes inspired by border life.

Her 2011 album ‘Pecados y Milagros’ earned both a Grammy and a Latin Grammy award. Lila performed on the soundtrack to the Oscar winning film Frida, the 2002 biopic depicting the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

In 2014, Lila released Raíz (Root), with Spain’s Niña Pastori and Argentina’s Soledad.

Lila’s 2015 ‘Balas Y Chocolate’ also earned a Latin Grammy and went platinum in Mexico.


Ofrenda ‎(self-released, 1994)
Azuláo, En Vivo Con Lila Downs ‎(1996)
La Sandunga (Narada World, 1997)
Tree Of Life (Narada World, 1999)
Trazos ‎(2000)
Border (Narada World, 2001)
Una Sangre – One Blood (Narada World, 2004)
La Cantina (Peregrina Music, 2006)
Shake Away (Manhattan Records, 2008)
Lila Downs y La Misteriosa En Paris – Live À FIP (World Village, 2010)
Pecados y Milagros (Sony Music, 2011)
Raíz, with Niña Pastori and Soledad (Sony Music, 2014)
Balas y chocolate (Sony Latin, 2015)
Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo (Sony Music, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Los Pregoneros del Puerto

Los Pregoneros del Puerto

Los Pregoneros del Puerto is a dynamic Mexican group that performs traditional jarocho music from the Mexican Gulf Coast. Led by Jose Gutiérrez on jarana, the group features Gonzalo Mata, and Manuel Vásquez. Guitarist Valente Reyes also performs regularly with the group. All of these musicians are native to the state of Veracruz, Mexico.

As young men, all three played together in Veracruz in the early 1960s and, after many years of separation, they were reunited in 1982. Gutiérrez, who was brought up in a family of ranchers and musicians, serves as the group’s lead singer, or pregonero (literally, “caller”).


Music of Veracruz: The Sones Jarochos of Los Pregoneros del Puerto (Rounder Records, 1985)


Artist Profiles: Nortec Collective

Nortec Collective

The Nortec Collective is comprised of various artists. The first lineup included Fussible (Pepe Mogt), Bostich (Ramón Amezcua), Panoptica (Roberto Mendoza), Clorofila (Jorge Verdún) and Hiperboreal (PG Beas). These musicians created and perform a style of music called Nortec – a fusion of Norteño (“from the North”) and Techno, documenting the collision between the style and culture of electronica and traditional Mexican music.

Some former members of the collective created an offshoot called Niño Astronauta. The group released a debut CD, Niño Astronauta.

The 2005 album, Tijuana Sessions, Vol. 3 (Nacional Records, 2005), features the hypnotic first single Tijuana Makes Me Happy, as well as the infectious Tengo La Voz.


Nortec Sampler ‎(Mil Records, 1999)
Nortec Collective Presents Bostich + Fussible – Nortec ‎(Opción Sónica, 2000)
The Tijuana Sessions Vol. 1 (Palm Pictures/Mil Records, 2001)
Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3 (Nacional Records, 2005)
Tijuana Sound Machine (Nacional Records, 2008)
Nortec Collective Presents Clorofila: Corridos Urbanos (2010)
Bulevar 2000 (Nacional Records, 2010)
Border Revolver ‎(2013)
Motel Baja (Nacional Records, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Xavier Quijas Yxayotl

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, of Huichole heritage (his indigenous name, “Yxayotl,” is Nahuatl for “tears”). Originally an artist, in the 1970’s he left city life and moved to the mountains of Jalisco and Nayarit, Mexico, to live with his Huichole relatives and the Tepehaunes people. There, Xavier studied and played pre-Columbian instruments, participating in ceremonies and rituals. He developed a passion for making museum quality indigenous instruments – Mayan and Aztec drums and flutes, turtle shell drums, rain sticks, log drums, rattles, gourds.

Xavier has spent most of his life constructing and playing these instruments. He says “All that I do comes from a spirit within me, music is a live representation of nature. In looking at my cultural and musical roots, I realize music crosses all barriers! It was at this time that I decided to form a group and name it América Indígena. The group is composed of people who share my musical sentiments”. During their travels of concerts and ceremonies they interpret the authentic music of the Mayans, Aztecs, Tarahumaras, Yaquis, Tepehuans and Huicholes.

Xavier also sings in Tarahumara and his native Huichol and Nahuatl Languages. They perform magical rituals that captivate the audience providing an unforgettable experience to their audiences as their music is said to cure the soul and spirit. “The concerts are not just for entertainment. I give them a special message with serious significance” he says. “Through them I express the origin and true meaning that exists in that “hidden” world unknown to the generations of our times – this is an ancient music for new generation. I hope that with my music I am able to bring you at least a little of the force of our ancestors, and I hope to captivate your soul and your spirit!”


America Indigena – Music Of Ancient Mexico ‎(1994)
Codex – Music Of Ancient Mexico (America Indigena/Canyon Records, 1997)
Singing Earth ‎(Canyon Records, 2001)
Aztec Dances ‎(Canyon Records, 2002)
Mayan Ancestral Music ‎(2005)
The Color Of Morning ‎(Canyon Records, 2007)


Artist Profiles: Tlen-Huicani


Tlen-Huicani remains one of the most faithful performers of the traditional folk music of Veracruz, Mexico. Since 1973, their music and international achievements have earned the honor of Best Folk Group in Mexico by the Union of Music and Theater Critics.

Tlen-Huicani, which means “the singers” in the indigenous Indian language of Nahuatl, makes the beautiful arpa jarocha or folk harp, the centerpiece of their music. Maestro, Alberto de la Rosa, is respected for his musicianship throughout Mexico and considered among the most outstanding folk harpists in the world. Under his direction, the group has mastered many types of Latin music including songs of emotion as heard on Concierto Romantico, or their innovative program of the traditional music of Mexico with orchestra, titled Cuerdas Veracruzanas.

Along with their traditional costumes and instruments, a concert with Tlen-Huicani is like taking a journey of Mexico’s music, time and place.


Primeras Grabaciones (UV, 1983)
Raíces del Pueblo (Musart, 1985)
Veracruz Son y Huapango (UV, 1988)
Un Canto a Latinoamerica (Peerless, 1989)
Latinoamericano (Sonopress, 1990)
Jarocho (Peerless, 1991)
Pasión Jarocha (Global Entertainment, 1998)
Concierto Romántico Vol. 1 (At Home International Music, 1999)
Concierto Romántico Vol. 2 (At Home International Music, 1999)
Décimas y Romances del Papaloapan (UV, 2005)
De México a Paraguay (UV, 2009)
Navidad con Tlen-Huicani (UV, 2011)
Cantos Navideños (UV, 2015)
Misa Jarocha (2015)


Music for Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

Throughout September and October, the Spanish-speaking nations and Hispanic residents in the United States celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) in the United States. Other countries celebrate the Dia de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Heritage Day).

During the monthlong Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the United States honors the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. World Music Central has put together a list of recent recordings that showcase the diversity of Hispanic music.

Old-School Revolution is an irresistible album by the Hip Spanic Allstars, a new supergroup that brings together members of iconic bands Santana, Tower of Power, Spearhead, and Los Mocosos.

The multinational band celebrates and updates the exciting music made in the 1970s where Spanish Caribbean salsa and Latin jazz met rock and African American soul and funk.


One of the most exciting artists out of Cuba is Eme Alfonso, a talented artist that grew up in a family of groundbreaking musicians, Grupo Sintesis. Her album discography includes Eme (Colibrí) and Voy. Eme has been releasing a series of mesmerizing videos with her latest songs, including:


Cuba is also a land of extraordinary pianists. This is year there has been a wave of albums by some of Cuba’s finest, who combine jazz and Cuban roots music: Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1130, 2018), Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse (Machat Records, 2018), and Un Día Cualquiera by Harold López-Nussa (Mack Avenue).


Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream



Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse



Harold López-Nussa – Un Día Cualquiera



Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares – Aguas

Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa has a new album with fellow Cuban vocalist and violinist Yilian Cañizares titled Aguas, scheduled for release on OTA Records on October 5, 2018. Afro-Cuban roots meet Western classical music, and jazz.


Eliades Ochoa and Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana

The legendary Cuban guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Eliades Ochoa (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) has released a delightful instrumental album with Cuban guitarist Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana (Tumi Music, 2018).

One of the iconic Cuban albums of the 1990s, A toda Cuba le gusta (World Circuit) by Afro-Cuban All Stars has been remastered and reissued on vinyl.

Canada-based Cuban musicians Okan (Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne) have a debut EP titled Laberinto, scheduled for release October 19, 2018. Okan mixes fusion jazz, traditional Cuban music, Mexican influences and jazz swing.



Mariachi Herencia de México – Herencia de la Tierra Mía


With 127 million residents, Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country. The Mexican diaspora has brought mariachi music, norteño and son jarocho to the United States. Mariachi Herencia de México, formed by students from Chicago’s Mexican-American neighborhoods has a new album titled Herencia de la Tierra Mía (Heritage of My Land).

The charming self-released album features iconic Mexican American world music artist Lila Downs, Mexican mariachi star Aida Cuevas and Mexican harp virtuoso Ivan Velasco Herencia de la Tierra Mía includes sones, passionate boleros and a delightful jarocho medley. It was produced by acclaimed Spanish producer Javier Limón, director of the Mediterranean Music Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.


Magos Herrera – Dreamers

Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera (currently based in New York) celebrates Ibero-American (the music of Spanish and Portuguese countries) culture on her new album Dreamers (Sony Music Masterworks). Magos Herrera collaborates with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider. This is not a chamber jazz album, but rather a cross-genre recording where Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider invited guest percussionists on flamenco and global percussion, and flamenco star Miguel Poveda.

Magos Hererera performs songs with lyrics by renowned songwriters and poets and writers, including Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca. It’s a fascinating production with exquisite arrangements.


Radio Jarocho and Zenen Zeferino – Rios de Norte y Sur


Son jarocho, with its captivating guitars and poetic lyrics combines the basic roots of Veracruz’s Mexican musical culture: Spanish guitars and poetry, indigenous rhythms and Afro-Caribbean influence. New York-based Radio Jarocho and acclaimed Veracruz musician Zenen Zeferino have released Rios de Norte y Sur.



Wu Man & Son de San Diego – Fingertip Carnival

A different take on son jarocho is the remarkable Fingertip Carnival, a collaboration between Chinese pipa (lute) maestra Wu Man and son jarocho ensemble Son de San Diego.


Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles – Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released the self-titled album Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. This groundbreaking all-female ensemble has served as a role model for Hispanic women in music. This is classic spirited mariachi at its best. The album includes a 44-page booklet with notes in English and Spanish.


. Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica

The highly romantic boleros are very popular across the Spanish-speaking nations. A form of rootsy guitar-based bolero has developed in Mexico’s Costa Chica region bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica (ARC Music) features some of the finest acts from the region, including Pedro Torres, Fidela Peláez, Chogo Prudente, Los Tres Amuzgos, and Las Hermanas García.


Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco

¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2028) is the new album from one of son jarocho’s leading acts Mono Blanco, a group created in the late 1970s by Gilberto Gutierrez Silva.


Plena Libre – Amores en el Camino

Gary Nuñez & Plena Libre have been touring extensively with their explosive mix of Puerto Rican plen and bomba, salsa and jazz. Amores en el Camino (Love’s Journey) is their 2018 album. The album was originally scheduled for release in 2017, but it was moved to February 2018 due to Hurricane Maria and the subsequent disaster in Puerto Rico.


Miguel Zenón – Yo soy la Tradición

Puerto Rican saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón has released Yo soy la Tradición, his eleventh album. Yo soy la Tradición was commissioned by the David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. It is a set of 8 chamber compositions for alto saxophone and string quartet that include Zenón and the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet.


Zemog El Gallo Bueno – YoYouMeTú Volume 3

Puerto Rican-Peruvian act Zemog El Gallo Bueno (Abraham Gómez-Delgado) has combined three of his releases on YoYouMeTú Volume 3. Zemog El Gallo Bueno makes an eclectic cocktail of sounds that includes cha cha ch, salsa, guaracha, rock, funk and electronics. The album will be available November 9, 2018.


Dengue Dengue Dengue – Semillero

Peruvian band Dengue Dengue Dengue has a new mini-LP titled Semillero released September 2018 by On The Corner Records. The 6-track recording includes a mix of electronic music with Afro-Peruvian coastal rhythms and healing chants from the Huni Kuin people of the Amazon River.


Susana Seivane – Fa

Galicia in northwestern Spain is a land of pipers, traditionally male. The trailblazing Susana Seivane is one of the finest bagpipe players of her generation. She has just released her fifth album titled Fa.


Sondeseu – Beiralua

Also from Galicia is the grand folk orchestra called SondeSeu, an orchestra featuring folk music instruments such as zanfonas (hurdy gurdies), bagpipes, flutes, drums, fiddles and vocalists. The new album Beiralua features special guests on vocals and bagpipes.

Galician experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Mercedes Peón reconstructs tradition with a mix of electronics, rock, traditional acoustic instruments, sampled sounds, and fascinating vocal experimentation on her new album titled Deixaas.

Argentine pianist Juan Carlos Cambas has been living in Galicia since 2002. He has released “Almas en el viento / Música Argentina de raíz“. Juan Carlos Csambos has been exploring the music of countries where large numbers of Galicians emigrated to: Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Uruguay.


Pedro H. da Silva and Daniel Binelli – Tango Fado Duo

Argentine tango and Portuguese fado come together on Tango Fado Duo (Sorel Classics). The album features Portuguese guitar virtuoso, Pedro H. da Silva and bandoneon maestro Daniel Binelli. Together, they delve into two of the most passionate musical genres in the Hispanic and Lusophone world.


Stu Mindeman – Woven Threads

American keyboardist Stu Mindeman collaborates with Chilean musicians on the exquisite Woven Threads, mixing jazz, Chilean music and global rhythms.


Aljibe – Agua, Músicas tradicionales de la Cuenca del Tajo


Folk music band Aljibe, from Central Spain, explores the music of the Rio Tajo (Tagus River) basin on Agua. The band presents reconstructed traditional music from Castile and other regions. The CD is housed in a beautifully-packaged hard cover 144-page book with vintage photos and lots of details about the songs selected.


Vigüela – A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition


A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition is a double set of Castilian folk music songs performed by the rising stars of Spanish folk music, Vigüela.


Chano Dominguez – Chano & Colina

Chano Dominguez started as a progressive rock keyboardist with Andalusian rock band Cai and has become one of the leading flamenco jazz pianists. His most recent album is a collaboration with Spanish jazz bassist Javier Colina: Chano & Colina (Sunnyside, 2018)


Marta Gómez – La alegría y el canto


Colombian singer-songwriter Marta Gómez released La alegría y el canto (Aluna Music), an album featuring well-known musicians from South America, Cuba and Spain.


Chabuco – Encuentro


Brazilian music is the focus of Colombian singer-songwriter Chabuco’s 2018 album Encuentro. It’s a nicely-crafted encounter between the tropical music of Colombia and Brazilian music, featuring Brazilian musicians.


Spanglish Fly – Ay Que Boogaloo!


One of the hottest musical styles in New York’s Hispanic community was bugalú (boogaloo), a hybridization of Latin Caribbean music and African American influences. New York City-based band Spanglish Fly has renovated boogaloo and released Ay Que Boogaloo! (Chaco World Music) earlier this year. This time Spanglish Fly ventured beyond boogaloo, adding bolero, New Orleans funk, swing jazz, Arabic chants, and other innovations.


Los Texmaniacs – Cruzando Borders

Los Texmaniacs plays the border music of Tejas (Texas), Tejano music. Their latest album Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2018) brings together Spanish, Mexican and American country music roots. Guest includes Lyle Lovett and country singer Rick Treviño.


Orquesta Akokán – Featuring José “Pepito” Gómez (Daptone Records) is an encounter between a big band collective of Havana’s finest musicians and musicians from New York’s Latin music scene with mouthwatering mambo as the common language.


Various Artists – Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016

Various string instrument masters appeared live at a festival in the Czech Republic and recorded Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016 (Indies Scope, 2017). The lineup included Germán López, one of the finest timple (a small Spanish guitar from the Canary Islands) players in the Canary Islands, Spain; along with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione; Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita; and Czech mandolin virtuoso Martin Krajíček.


Makrú – Tu Mission

Makrú, a band from the Mission District in San Francisco combines skillfully Colombian and Caribbean music, flamenco, rock, Middle Eastern flavors and much more on – Tu Mission (Makru Music, 2018)


Ron Korb – World Café

Canadian flute virtuoso Ron Korb celebrates the music of Latin America and Spain on World Café, featuring Cuban and Canadian musicians with a mix of melodic jazz, tango, rumba flamenco and other influences.


StringShot – Blues and Latin

Paraguayan harp player Carlos Reyes collaborates with Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Badi Assad and American blues guitarist on Blues & Latin, a combination of blues, smooth jazz and South American sounds.


Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar by Walter Aaron Clark (University of Illinois Press, 2018) is an depth look at the leading Spanish guitar family in the United States, the Romeros. The family tradition was started by Spaniard Celedonio Romero who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s.