Tag Archives: Mexican music

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.

Books

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.

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A Remarkable Meeting of Mexican and Chinese Plucked Strings

Wu Man & Son de San Diego – Fingertip Carnival (Wind Music, 2018)

Acclaimed Chinese pipa player Wu Man enjoys musical journeys, collaborating with musicians from other cultures as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble and other projects. On Fingertip Carnival she collaborates with Son de San Diego, a son jarocho ensemble from San Diego in California.

Fingertip Carnival celebrates the plucked string traditions of China and Veracruz State in Mexico. The album includes six traditional son jarocho songs along with with two recreated Chinese songs.
Wu Man & Son de San Diego provide beautiful interactions between the pipa and the traditional Mexican guitars: the jarana, guitarra de son, leoncita (a larger version of guitarra de son) and punteador (a small guitar).

The musicians that appear on Fingertip Carnival include Wu Man on pipa; Eduardo García on guitarra de son, jarana segunda, panpipes, vocals; Chris Mena on leoncita, punteador and vocals; Germain Lita on jarana tercera and vocals; Verónica Pacheco on guitarra de son and zapateado; Cindy Cox on jarana segunda, vocals, zapateado; Cris Juárez on jarana mosquito, vocals and zapateado.
Fingertip Carnival is an extraordinary meeting of cultures that brings together the beautiful traditions of southeastern Mexico and China.

Get the album from cdbaby.com

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Artist Profiles: Los Cenzontles

Los Cenzontles

Cenzontle is the Aztec word for mockingbird the bird of a hundred voices. Like the cenzontle, Los Cenzontles interpret a variety of regional Mexican styles. Los Cenzontles approach their performances with joyous energy sincerity and depth. Among the styles that they have interpreted are alabanzas, rancheras, pirekuas, son jarocho, Banda Sinaloense, tropical songs and dances of Mexico and the Caribbean and much more.

Since 1990 Los Cenzontles has worked with performed for and received support from numerous celebrities such as Linda Ronstadt Anthony Quinn Los Lobos Cheech Marin Yolanda del Rio Flaco JimÉnez Santiago JimÉnez Jr. Lalo Guerrero Gary Soto and Isabel Allende.

Line-up: Hugo Arroyo – Voice, tololoche (string bass) guitarrón, jarana; Don Gardner – Clarinet saxophone; Julian Gonzalez – Voice violin zapateado; Tregar Otton – violin tololoche palmas; Cristian Rodríguez – zapateado pandero bongos; Eugene Rodriguez – guitar vihuela guitarra de son; Lucina Rodriguez – Voice, zapateado; Fabiola Trujillo – Voice

Discography:

Con Su Permiso Señores (Arhoolie CD 435 1995)

Volando en los Cafetales (Mockingbird Records 1999)

Hypnotizada (Mockingbird Records 1999)

Amor Paz y Sinceridad (Mockingbird Records 1999)

Cancionero (Mockingbird Records 2000)

De Una Bonita compilation (Arhoolie, 2000)

Cuatro Maestros with Santiago Jimenez Jr., Atilano Lopez, Julian Gonzalez and Andres Vega. (Mockingbird Records 2001)

Media Vida (Mockingbird Records 2002)

Plan de la Villa with Julian Gonzalez (Mockingbird Records 2002)

Huapango (Urtext Records 2007)

Songs of Wood & Steel (Los Cenzontles 2008)

Senn-Sont-Less (Los Cenzontles 2008)

American Horizon (Los Cenzontles 2009)

Raza De Oro (Los Cenzontles 2010)

Regeneration (South Central Music 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Lhasa

Lhasa

Her story began in Big Indian, a tiny village perched among the Catskill Mountains of New York although she didn’t stay there long. Lhasa’s (full name Lhasa de Sela) idealistic and unconventional parents rejected routine and stability preferring to follow life wherever it might lead them.

For seven years the family would crisscross the United States and Mexico in a converted school bus Lhasa’s first chapter in a long experience of the road. Her father was a writer and teacher who would work in construction or picking fruit when he had to; her mother was a photographer.

Traveling with them and her three sisters it was her early contacts with books fairy tales radio drama and passing landscapes that shaped her imagination. Even at the time she knew how lucky she was to be spending her childhood as she was although the freedom entailed uncertainty as well.

The soundtrack to those years was a medley of the American and Mexican classics loved by her father and the Latin Arab Eastern European and Asian music her mother would listen to.

San Francisco mid 198s. At 13 Lhasa took to the stage of a Greek cafe to sing Billie Holliday ballads and Mexican tunes a cappella. There she gradually discovered the power of her voice to convey thoughts and emotions she was only beginning to experience herself.

Six years later the road led north to Montreal. It was there that she met guitarist and producer Yves Desrosiers. For close to five years they performed together in downtown bars a collaboration that evolved into original material that eventually took form in La Llorona an album that centered on the persona of a tearful siren of Aztec mythology who would bewitch men with her heartrending melodies.

Infused with a certain nostalgia, the album exuded the fragrances of Mexico and the colors of the Romany full of sensuality and striking instrumentation. Released in February 1997 the Spanish-language album was immediately recognized for its sparkling originality. Hundreds of thousands worldwide were transported by the even throaty voice that delivered such mysterious poetry above the rich arrangements heady like incense.

The first influence was in Quebec where Lhasa began to fill halls and ultimately win the “Felix” for Artiste Quebecois – musique de monde in 1997. Then followed the rest of Canada where she went platinum selling 11 albums and winning a Juno for Best Global Artist in 1998. Then came the U.S. and Europe especially France where La Llorona went triple disc d’or, with albums flying off the shelves.

Lhasa and her band toured relentlessly for several years throughout Europe and North America where her concerts were as acclaimed as the album had been. The demand for live appearances steadily increased. On the eve of the 21st Century Lhasa decided to take a break from touring and consider what might be next.

Realizing that she needed to distance herself from her life as a singer she decided to travel to France to fulfill her childhood dream of performing with her three sisters all circus performers. They met up in Bourgogne and created a show together which premiered in the summer of 1999. The contrast between the life of a touring musician who sees the world fly by with never the time to savor the places and people along the way and the circus life traveling in the company of family and friends sharing trailers and assembling and dismantling the big top and bleachers provided a welcome opportunity for the singer to replenish her inner resources.

When the circus tour had ended Lhasa arrived at a new chapter in her life: Marseilles the ancient port city where half the titles for her new album would be born. In 2002, back in Montreal, where her career had begun she re-united with Francois Lalonde drummer percussionist and sound engineer onLa Llorona and Jean Massicotte pianist who had also contributed to the mixing of her first release. They were to co-produce her second album The Living Road.

Where La Llorona revolves around a mythical siren The Living Road centers on the metaphor of life as a road. A gathering of original titles sung in Spanish, English and French the album bridges physical distances as it links the musical traditions of the present and the past. “That’s what inspires each of the songs on the album,” said Lhasa. “The mysterious force that doesn’t let us box ourselves in that compels us to keep changing. The road is alive we can’t freeze or stop it. And we know we can’t.”

The self-titled and self-produced Lhasa reveled in her eclectic sum of influences was released in 2009.

After battling breast cancer Lhasa passed away on Monday January 1st of 2010 at her home in Montreal Canada. She was 37.

Discography

La Llorona (1997)
The Living Road (2003)
Lhasa (2009)

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Jenny & The Mexicats’ Fresh Mestizo Sound

Jenny & The Mexicats – Mar Abierto (Mexicat Records, 2017)

Globetrotting mestizo music band Jenny & The Mexicats has a new album titled Mar Abierto (Open Sea). The multinational group is led by British vocalist and trumpet player Jenny Ball. Originally based in Madrid, the band later moved to Mexico.

Mar Abierto includes catchy Spanish and English-language songs featuring flamenco rumba, pop, cumbia, reggae, merengue, swing, son veracruzano and pop influences. The English-language set includes Jeny’s neo-soul vocals.

The lineup includes Jenny Ball (UK) on vocals, trumpet and guitar; David González Bernandos (Spain) on percussion and vocals; Alfonso Acosta “Pantera” (Mexico) on guitar and vocals; and Luis Díaz “Icho” (Mexico) on bass.

With Mar Abierto, Jenny & The Mexicats demonstrate that it’s one of the most exciting roots music acts currently based in Mexico.

Buy Mar Abierto

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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.

Buy Songs From Mexico

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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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L&T: Juan Gabriel

Juan Gabriel - Con Mariachi Vol. 2
Juan Gabriel – Con Mariachi Vol. 2

I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time.

Juan Gabriel’s album Con Mariachi Vol. 2 confers Mexican society a variation of traditional spirit that it delights in, this time made fashionably beautiful.

Juan Gabriel is a product of the 20th century whereas Mariachi style of the 19th century. In the 19th century, only the opera singer or the composer was conferred the titles artist, fashionable, beautiful, and could represent a nation. All others were quite simply entertainers.

With the 20th century came both radio and the idea that crowds could decide on the representation of a nation through song, despite the countless songs of the French, American, Haitian, or Mexican revolutions. Mariachi came to represent identity. The 20th century also brought along both prestige for modern art and creatives at marketing and media companies inspired by modern art in the aesthetics of their communication. Juan Gabriel came to represent fashionable beauty.

Gabriel produces 20th century crowd music, for those obsessed with visual beauty, true to 19th century style of music subservient to rituals of fiesta in a society, as opposed to producing them. He does this through his person. Mariachi is wedding music, event music: Gabriel makes good with the idea that is a traditional fiesta, true to old dreams.

Buy Con Mariachi Vol. 2

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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.

Buy Serrano de Corazón

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