Mexican percussionist Guillermo Barrón Ríos has developed his style with different ensembles that cover a wide range of musical genres such as classical music, rock, pop, flamenco, Mexican music, salsa and Latin jazz, among others. He has performed with many international artists: José Feliciano, Luisito Quintero, Charlie Sepúlveda, among others.
Barrón has one Latin jazz musical production under his belt, “¿Cuál es la prisa?” (What’s the rush?), that includes original compositions and arrangements, featuring his main musical influences: Latin-American music, jazz and flamenco. Additionally, he has participated in a great selection of musical recordings, sharing credits with Gilberto Santa Rosa, among many others.
He currently lives in New York City, where he collaborates with different musical projects.
Arturo O’Farrill, born June 22, 1960 in Mexico City, is the son of renowned Cuban composer Chico O’Farrill (whose works have been recorded by Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, the Machito Orchestra, and Mario Bauza).
Arturo pursued studies at the Manhattan School of Music and the Brooklyn College Conservatory, and played in the award-winning jazz band at New York’s High School of Music and Art with future luminaries Marcus Miller and Omar Hakim. He then went on to develop as a solo performer and an ensemble member on recordings and performances with a spectrum of artists: Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Noel Pointer, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band. In 1987 he became musical director for Harry Belafonte. He currently directs the Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band.
Arturo O’Farrill leads the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. the ensemble exemplifies the best that Latin jazz culture offers: rich tradition through music and timeless appeal around the world. Latin jazz is a general term given to music that combines rhythms from African and Latin American countries with jazz harmonies from the United States. Afro-Cuban Latin jazz includes salsa, merengue, songo, son, mambo, bolero, charanga and cha cha cha. Originated in the 1940s, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton began to combine the rhythm section and structure of Afro-Cuban music. Latin jazz employs straight rhythm, not swung rhythm and the conga, timbale, guiro and claves are used in this unique music.
O’Farrill also directs the band that preserves much of his father’s music, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Fort Apache Band, Carla Bley, Lester Bowie, Harry Belafonte, Freddy Cole and Wynton Marsalis. The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra became a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 and has toured internationally, bringing the rhythms and heat of Latin jazz to places as far away as China. Performing the very best of traditional compositions in the canon of the Afro-Latin genre, the large ensemble commissions new work and leads education events when on the road and at Frederick P. Rose Hall. Ultimately, it seeks to provide an opportunity for a new generation of composers, arrangers and instrumentalists to further explore and define the music.
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)
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
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)
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”).
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.
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, founded in 1898 by Gaspar Vargas in Tecalitlan, Jalisco is considered the most important and influential group in the history of mariachi music, playing an integral role in the evolution of the genre.
They have entertained countless heads of states throughout the world and were the first Mariachi to perform at the White House. Mariachi Vargas is the only mariachi that’s been allowed to perform at the Pyramids of Egypt.
Mariachi Vargas appeared on Linda Rondstadt’s award-winning album Canciones de Mi Padre. Rondstadt later toured with the group, exposing international audiences to original Mexican mariachi music.
The Houston Grand Opera collaborated with Mariachi Vargas’ acclaimed leader, José “Pepe” Martinez, to write the score and collaborate with librettist Leonard Foglia in creating the world’s first mariachi opera, “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna” (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”), which was presented to sold-out venues in Paris, Houston, Chicago and San Diego.
Mariachi Vargas has produced over 50 recordings that include sones huastecos sones, waltzes, popurris (medleys), polkas, huapango, and cumbias.
Carlos Santana was born on July 20, 1947 in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. His father, José, an accomplished mariachi violinist, introduced Carlos to ‘traditional music’ at the age of five. The family moved to the border boom town of Tijuana in 1955, where Carlos seriously took up guitar, studying and emulating the sounds of B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, T. Bone Walker and other blues greats he heard on the radio.
As much as he was inspired by the early training he received from his father in traditional musical form and theory, Carlos soon realized his dream was to break free and play rock and roll. He began performing with local bands like The T.J.s, adding his own personal flair to the popular songs of the 1950s.
As he continued playing with different bands up and down the bustling ‘Tijuana Strip,’ Carlos Santana began to hone his considerable skills and invent his inimitable sound. In 1961, he moved to San Francisco, in the United States, joining his family, who had relocated there the previous year.
Destiny had most certainly brought Carlos to the right place at the right time, planting him right in the middle of the burgeoning and hugely influential San Francisco Bay Area music scene. The Bay Area in the 1960s was a melting pot of cultural, political and artistic change. In this climate, Carlos continued to evolve his unique, genre-bending style, and in 1966, he took his music to the people with the debut performance of the Santana Blues Band.
For the next two years, the group was swept up in a whirlwind of acclaim and popularity that carried them from Bill Graham’s historic Fillmore West venue to the main stage at the Woodstock ‘Peace, Love, Music’ Festival. There, on August 16, 1969, the Santana band’s Latin-flavored rock was delivered to the masses.
The world embraced Carlos Santana with passion, captivated by music that was always changing, heralded by a guitar prowess that today remains among the most distinctive. Each new release – including several platinum and gold albums – emerged as a reflection of Carlos’s personal growth and artistic evolution.
Fans also reveled in his humanitarian messages and spiritual affirmations – subtle urgings towards peace, joy, acceptance, compassion and understanding – that have been consistently communicated in a gentle, heartfelt manner at live performances around the globe.
The Santana Band achieved double-platinum status their first time out with the 1969 Columbia debut album, Santana, featuring the hit single ‘Evil Ways,’ and quadruple-platinum with Abraxas, the classic 1970 follow-up which boasted among its tracks ‘Black Magic Woman’ and the incomparable Tito Puente composition “Oye Como Va.”
A period of experimentation with fusion jazz and non-Latin world sounds began with the supern Middle Eastern flavored fusion album Caravensarai in 1972. Santana also collaborated with John McLaughlin, leader of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, one of the top jazz-rock fusion bands at the time.
A musical family reunion took place in 1994 with the album Brothers, which featured collaborations with Carlos’s sibling Jorge and nephew Carlos Hernández.
In 1995, the comprehensive Legacy boxed-set retrospective came out. This was followed in 1997 by a 2-CD collection, Live At The Fillmore, featuring performances from Santana’s historic 1968 shows.
Significant filmed repertoire include the 1988 video retrospective Viva Santana, the 1993 South American concert video Sacred Fire, and 1997’s CD-ROM A History of Santana: The River Of Color And Sound. Fox Television aired the gala special A Supernatural Evening with Santana, a celebration of the record-setting album featuring performances with Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews and Sara McLachlan, among others. This passion also paved the way for ventures into the new musical and geographic territories, including the scoring of the feature film La Bamba, participating in 1987’s Rock ‘n Roll Summit, the first-ever joint US-Soviet rock concert and embarking on a 1988 tour with great jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
Carlos Santana has also contributed his talents tot he benefit of numerous charitable causes, among them Blues for Salvador, San Francisco Earthquake Relief, Tijuana Orphans, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and education for Latin youth in association with the Hispanic Media &Education Group. He’s received numerous civic and humanitarian commendations over the years. In 1998, Carlos Santana and his wife Deborah started the Milagro Foundation.Its mission is to help underprivileged youths.
On Thursday, June 5, 2003, Carlos Santana pledged the profits of his 2003 Shaman tour to fight AIDS. The 23-show Shaman tour was estimated to bring in between 2.5 and 3 million dollars to the cause.
Supernatural Live – An Evening with Carlos Santana and Friends (2002)
Santana – Live by Request (Arista, 2005)
Jam with Carlos Santana with CD with CD (Audio). Publisher: Warner Brothers Publications (2000). ISBN: 1843285371
Santana Easy Guitar Anthology. Publisher: Alfred Publishing Company (2001). ISBN: 0757902200
In Session with Carlos Santana. Warner Bros Pubns; Book & CD edition (1999). ISBN: 1859096220
Carlos Santana: Back on Top by Marc Shapiro. Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (2002).ISBN: 0312288522
Soul Sacrifice by Simon Leng. Publisher: Firefly Publishing (2000). ISBN: 0946719292
For over 20 years, guitarist Sergio Lara has been respected in acoustic contemporary instrumental music. His last recording with Lara & Reyes, World Jazz, received a “Latin Grammy Award” nomination for “Best Instrumental Pop Album” in 2001.
Perhaps better known as the founder and leader of the Latin guitar duo Lara & Reyes, Sergio has explored a great variety of styles that show his eclectic taste. During his collaboration with Lara & Reyes, which included 6 albums recorded for the Higher Octave Music label, they adapted musical traditions from all over the world, with rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean, chord structures from Mexico and Spain, and melodic scales from the Middle East and India, but always with an original stamp, that is basically the Latin guitar within the spirit of improvisation.
Sergio has played different styles, including Jazz, Bluegrass and Flamenco as well as several fusion forms. His music belongs to what is known as Latin Jazz and Flamenco Jazz.
Sergio Lara appears in the international music scene in 1983 with the release of his first solo album entitled Sergiology. In this album he explores various styles influenced by Jazz and Bluegrass. During the following years he participated and collaborated with various artists in Mexico and also with his own band the “New Acoustic Unit” in Nashville, Tennessee, and San Antonio, Texas, and in 1994 released the album Guitarras Hermanas, the first one for Higher Octave Music. This album of all original music, also included a new instrumental version of the very popular and romantic song “Sabor a Mi”.
Sergio Lara was born in Mexico City. He started playing guitar at age nine and very early he discovered and began studying several musical styles. His greatest influences have been the great English Jazz guitarist, John McLaughlin; Costa Rican guitar master, Jorge Strunz; Flamenco Spanish genius, Paco de Lucia; Bluegrass and Jazz guitarist, Tony Rice, the great guitarist Norman Blake, and eclectic mandolin players Sam Bush and David Grisman, among others.
In 1996, Sergio released his next production entitled Two Guitars-One Passion, which received worldwide attention because of its original combination of different musical styles. This album included an instrumental version of the well-known Mexican classic “La Bikina,” which is still very popular on many Jazz radio programs around the world.
His next project was in 1997 with the album Exotico, which incorporated different instruments for the first time, like the piano, flute, sax and violin, making a new mixture of sounds with his guitar. With mostly original compositions this album also includes new instrumental versions of the classic “Mi Ciudad” and the standard “Brazil”.
In 1998, with the album Riverwalk, he gave a twist in regard to his compositions creating new rhythms and melodies. This record includes a medley of 2 wonderful romantic Latin songs, “Solamente una Vez” and “Amor, Amor, Amor,” and in the year 2000, in celebration of the millennium he released Navidad, on which he enters fully into the music of the Christmas season, playing new instrumental versions of 18 standard songs, incorporating the mandolin with the guitar.
In 2004, Sergio Lara immersed himself in several new productions. He recorded 2 new albums for his independent label Fusion Acustica Music.” The first one, a CD of new original instrumental music entitled Con la Lluvia, which includes a new version of the haunting traditional song “La Llorona.” The second project is a collection of traditional folk songs from Mexico and the United States, entitled Entre Guitarras y Mandolinas, performed by Sergio playing all the guitars, mandolin and 5 string banjo. In addition, this album also includes vintage recordings, rescued from Sergio’s personal archives, of traditional Mexican songs performed in a bluegrass style by Sergio playing the mandolin and guitar, joined by members of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a well known and respected bluegrass band from San Antonio, Texas.
With a career that covers many years and more than ten albums under his name, Sergio Lara has appeared in several concerts and participated in important festivals.