One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Linton Corbie
Undoubtedly the most popular and exciting style of the Mexican folk music, the Son Jarocho (known as the Son) has been given the royal and exclusive attention which it deserves in this CD, La Iguana. This album presents a comprehensive, totally acoustic and entertaining representation of this festive music in the hands of some of the best campesino bands in the Veracruz region of Mexico. Like much of Mexico's music, the Son is a product of Spanish, African and indigenous cultures and it dates as far back as the eighteenth century. The music is performed mainly on stringed instruments like harp, Spanish guitar, jarana guitar and requinto guitar; the last two instruments are of varying sizes and numbers of strings.
La Iguana highlights seven bands and one soloist performing the Son Jarocho. Some of these artists have recorded extensively before and attained commercial success. Others, though enjoying legendary status amongst peers and fans in their region, have never been recorded before. Much of the same can be said about the tracks included in this collection.
For instance, there is the universally famous and beloved La Bamba performed by Conjunto de Santiago Tuxtla. The treatment here is very folkloric and earthy, unlike other more well-known versions of the tune. From the first beat, it always inspired my two and four year old daughters to happily prance around the living room. On the other hand, we have the very rarely heard La Sarna which is gratefully resurrected here by Los Tiburones del Golfo.
As mentioned in the excellent and well-researched CD liner notes, the singing approach is very "gutsy" and the pregonero or lead singer "has a style of almost speaking out the lyrics rather than competing with the melodic flourishes on the harp and requinto." The tempos range from slow and waltzy to rapid and passionate. Needless to say, with the inherent improvisational nature of the Son Jarocho, listeners are in for some really virtuosic musicianship.
This CD represents an important document on the history and current standing of Mexican folklore. It also provides a means by which lovers of Latin music everywhere can gain a deeper and more well-rounded knowledge of the history and intricacies involved in this wonderful musical expression.
Edited by Paula Gregorowicz