This is a collaboration that truly shows what can happen when creativity and cultures come around together in an atmosphere of harmony and collectivity. This reviewer will admit to complete ignorance of Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds, not a permanent but a floating ensemble formed in 1989 in San Pablo, CA by Eugene Rodriguez) though not of all Mexican music. Taj Mahal I first encountered in the 60s, his work as a bluesman and his work with The Rising Sons formed with Ry Cooder and later his work as a musicologist; and David Hidalgo I know through his work with Los Lobos and his various side projects, The Latin Playboys and Los Super Seven. This project fuses the traditional music of Mexico with the many varied forms of the Blues and Roots music. Some member or the jointed workings of this diverse grouping writes the 15 songs, except for three traditional ones. As to the instrumentation used on the disc it runs from electric guitar and bass to drums, huspanguera, zapateado, and ukulele to name but a few of them. Most of the songs are sung in Spanish a few in English and a couple of others in a mixture of the two languages.
Whatever the language of the song, the instrumentation used, or the stylistic genre of the material, the music is superb and exceptional. Oft times the songs might start with a blues riff and are sung in Spanish, or vice versa and any other combination you might wish to elaborate upon. It is one of the most interesting discs to bless my ears in a long while. Give a listen to La Fuerza (The Strength) and its beautiful interplay with Pete Sears sitting in on piano, Taj on organ and the electric guitar work of David. This is one of those discs that will expand your musical boundaries and on which you will be happy you took a chance for the music and the dissolving of imaginary boundaries. Eugene Rodriguez and David Hidalgo did a stunning job on the production of this disc.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles