Great Roots Music That Is Hard to Define

2 Oct

los cent

American Horizon – Los Cenzontles with David Hidalgo & Taj Mahal Produced by Eugene Rodriguez and David Hidalgo © 2009 Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center, David Hidalgo & Taj Mahal

My friend Cary Baker of Conqueroo tipped me to this roots supergroup. I am so glad he did. The music connected with me on the very first listen and that is a rarity these days. I have long been a Los Lobos fan and enjoyed meeting David Hidalgo a couple years back. He was just as I expected him to be: friendly, soft spoken and humble. Taj Mahal is another personal favorite of mine. He’s bluesy, but his diverse talents and tastes can’t be pidgeon holed into just the blues category. You might find him fiddling up a storm or releasing a collection of Hawaiian folk tunes. He is hard to pin down and I like that in a recording artist.

This time around Hidalgo and Taj join forces with Los Cenzontles. We especially liked tracks 3, 7, and 10 on this collection. The third track is titled “Suenos” (Dreams). Track 7 is “Overtime” and track #10 is “Best of Me.” These tunes caught my attention due to their unique sound and structure. You can surely detect the blues and Mexican folk influences, but the female vocals remind one a bit of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. And that, in my book, is a good thing.

Check this one out — fans of roots and world music should love it. I did!  

This is the story of a place that is a place, but also a state of mind where people come from around the world to build their lives… to rise above. People give up what they were to become something new, believing that if you work hard you can make a better life for yourself and your children. But there are those who think they own this idea, this state of mind, this place and try to keep others out But when people believe that they and they alone hold the key to a dream is when the dream begins to die because this dream is not a birthright. It is the shared belief that working together we all rise above.

About The Band

Los Cenzontles (Nahuatl for “The Mockingbirds”) dig deep into Latino traditions to promote dignity, pride and cultural understanding. The group has pioneered revivals of Mexican roots music in California bringing traditions to new generations. The Mockingbirds now create a powerful new hybrid sound – creating a fresh Chicano voice for a new generation.

Fronting the group is the dynamic vocal dueto of Fabiola Trujillo and Lucina Rodriguez and sonero Hugo Arroyo . The Mockingbirds effortlessly mix electric bass and drums with traditional Mexican instruments – jarana, vihuela, requinto, pandero and quijada (jawbone) – creating a powerful contemporary sound infused with the gutsy soul of Mexico’s rural roots music.

The group’s core members also operate Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center in San Pablo, California. The Center has been training area youth in traditional Mexican music, dance, and crafts since 1994.

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