Sunday, June 21, 2009
Tejano Roots (3) : Don Santiago Jiménez Sr.
Don Santiago Jiménez Sr - Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio (buy) (1979)
Don Santiago Jiménez Sr - Viva Seguin (buy) (1942)
Don Santiago Jiménez Sr - Zulema (buy) (1979)
Don Santiago Jiménez Sr. is not only a great musician and Tejano conjunto pioneer, but he's the father of Flaco Jiménez, probably the biggest Tejano star, who mixed his father's style with country and jazz, and Santiago Jiménez Jr, who played in the traditional way.
Don Santiago was himself the son of an accordeonist, Patricio Jiménez, from Eagle Pass, Tx. Patricio was from this generation of Mexican musicians who borrowed polka, mazurka and waltz from the German-American musicians and mixed them with rancheras to create a wholly new sound.
Santiago made his first records in 1937, mostly polkas or waltzes, bringing innovations like the use of the small double bass called tololoche, combined with the 12-string bajo sexto. You can hear its distinctive flapping sound in each of the three tracks posted here.
For all his life, Santiago Jiménez kept to the 2-button accordion, even when the instrument became dated. The first and third track here are from a beautiful Arhoolie record he made in 1979 with his son Flaco on bajo sexto and Juan Viesca on the string bass. The first song, "Ay te dejo en San Antonio" was covered by Los Lobos in 1983.
Here's a video taken from Chulas Fronteras, a documentary on Tex-mex music shot by Les Blank in 1976. Most of the video features Flaco Jiménez and in the very end, you can see his father, playing his small accordion. Sadly the interview is cut off, but it is very interesting to hear the difference between father and son (and you get the grandson too).