Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Tejano Roots (4) : Valerio Longoria
Valerio Longoria - El Canoero (buy) (1989)
Lisandro Meza - Cumbia Pa'Oriente (buy)
Valerio Longoria - Pasa Tiempo (buy)(1963)
Valerio Longoria & Freddy Fender - Escarcha (buy)(1963)
Valerio Longoria (1924-2000, see his bio here) was an innovator in many many ways for Tejano conjunto. He was one of the first to sing while playing, and to do so while standing up on stage. He added new instruments to the traditional ensemble like a set of drums or the saxophone and bass guitar; he could repair his instrument and manipulate new sounds (by adding an extra row of buttons, by altering reeds and bass stops), an ability that made him, as AMG says "a Les Paul of the accordion".
He also added a lot of new genres to his repertoire, and especially "tropical" music styles like cuban bolero and cumbia from Colombia. The first song posted here, "El Canoero", recorded with his sons on bass and saxophone, is a typical cumbia, a genre originating in Columbia, as you can hear in the next track, "Cumbia Pa'Oriente" (by Colombian singer Lizandro Meza).
The next 2 songs are Cuban boleros, the first tropical genre to be recorded by traditional musicians both sides of the Mexican-American border (see my post about Lydia Mendoza). The second one is sung by hispanic country star Freddy Fender.
The appropriation of these styles brought a more sophisticated tone to Tejano music.
PS : For those who speak Spanish, two great articles about Mexican cumbia here (from a lecture by Mexican scholar José Juan Olvera) and here (a Wikipedia article about Mexican cumbia)
And you know what ? It definitely makes me want to get deeper into Latin music, so I'll post again about it, maybe going South from Texas to Mexico, and then South again.