Houston’s Powerhouse AVIZO is back with a new production in Mas Amigos. Avizo is a Houston-based Tejano big band headed up by Robert Dorantes which has gained in popularity as the back-up band for many legendary solo Onda Tejana vocalists. Horn-driven and precise while backing their usual lead vocalist Chris Quiroga, Avizo is also known for releasing great productions featuring those artists they back-up at concerts. And Mas Amigos is one of those productions.
Mas Amigos features legendary vocalists Jay Perez, David Marez, Ram Herrera, Joe Bravo, Jimmy Edward, Jessy Serrata, as well as “Q” Quiroga and Raquel Serenil.
Perez opens the set with the Emmanuel classic, Quiero Dormir Cansado. The powerful horns back-up Perez’s soaring vocals. The sax solos are especially smooth on this one. Ram Herrera then gives us another classic, Engelbert Humperdink’s After the Lovin’–en Español (Despues del Amor) and as a ranchera. Avizo’s horns, as well as the trumpet solo and jazzy ending takes us back, as Herrera takes us on a smooth-voiced journey. Perez returns on the next track, Tu Me Quemas, which seems to be the CDs first single. Avizo is precise and dead on on this ranchera as Perez soars through the chorus from lows to highs. So, thus far, the first three are designed to keep you on the dance floor.
After a couple of strong vocalists, the next track brings us a legend who more than likely influenced most Tejano crooners. Joe Bravo, aka El Playboy, comes in with what will be a radio/You Tube favorite, Pachanga Tejana. Bravo takes us through the track describing some of the onda’s legends and newer vocalists in what really is a Tejano party of a song. In between descriptions Avizo gives us a snippet of each mentioned performer’s signature tune. Here’s the YouTube of it for your enjoyment.
Avizo slows it down a bit on the next track with the old standard, Fallaste Corazon, performed quite nicely by another legend, Jimmy Edward. A tell-off to oneself (and ones own heart) after losing a girl because of his own misdeeds, the chorus is quite memorable:
“La vida es la ruleta en que apostamos todos/y a ti te habia tocado nomas la de ganar/pero tu buena suerta la espalda te ha volteado/Fallaste corazon no vuelvas apostar.”
Taking us back to an 80s remake of a classic, Avizo utilizes the talent of Jessy Serrata. An accomplished solo artist, Serrata was also the voice of Los Chachos, Bobby Naranjo y Direccion, TUFF Band, and of course, one of los Buenos Hermanos Serrata with brother Rene. Cuando Salgo A Los Campos brings back a lot of memories that are only compounded by an interlude that includes musical snippets of other Serrata classics, like Tu Vestido Blanco, Por Que Sera Que La Quiero, and Pa’ Todo El Año, further exhibiting Avizo’s musical chops and their appreciation of Tejano music history.
A favorite of this blogger is, still, another classic made popular “back in the day” by Carlos Guzman, Tus Ojos Castaños, which is aptly delivered by the duo of Jay Perez and David Marez. The horns are tight and the vocals are amazing. Jimmy Edward returns to deliver Reflejo, an accordian-driven ranchera which speaks to the suffering that men go through in their love for a woman: “No es facil ser hombre resistir mujeres, no tenemos culpa gozar sus plazeres…”
And if you thought that was enough on the classic side, Avizo vocalist Chris Quiroga and guest Raquel Serenil give us a nice version of After the Love is Gone–yes, the Earth, Wind and Fire classic. Only a horn-heavy band like Avizo can deliver some good old school R & B like this, including some great background vocals. Quiroga closes the CD with the Lionel Ritchie hit, Hello, and it’s not your regular version. This one has some sabor y salsa and keeps you moving and loving that horn section. Now, I want Lionel to re-record this track con sabor!
You can buy Mas Amigos at your favorite Tejano music store, or you can find it on Amazon.com and download it. And those who have read my previous reviews know, there’s something about supporting your local musicos who just happen to record on indie labels.
Que viva La Musica Tejana!Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on SomosTejanos.org