The good folks at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings continue to invest in nuestra cultura, and that’s a good thing. Accordion King Flaco Jimenez, and Bajo Sexto Master Max Baca have collaborated on a very special production, Legends and Legacies.
No doubt, there is a back story to this production as some of these are classic songs once recorded by Flaco’s dad, Santiago Jimenez, Sr. 70 years into his career, Flaco is among the legends of Tex-Mex, much like his father. For Baca, it is an opportunity to take his place as part of a legacy in the Tex-Mex genre having grown up as a part of Flaco’s musical family–even calling him a father figure in his life. And for listeners, we get the opportunity to enjoy some hard-core Tex-Mex conjunto music with some amazing button-acordeon from the legend and some of the most dexterous bajo sexto shredding from Baca.
A few songs are recorded in “fire-side” style–bajo, acordeon, and upright bass, such as the classic Margarita, Margarita, Me Voy Lejos, Mi Primer Amor, Los Amores de Jose, Jardin de las Flores, Morena Morenita, and a favorite, Beer-Drinking Polka.
When you add some drums to the mix, you get some powerful polkas rancheras, like Cada Vez Que Cae La Tarde, El Pesudo, Borradita Diente de Oro (The DC favorite), El Parrandero, the funny Brincando Cercas, and the even funnier La Viejita. La Nueva Zenaida and Ay Te Guacho Cucaracho will definitely be crowd favorites.
Cumbia lovers get the tried and true, La Mucura. The closer is another favorite, Fiesta Alegre.
And yes, in case you weren’t counting, that’s seventeen (17) tracks, which makes this production a lot more awesome than most. Seldom do we get this many classic tracks which are given the musical respect they deserve. Baca’s bajo sexto complements Flaco’s acordeon, and vice-versa. More than anything, it seems this duo is trying to school us on from where it is our music has come because it’s always good to come home to our roots. And to take from the liner notes”:
A common goal of Flaco and Max is to gain respect for their musical legacy beyond their Texas Mexican community while making the point that the roots traditions of all people deserve that same respect. “There’s a space for all kinds of music,” Flaco says, emphasizing that he respects other musics and the people who carry them on in the space where “les nace” (they are born). He is pleased that his efforts have led people of other cultures to play his music: “There are Japanese, Italian conjuntos. In Paris, too. They play well because they emulate the roots that we have here in San Antonio.”
Rounding out the studio line-up are Flaco’s son, David on the drums, and Texmaniac, Oscar Garcia on the bass.
NPR had a great report on the new production last week. Give it a listen. It’s good for those who need to be schooled on Tex-Mex conjunto music.
The new music is available at Itunes and directly from Smithsonian Folkways.