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La Bamba: Sones Jarochos from Veracruz

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Album Review

The title track from Smithsonian Folkways' La Bamba: Sones Jarochos From Veracruz is the instantly recognizable Mexican folk song (originally from the early 1800s) made popular in the '50s by Ritchie Valens, but here it is transported back to its roots as a son jarocho (a type of lively rural folk song from Veracruz). Chiming harp melodies rolling over bright percussion construct this singularly unique sound, led by the skilled hands of harpist Felipe Ochoa and the lively vocals of "caller" José Gutiérrez Ramón. The songs are almost exclusively romantic in nature, as this recording avoids the more humorous boasting or taunting of sones jarochos, leaving the listener with beautifully poetic passages like "Little bird, you are pretty and of a pretty color/But you would be even prettier if you would do me the favor of taking a little piece of paper to the woman who owns my love." Anyone who has decided that traditional music is stuffy, dusty, or does not apply to modern-day living should be required to listen to this spectacular, vibrant, and life-affirming album.

La Bamba: Sones Jarochos from Veracruz, José Gutiérrez & Los Hermanos Ochoa
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