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El Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan

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Longstanding Mexican group Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan was formed in 1898 in the town of Tecalitlan by Gaspar Vargas, Manuel Mendoza, and by two violinists. In December of 1934, the group traveled to the capital of Mexico to be present at the induction ceremony of President Lazaro Cardenas, and acted as the city's official Mariachi band. Three years later, Mariachi Vargas appeared in Asi Es Mi Tierra (the first of almost 200 movies) and recorded their first record. Over the next 35 years, they recorded dozens of albums of pasodobles, valses, bailables, polkas, and danzones. In 1973, the death of frequent contributor Jose Alfredo Jimenez, one of the greatest composer/vocalists of ranchera music, marked the end of an era. The band continued in its evolution, accompanying the vocalist and composer Juan Gabriel in his first recordings and introducing new and significant forms of expression in Mariachi music. In 1976, Pepe Martinez assumed the musical direction of Mariachi Vargas. Martinez' compositions display a mastery of rhythms and original arrangements that spotlights every musician in the group like a soloist, making the era around their centennial anniversary one of the group's strongest periods. ~ Zac Johnson

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