Los Cenzontles with David Hildago & Taj Mahal
Los Cenzontles Arts Center
You might think the only native Mexican music is the blaring Mariachi bands at Mexican restaurants and on Sabado Gigante. But there truly is more, and some of it is calm, pleasant, and the sort of stuff you could listen to for hours while sipping wine and chatting up your next girlfriend. Blues legend Taj Mahal teams up with Mexican roots music group Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds) and Los Lobos front man David Hildago to present a 15-song collection of new and traditional music suitable for relaxing and reminiscing or conducting a torrid affair. With a clattery collection of guitars, tambourines, keys, and mysterious flute-like wind instruments, their sound recalls a plaza on market day or the opening moments of an all-night fiesta. Vocals are clear and reassuring, and the extensive liner notes provide the lyrics in both Spanish and English.
Songs slide along like easy honky-tonk numbers, minus the dangerous imminent bar fight vibe. “Suenos” takes Mahal’s earthy vocals and intersperses them with a slicker, sexier female backing harmony. He returns for “One Hot Mama,” with its essential New Orleans style blues, but he’s an equal contributor in this project. Just as many songs lead with Mr. Hildago or the mysterious E. Rodriguez, who wrote most of the nontraditional compositions. All is good, and this music captures the heart of Mexico without resorting to the stereotypes that even traditionalists admit are a bit overwrought. This is the musical version of spicy crawfish tacos with a cold PBR on the side.
Los Cenzontles: www.loscenzontles.com