Betto Arcos, who hosts the music program Global Village on KPFK, recently joined Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz to talk about a batch of amazing new music from Mexico. Here are his picks:
On his debut CD, Ernesto Anaya offers a multifaceted interpretation of classic Mexican huapangos, as well as special arrangements of lesser-known huapango songs. The album offers a close-up look at this popular music style and its roots, and gives listeners a glimpse at the genre's musical diversity.
Eugenia Leon began her career in the 1970s, singing in groups that reflected anxiety toward the Mexican establishment during difficult times, but it wouldn't be long until she became a vocal star in her own right. In 1982, she made a name for herself as a soloist, with a repertoire that included compositions by young Mexican composers and reflected Brazilian and bolero influences.
"I'm not afraid of anything," Chavela Vargas said when, at 90, she asked Discos Corasón to coproduce this album with her. This living legend, who needs no introduction to Latin music followers — and who might bring to mind Edith Piaf for newcomers to this music — insisted upon two conditions before making this record. The first was that she should have artistic direction, deciding what to record and with whom to work. The second condition was that she should receive all funds from the sales of her records, including digital. "This will be 'my' record," she said. "I have made so many records, but none of them are mine."
Banda Regional Mixe
Banda Regional Mixe is an ensemble of musicians from the Mixe Mountains of Oaxaca. The group's latest recording is built around new compositions based on the traditional music of Oaxaca, along with new improvisational pieces in collaboration with the renowned American avant-garde musician Steve Brown.
The 16-piece band is directed by Leovigildo Martinez, and most of its members are young men and women, representing their rich cultural heritage as well as their potential for creating new musical landscapes. Their new compositions mix timeless sounds with new arrangements, establishing the new recording somewhere between the traditional music scene and the new avant-garde.