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The roots of conjunto music (like its cousin tejano ) are broad, long, and deep. The epicenter of this music lies in Mexico, with its regional and social varieties and its fully evolved assembly of song styles. The musical traditions of Southern Texas and of Northern Mexico have drawn the muse from not Mexicanos, but also from their Anglo-and African-Americans and Eastern European immigrant neighbors like the Czechs, Bohemians, Poles, and Moravians as well as the Germans and Italians. The German constituents of this melting pot introduced the accordion aggressively marketing the versatile squeeze boxes to the border people.
Accordionist Flaco Jimenez has for 50 years been one of the greatest exponents of accordion-fueled conjunto music. Following his introduction to the Anglo market by Ry Cooder as a member of Cooder’s Chicken Skin Music band, Señor Jimenez has be requested by everyone from Dwight Yoakam to Bob Dylan to Linda Ronstadt (a Latina of this border heritage) back to Buck Owens. His credentials are well beyond question. On Squeeze Box King Señor Jimenez proves why.
Resisting any temptation to infuse pop music into his recording, Señor Jimenez offers us an unadulterated hearing of the same conjunto accordion music his father, Don Santiago Jimenez was clamed to have started. This is a collection of polkas, boleros, Tex-Mex rancheras and Tex-Mex boleras, all music immediately danceable and wafting with exuberance. The disc begins properly with "En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza" ("There Is No Beer in Heaven"), a song recognizable in any language, whether English, Spanish, Polish, or Czech. Raul Rubio’s vocals are as authentic as tequila, tender when necessary ("Soy Romantico"), rollicking always ("La Tormenta").
Very much a family oriented player, Señor Jimenez is joined by David Jimenez and Arturo Jimenez, unifying the conjunto generation gap. The rest of the band is tight and perform perfectly. Squeeze Box King is a full-service musical experience deserving not to be categorized, but listened to and enjoyed. Music like this transcends all.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...