Joe Flores

En El Progreso: El Avileno, Vol. 2

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A beat as sharp as something to emerge from a Swiss watch factory is only one of the many attractions of this early-'60s slab of norteño. The entire production, like many of this artist's sides from this era, sizzles like lard awaiting a dollop of refried beans. A few musicians are shown posing with the bandleader on the back cover, but it couldn't be the whole conjunto unless they each have another set of arms hidden behind their back -- or at least it sounds that way sometimes. The drumming is marvelous on "El Troquero," including a smack on a muffled snare drum that is deliciously undermixed. Guitar can be either electric or acoustic, in the latter case loosely shadowing the central beat as if wanting to sell the services of a guide to a tourist who has just crossed the border. Several of the songs are classics, including the hilarious "Contrabando del Paso" and the swaggering "El Ultimo Puno de Tierra." Others are the type of ranchera best heard when one is nearly falling down "boracho" in the cantina. Flores himself contributes several moving ballads, the accordion swirling around the light layers of shifting percussion. His "Mi Secreto" has such a smooth, slow tempo that it almost seems to be moving in slow motion. The bandmembers who are named, although not identified as to instrument, include the brothers Valenzuela and Vicente Gomez and Ramon Escovaza.

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