Various Artists

Explorer Series: Mexico - The Real Mexico in Music & Song

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Billed as the "Real Mexico," this is, in fact the real Michoacán, on the country's west coast, and home to the Purépecha Indians, although the population is really Indian and mestizo these days. And there are actually a small number of artists recorded for this -- but what artists! Las Hermanas Pulido appear on several tracks, three sisters with beautiful sororal harmonies, whether alone or backed by an unnamed mandolin orchestra (which also gets a couple of tracks of its own, with fascinating instrumental takes on a pair of songs, including a very French waltz). Guitarist Joaquin Bautista is a joy, and his playing is so eloquent that he doesn't need vocals, which is also true of blind harpist Teodulo Naranjo, whose playing almost literally sparkles on a couple of sons. The Apatzingán Ensemble are more rough and ready, but equally enjoyable. This is indeed a glimpse of the real Mexico, a world away from mariachi bands and sounds geared to appeal to tourists. But the sheer beauty of much of it is almost overwhelming at times. Fabulous stuff indeed.

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