Anyone who is seriously into ranchera films (Mexican westerns) of the '50s, '60s, and '70s knows the name Antonio Aguilar; the actor/singer appeared in countless westerns in his day. Some connoisseurs of Mexican cinema have described Aguilar as a Mexican equivalent of John Wayne, which is an imperfect comparison because the Duke -- unlike Aguilar -- was not known for singing. But like Wayne, Aguilar was huge in his genre -- and Banda Jerez provide an enthusiastic tribute to him on Y Arriba Zacatecas: Homenaje a Don Antonio Aguilar. For Jerez, saluting Aguilar does not mean going out of their way to emulate his musical performances. In westerns, Aguilar was famous for mariachi -- it wasn't uncommon for Aguilar's characters to sing mariachi one minute and participate in a gunfight the next -- but there isn't a trace of mariachi to be found on this 39-minute disc. Jerez' forte is banda, and their neo-banda approach is as rowdy as it is exuberant. Jerez salute Aguilar on their own terms, giving "Animas Que No Amanezca," "El Caballo Blanco," "El Alazán y el Rocío," and other familiar songs a flavor that is modern (by 2006 standards) but certainly not oblivious to the past. Jerez are hardly the first banda artists who have embraced songs associated with Aguilar; the charismatic banda/mariachi star Ezequiel Peña, for example, has recorded excellent banda arrangements of "Animas Que No Amanezca" and "El Alazán y el Rocío," but Peña is more old-school in his outlook. Had Peña recorded a banda tribute to Aguilar, it would have sounded much different from this in-your-face project. One could even go so far as to say that Jerez are the banda equivalent of a punk band -- and just as the Ramones had no problem making '50s and early-'60s tunes relevant to punk, Jerez never sound the least bit dated on this fine homage to Aguilar.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson