Various Artists

Arhoolie Presents American Masters, Vol. 4: 15 Tex-Mex Conjunto Classics

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One of Arhoolie's specialities has always been Tejano (or Tex-Mex or conjunto if you prefer). Here, the best 15 representatives of the genre from the Arhoolie release archives are presented as Vol. 4 of the Arhoolie American Masters series. As would be expected, the Jimenez family takes up over a quarter of the album, but that's a good thing here. Flaco opens the album with the title track from his Ay Te Dejo album, and Conjunto Bernal follows with a bit of a polka. Lydia Mendoza stands in as the queen of Tejano (surprisingly instead of Eva Ybarra), and Flaco's brother Santiago takes a turn on the accordion. The patriarch of the Jimenez lineage, Don Santiago, follows his son with the old "Zulema," and is followed in turn by Los Pavos Reales and the old standard "Tony de la Rosa." Valerio Longoria performs the old classic "El Canonero" (made perhaps more popular by Los Super Seven much later). Los Pinguinos del Norte and Juan Lopez each contribute a track (the former from the old Chulas Fronteras video), and Fred Zimmerle adds one as well. The old recordings of Narciso Martinez are added to the lineup, and Santiago Jimenez adds his accordion to the sounds of Los Cenzontles, maintaining the Jimenez stranglehold on the genre. Steve Jordan tosses one in, and the album closes with its opener and star, Flaco Jimenez again, this time from his earliest recordings. Tejano recordings are easily come by in recent years given the deeper appreciation of roots music in general, but this album makes a fine addition to anyone's collection. With the archives of Arhoolie behind it, the selections promise to be among the best, and the diversity in time and nuance of style give the introductory listener a good deal to listen to for future purchases. If you're only going to hear one Tex-Mex album this year, this is quite possibly the one to hear.

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