Various Artists

Native Music of Northwest Mexico: Tarahumara Warihio Mayo

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A special exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix enabled a group of musicians from the Tarahuymara, Mayo, and Warihio tribes to travel to Arizona for a series of performances, recorded by the superb Canyon label. This album is an early entry in that company's extensive documentation of native music of the Americas, and it is an overwhelming listening. Recorded sound is fantastic, accomplishing the often exaggerated claim of turning one's listening room into an exotic environment. The blend of cultures that created this music is fascinating in itself. It is a kind of a ragtag pastiche of Indian and Spanish traditions, played on any and all available instruments. Traditional native soundmakers such as the flutes, drums, rasps, and rattles are here in full force, along with the violins, guitars, and harps that came with the Spaniards and found their way into every kind of Mexican ensemble from mariachi to conjunto. Only a harp solo is not part of a dance presentation as well, so that some of the sounds heard are in reaction to dancers' movements. The way the violinists play in their ensembles should be a great thrill to anyone who enjoys expansive tuning practices, and the rhythms are brilliant.

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