Various Artists

The Rough Guide to the Music of Mexico

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There's only one problem with trying to encapsulate the music of Mexico onto one CD -- it's an impossible task. There's simply so much music that some things are inevitably left out. And however good the disc that's left (and this is very good), it's not complete. This, however, does an excellent job of moving between the traditional and the modern, and giving an overview of styles, as well as introducing international audiences to some staggering talent, be it the older fiddler Juan Reynoso, the eerie los Marineros de Apatzingan, or the younger, ska-influenced Salon Victoria. There are strong contrasts made between the urban and rural styles, nowhere more evident than on the Banda la Michoacana and Mariachi Reyes del Aserradero tracks. While there's a nod to norteño, there's no real corrido, and nothing from hugely influential artists like los Tigres del Norte or José Alfredo Jiménez, for example. However, that's quibbling. The bottom line is that this is a remarkably thoughtful compilation that largely moves off the beaten path of Mexican music to explore both roots and branches successfully, and includes some staggeringly good music (like Banda el Recodo de Don Cruz Lizarraga, guaranteed to amaze with their hyperspeed brass playing).

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