Son de Madera

Son de Madera

BandWorldLatin

For 20 years, Son de Madera has been the leading voice of Son Jarocho, the improvisatory, string-driven music of Veracruz, Mexico featuring the percussive zapateado dance style. Son de Madera preserves the son jarocho tradition with gusto while keeping it contemporary and relevant for our times.

Biography

Taking its name from the mountainous region of northwestern Mexico, Son de Madera specializes in Son Jarocho, the improvisatory, string-driven music of Veracruz, Mexico featuring jarana and requinto “guitars,” call-and-response singing, and the rhythmic zapateado percussive dance style. For 20 years, Son de Madera has preserved the traditions of son jarocho music while keeping it contemporary and relevant hundreds of years from its inception. As one of the genre’s greatest frontrunners, the quartet has successfully managed to take the indigenous-, Spanish- and African-inspired sounds from outside the humid Caribbean communities of its origins to a larger global audience.

Son de Madera serves as a model for others in its incorporation of the best of grassroots traditional musicians in their contemporary interpretations of jarocho repertoire. The group’s members are activists and educators as well as excellent representatives of the best of Veracruz and Mexican folklore.

Son de Madera’s prize-winning legacy began back in 1990, when Ramon Gutiérrez, inspired by his jarocho-playing brothers and generations of family musicians, formed the group alongside Laura Rebolloso. The band adapted tunes traditionally reserved for the “fandango” folk festivals in Veracruz and brought them to stages nationwide.

The string-driven jarocho genre has remained a vibrant force for centuries because of its improvisational nature. The guitar chords, the percussive footwork and the lyrics – sung in stanzas by a “pregonero” (caller) – are reinvented each performance according to the performer’s gusto.

Son jarocho’s beginnings start around the time of Spanish colonization. Veracruz communities absorbed the hints of Arabic culture found in the conquistadors’ song and dance, as well as musical influences from Africans enslaved in the coastal state during the 16th and 17th centuries. Near the end of the 1800s, jarocho music was formally recognized as a defining part of Mexico’s cultural identity.

The Mexican government co-opted son jarocho and other traditional folk music as national cultural symbols during the 1910 revolution. With the growth of Mexican film and television industries came the widespread diffusion of the folkloric in urban centers miles away from rural coastal pueblos.

The colonial music took a turn for the contemporary with Chicano rocker Ritchie Valens’ rendition of the jarocho classic “La Bamba” and his 1987 biopic of the same name. Mexican rock groups including Café Tacuba and Quetzal, plus the Los Angeles-based Los Lobos, have also produced popularized recordings of son jarocho hits.

Son de Madera’s latest release, “Son de Mi Tierra,” is a tribute to son jarocho’s pure and historical traditions, void of any musical fusions, electric instruments or outside impositions. What’s next for Son de Madera, however, might just be anything but that.

Son de Madera is composed by:

Ramón Gutiérrez Hernández – Vocals, guitarra de son

Ramon co-founded Son de Madera with Andrés Vega in 1992 after both musicians were in the group Mono Blanco, which had established the revivial of Son Jarocho in the 1970s. Ramón’s brother Gilberto Gutierrez continues to be a pivotal member of that group. In addition to performing with Son de Madera, Ramón Gutierrez is also a luthier.

Rubí Oseguera – Zapateado (percussive dancing)

An anthropologist with a focus on the fiesta of fandango: the dance, the dancers, and their social life. She founded the group Chuchumbé with her brother, and has also danced with the groups Siquisirí and Mono Blanco. She teaches zapateado dancing at home in Mexico and around the world.

Andrés “Tereso” Vega – Vocals, jarana

Co-founded Son de Madera in 1992 with Ramón Gutierrez. Both had been in the group Mono Blanco, which was a leader in the 1970s revival of Son Jarocho music. He is the son of Andrés Vega Delfin, now in his 70s and still performing with Mono Blanco, a highly respected master of the son jarocho tradition.

Federico Zúñiga – Bass

Based in San Jose, California, he performs many styles of music including jazz, salsa, funk, rock, Son Jarocho, blues, R & B, and bolero.

Discography

Son de Mi Tierra (Smithsonian Folkways) - 2009

Las Orquestas del Día (TonaLuna Productions) - 2004

Raíces (ABahuman Productions) - 2000

Son de Madera (URTEX Digital Classics) - 1997

Set List

Traditional songs from Mexico's son jarocho tradition, in particular from latest CD release, Son de Me Tierra, including:

La Bamba
Las Poblanas
Cascabel
Trompito