Quetzal – Great Music from LA – Son Jarocho from Veracruz / Mexico – Played with Jarana and Requinto

In the youtube channel of Smithsonian Folkways I have discovered some videos with a group named Quetzal. I was immediately fascinated by the music of Quetzal, and so I want to present those videos here.

In those videos you can see a number of Mexican pucked strings instruments, but I am not completely sure which instruments are really played in those videos. The instruments are most probably the instruments from the region of Veracruzin Mexico, similar to jarana jarocha and guitarra de son / requinto jarocho – you can find descriptions of those instruments in the Atlas of Plucked Instruments.

I have found the following information about Quetzal in wikipedia:

The band was founded by Quetzal Flores, with the intention of pushing the boundaries of Chicano music and is currently one of Los Angeles’ most important and successful groups. They play a mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music, supercharged by the dynamic vocals of the singer Martha Gonzalez. Their commitment to using art as a tool for social change is informed and inspired by global grassroots movements. They have also been instrumental in developing Fandango Sin Fronteras, a dialog between Chicanos from California and Jarochos (musicians from Veracruz, Mexico).


I have also found the following information about  the Son Jarocho:

Son Jarocho is a traditional musical style of Veracruz, a Mexican state along the Gulf of Mexico. It evolved over the last two and a half centuries along the coastal portions of southern Tamaulipas state and Veracruz state, hence the term jarocho, a colloquial term for people or things from the port city of Veracruz. It represents a fusion of indigenous (primarily Huastecan), Spanish, and African musical elements, reflecting the population which evolved in the region from Spanish colonial times. Lyrics include humorous verses and subjects such as love, nature, sailors, and cattle breeding that still reflect life in colonial and 19th century Mexico. Verses are often shared with the wider Mexican and Hispanic Caribbean repertoire and some have even been borrowed from famous works by writers of the Spanish “Siglo de Oro”. It is usually performed by an ensemble of musicians and instruments which collectively are termed a “conjunto jarocho”.[1]

The instruments most commonly associated with Son Jarocho are the jarana jarocha, a small guitar-like instrument used to provide a harmonic base, with strings arranged in a variety of configurations; the requinto jarocho, another small guitar-like instrument plucked with a long pick traditionally made from cow-horn, usually tuned to a higher pitch and with a four or five thick nylon strings; the arpa jarocha, and sometimes a minor complement of percussion instruments such as pandero(especially in the style of Tlacotalpan), cajón and quijada (an instrument made of a donkey or horse jawbone).[2] Son Jarocho is often played only on jaranas and sung in a style in which several singers exchange improvised verses called décimas, often with humorous or offensive content. The most widely known son jarocho is “La Bamba”, which has been popularized through the version by Ritchie Valens and the American movie of the same name. Other famous sones jarochos are “El Coco” and “La Iguana” and “El Cascabel”, all of which have a call and response form, and “El Chuchumbé”, “La Bruja”.

Quetzal Performs “Estoy Aqui” at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival


“Todo Lo Que Tengo (All That I Have)” by Quetzal from “Imaginaries”

Estoy Aqui – Quetzal

“Imaginaries” by Quetzal from the Smithsonian Folkways album “Imaginaries”

Playlist Quetzal

Additional Information

NPR – Quetzal on Mountain Stage: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98329470

Wikipedia about Son Jarocho: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_Jarocho

Atlas of Plucked Instruments – North America and Mexiko: http://www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/n_america.htm

Website of the band CONJUNTO TENOCELOMEH with further information about the Son Jarocho: http://www.sonjarocho.com/

Podcasts with Son Jarocho: http://jarochelo.com/

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