COMMENTS

Russell C. Rodríguez
April 5, 2011

My first interaction with Maestro Zamarripa was in 1975 when he came to teach at the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos in San Jose, California. Even though I was a naïve 12 year old with only three years experience dancing, he left a deep impression as a teacher and as a very generous man. Since then I have attended workshops in the United States and Mexico taught by Zamarripa, who was consistently encouraging to me and others to invest in the practice of folklórico dance and me personally to take serious my engagement with Mexican folk music.

The aural vision for this documentary project was obvious. “Traditional” Mexican folk music offers a wonderful diversity of moods and sentiments that provide the most appropriate soundscape in this telling of folklórico dance history through Zamarripa’s perspective. In this project I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with many inspirational musicians who have influenced my knowledge on Mexican expressive culture in the same manner that Maestro Zamarripa has. People like Artemio Posadas, Ramón Gutiérrez Hernández, and Juan Reyes Rodríguez, along with many other Mexicana/o and Chicana/o musicians, have taught me many things about Mexican folklore and music in general. I am grateful to all those who have contributed to the interpretations of sones, jarabes and other forms of music that inform this documentary.

Along with traditional selections, original music by Ramón Gutiérrez, Juan Reyes, Sergio Gutiérrez, Chris González Clarke, and myself were integrated to establish different ambiances for this story.

 

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What a pleasure to have so many talented musicians--such as Juan Jose Diaz, Juanito Diaz, Abigail Torres, local mariacheros from the San Jose Area; master harpist Sergio Alonso of the famed Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, who provided various tracks and variations of the theme song Polino Guerrero; blues artist Hook Herrera on the harmonica --come over to my home and record on various selection. Juan Reyes, who in addition to sharing original compositions also provided some exciting arrangements for us to use. While I truly enjoyed recording Mexican folk music, it was a welcomed challenge to write the piece La Tormenta, with Chris González Clarke, to represent the Chicano Movement of the 1970s. The music of groups like Malo, Sapo, Azteca, El Chicano, and of Santana fulfilled a needed sense of representation for Latinos within the mainstream. They left an important sonic legacy that we tried to emulate in this original piece. The other thematic selection Son del Barrio was an intentional hybrid that I wrote in the late 1990s while working with the Chicano band Los Otros. At this time I was developing a relationship with popular rock music and stepping away from performing Mexican folk music. The song represents this transition of knowledge, which brings the two styles of music together as a son mariachera played with a lead electric guitar.

The experience of working on a project so close to my heart with my mentor Olga Nájera-Ramírez, and with Marc Ramos and Bob Gliner was truly educational and pleasurable. I believe offers a glimpse of what we experienced as folklóricos and why folklórico matters.