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CD REVIEW:Tara Linda and Luna Nueva
By Don Sechelski - 12/20/2008 - 11:24 AM EST

Artist: Band:Tara Linda and Luna Nueva
Album: Tara Linda and Luna Nueva
Label: Tara Linda Productions
Genre: Cojunto, Tex-Mex, World
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Mal Hombre, The Siren, Sigue Adelante
CD Review:

In the mid to late 1800's, there was a boom of immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europeans settling in South Texas and Northern Mexico. My Polish grandparents were part of that immigration wave and settled in Grimes County, Texas. These immigrants introduced the accordion and ethnic Eastern European folk music and Cojunto music was born. The accordion became an integral part as the European folk songs blended with Mexican folk music, blues, American fiddle music, swing, R&B, and later, Rock and Roll. Although it mainly stayed localized in south Texas and Los Angeles, Cojunto developed its own pantheon of stars and legends such as Lydia Mendoza and Beto Vila. Here's an excellent website that includes audio samples of Cojunto music:

Dedicated to the legend of Lydia Mendoza, Tara Linda and Luna Nueva have released a very accessible and enjoyable CD that serves as an excellent introduction to Cojunto music. With this self titled effort, Tara Linda and Nueva Luna have continued the tradition of Cojunto as a growing and ever changing music force. Tara Linda sings lead vocal and provides percussion on most songs and her love for this music is evident in her passionate delivery. She is joined by accordion master, Gilbert Reyes, a tireless promoter of Cojunto and Tex-Mex music. Cojunto star, Layo Jimenez plays the Bajo Sexto, a basic element of Cojunto that is similar to a 12 string bass guitar. Other players include producer Matt Erich on wind, Jeff Hobbs on Violin and Cornet, and Pete Hernandez on Bajo Sexto. Reyes, Jimenez, and Hernandez trade instruments on some songs but the basic lineup remains the same.

This CD is a blend of classic Cojunto tunes such as Mal Hombre and Amor Bonito and contemporary Cojunto tunes penned by Tara Linda, Gilbert Reyes, and Layo Jimenez. The opening song El Diabolito y Su Accordeon, is a Cojunto take-off on all those fiddling devil songs told in the form of a children's story. Tara Linda's vocal shines on Sigue Adelante and Hobb's violin blends perfectly with Reyes' accordion. The result is a swirling blend where the European folk elements and Latin rhythms create a sound that is at once familiar and exotic. Amor Mio is a classic tex-mex two step that had me up and dancing. The haunting Lydia Mendoza tune, Mal Hombre, comes to life with Reyes strumming the Bajo Sexto. Tara Linda's rich sultry vocal pays wonderful homage to the legend, Lydia Mendoza. Hobbs doubles on the cornet and violin and adds the spice that makes the dish complete. I listened to this song over and over. Reyes comes back on Bajo Sexto with Tara Linda on vocal for The Siren, an original by Linda and Reyes. This song eliminates any doubt that Cojunto is a growing thriving musical form.

If you are already a devotee of cojunto, Tara Linda and Luna Nueva is a must. If you're not familiar with Cojunto but are curious and would like a tasty introduction, this is a great place to start. 

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