Nuevo Son Jarocho
Sisters Libby and Cindy Harding lead a supercharged band updating and reinvigorating the lively jarocho music of Veracruz, Mexico. Includes 'La Bruja,' 'El Cascabel,' 'El Siquisirí,' 'La Bamba' and more! Conjunto Jardín is the only Veracruz music group led by women, featuring the only known woman requinto player. Conjunto Jardín (cone-HOON-toe har-DEEN) features sisters Libby Harding on jarana, a small, strummed 8-string guitar, and Cindy Harding on requinto, a 4-string lead guitar played with a long pua or pick. Integral members of the Los Angeles family of Latin bands that includes Sabiá and Huayucaltía, Cindy and Libby have played jarocho music virtually all their lives, starting as children learning from and performing with their father, renowned Latin American scholar and harpist Tim Harding. Connecting the dots from Veracruz to Cuba and back to Africa is Marcel Adjibi from Benin, West Africa, on cajón, the wooden box drum originated by black slaves in the Americas. His surging crescendos and African vocal touches add a below-the-waist rhythmic sway that makes tangible what's often debated by scholars of son jarocho: the genre's African roots. ('La Bamba' was written by an African ex-slave in the 1800s.) Other indigenous percussion -- quijada, or donkey jawbone, and pandero, an octagonal tambourine -- is provided by Sabiá veteran Gary Johnson, when he's not coaxing out of his sampling keyboard the complex, driving lines traditionally played on Mexican folk harp. Rick Moors' electric bass often seems to bridge Mexican and African traditions, while the band's newest member, Chiapas, Mexico native Jorge Mijangos, contributes vocals, jarana and leona (baritone requinto). Also a master luthier, Jorge has constructed many of the band's instruments. Many Conjunto Jardín shows also feature elegantly costumed virtuoso dancers Luis and Maritonia Garcia of the Club Veracruzano de California, masters of the region's electrifying and percussive zapateado dance style. The group's new CD, Floreando (Flowering), has received uniformly excellent reviews and is residing in the top 10 on CMJ's Latin Alternative airplay chart. It was inspired by Conjunto Jardín's 2001 trip to Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, Mexico, to participate in the annual son jarocho extravaganza Encuentro de Jaraneros. It attempts to bridge the gap between the two principal schools of jarocho music, combining the rhythmic drive and virtuosic sparkle associated with the port city of Veracruz with the roots-oriented and percussion-flavored style typical of the region's rural areas. Conjunto Jardín has been nominated for Best Latin/Salsa Artist in the L.A. Weekly Music Awards 2003. Putumayo World Music's 2001 compilation Music of Mexico features 'La Bruja' from Conjunto Jardín's well-received first CD, Nuevo Son Jarocho (1998 Trova Recordings). Part of a resurgence of interest in jarocho music gathering momentum on both sides of the border, Conjunto Jardín is on the California Arts Council Touring Program roster, and is also a CAC Multicultural Artist Program grant recipient.