Friday, March 30, 2012
Introducing Oscar Hernandez
From what I've been able to gather, Oscar Hernandez was born in Pharr, Texas (he still lives here and gives accordion lessons). His name is spelled two different ways, sometimes it's spelled "Oskar" and other times it's spelled "Oscar". Not sure what is the actual correct spelling but I'm going to refer to him as "Oscar" in this piece. When he was a kid, he already had his own band here in the Valley.
The one thing that sets him apart from other conjunto musicians is the type of accordion he uses. In conjunto music, most accordionist used the three row button diatonic accordion. On the other hand, Hernandez prefers to use the five row chromatic accordion. By the age of 13 years old, he was already recording music with his own conjunto.
His first band that got him a lot of attention was Oscar Hernandez y Los Profesionales. He would go on to join the legendary Conjunto Bernal in the 1960's. While there, he encouraged and convinced Bernal to also use a chromatic accordion. Together they created some absolutely beautiful dual accordion music. Hernandez is rumored to have played lead accordion in some of their most well known tunes like Odiame and El Preso Numero 9.
During the 1960's, Hernandez and Esteban Jordan created "Would You Believe", a fantastic jazzy number on an Jordan Brothers album called La Bamba. At some point, Hernandez also recorded a chromatic version of the TV theme of "I Dream of Jeannie" on an obscure 45 vinyl! Hernandez is also credited with playing with Fabuloso 4 and his Tuff Band. Among his peers, he's considered one of the greatest accordion players ever.
Here are some Hernandez songs and videos to check out. They are all pretty great and a good introduction to one of the greatest musicians South Texas has ever produced:
This track it titled "Homenaje a Paulino Bernal" (Homage to Paulino Bernal):
Oscar Hernandez (chromatic accordion) and Esteban Jordan (diatonic button accordion) creating a beautifully trippy and jazzy tune:
Oscar Hernandez and Paulino Bernal putting together a dazzling number:
Hernandez totally shredding on the chromatic, playing a great polka called "Pantalones" (Pants):
Oscar Hernandez, Juan Tejeda, and Joel Guzman having a fantastic jam session in San Benito:
Oscar Hernandez y the Tuff Band (which features Jesse Serrata as the vocalist) doing a cover of "Yesterday" from The Beatles:
Oscar Hernandez on his classic Playing with Myself album: