Friday, September 5, 2014

CD Review - José "El Patrullero" Moreno - El Fidelero Del Valle‏


Don José Moreno is incredible. The people that know him, like folks who have worked at the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center (where Moreno has taught) in San Benito and various local musicians, are aware of how great he is. To those of you that aren't, I hope you give him a chance, because he's a brilliant, original musician that resides here in the Rio Grande Valley.

This is eighteen-track album presents the uncommon yet wonderful music of Don José Moreno.

The crown jewel of this collection is Moreno's instrumental vals interpretation of Agustín Lara's "Maria Bonita". Lara composed this beautiful piece for his then wife, Mexican cinema superstar María Félix during their honeymoon. Other quality musicians have covered this tune before, including Paulino Bernal who crafted a spectacular polka version of it on the accordion. Moreno's take — with the violin delicately leading the way, Amado Banda on the bajo-sexto, and Mark Rubin on the tololoche  — is every bit as genuine and romantic as the original cancion. This is enchanting no matter how many times I listen to this.

Other forms of music found on this release include polka, huapango, redova, and son matachin. Moreno brings so many neat touches to many of these piezas. For three tracks, Moreno uses a mandolin, which sounds whimsical in a polka titled "Patricia Erika".

There is only one track with singing, and it's at the tail-end of this release. It happens to be the famous anthem "El Corrido De Gregorio Cortez". It's a ballad on Cortez, who became a folk hero after he shot Karnes County sheriff W.T. "Brack" Morris to defend himself and his brother Romaldo in 1901. No violin or mandolin here as Moreno decides to show us that he's quite capable when it comes to the accordion. I'm glad this was included as it reveals how versatile Moreno is.

The CD comes with a booklet that features a nice two-page biography on Moreno that is credited to David Champion and Ramon de Leon. The notes mention that Moreno recorded for various labels like Charro, RyN, Triple E, and Chief. It gives me hope that I'll be able to track down some more rare Moreno gems at some point in my life. So far, all I have of Moreno is this CD, and Mi Manzanita, an out of print album collaboration between Moreno and Santiago Jimenez, Jr. that I found at Novedades Martinez in Pharr earlier this year. When I took it up to the cashier to purchase, even he was surprised that they had it in stock.

This fantastic release from Arhoolie Records succeeds in capturing the soul of a unique, one of a kind musician. When I take trips across the Rio Grande Valley, this is one CD I always carry with me. I can't even estimate how many times I've listened to this entire album. Moreno staying true to this style of music throughout the decades should be counted on as a blessing to any fan of regional music.

Available for purchase at http://www.arhoolie.com. Also streaming for free at Spotify.

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