Concord Music Group News

NEWS 08 Mar 2010

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Review: Chieftains, Cooder merge music on new CD

By STEVEN WINE, Associated Press Writer

Monday, March 8, 2010

(AP) --

The Chieftains Featuring Ry Cooder, "San Patricio" (Hear Music/Concord Music Group)

"Riverdance" visits the Rio Grande on "San Patricio," an unlikely but likable merger of music from Ireland and Mexico.

The album tells the story of Irish immigrants who deserted the U.S. Army in 1846 to fight on the side of the Mexicans against the invading Yankees. Known as the San Patricio battalion, the immigrants were scorned in the United States, but they're remembered as heroes in Mexico.

The Chieftains bring history alive with their characteristic exuberance and grace, and a parade of guest artists help celebrate a confluence of musical genres. Ry Cooder, who co-produced with the Chieftains' Paddy Moloney, contributes an original ballad, and there are fine performances by singers Linda Ronstadt, Lila Downs and 92-year-old Chavela Vargas, among others.

Included are a lullaby and march, airs and reels from Ireland, as well as Mexican sones, boleros and canciones rancheras. Uilleann pipes give way to trumpets, and the bajo sexto alternates with the tin whistle.

The musical merger might seem like trying to fit a square peg through a round guitarron hole. But by the 19th and final cut, a joyful 5 1/2-minute medley, labels are forgotten and the styles of the two countries have become one.

CHECK THIS OUT: "El Caballo" is fusion at its finest, with verses in Spanish interspersed with frantic Irish fiddle breaks, all to a jumpy Mexican rhythm.

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