Cuadernos de Mexico


About ten years ago Mariko Takahashi's interest in Frida Kahlo's works and life inspired Stefan Winter to investigate Mexico, and Mexican art and music. Both of them had the desire to discover the land of the painter Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, who are among the most famous people of DF (Mexico City) from the first part of the last century. The expressive Mexican images of the Italian photographer Tina Modotti, who lived with Man Ray in Mexico, were another reason to visit this wonderous country in between the USA border on the one side and Latin America on the other. So in March 2004 Mariko Takahashi, Stefan Winter, the graphic artist Günter Mattei and sound engineer Andrés Mayo visit Mexico to discover and to record its atmosphere, sound and music, and to make an audio film about Diego Rivera's fatherland. Everybody in this team has known each other well: – five years ago they were together in Cuba to produce the musical notebook "Cuadernos De La Habana"... At the beginning of 2004 Stefan Winter asks Andrés Mayo to get in contact with local musicians in Mexico. He gets to know Susana Harp, who is a wonderful singer with an incredible knowledge of the Mexican music scene. She lives in DF; the movie Frida Kahlo was shot in Susana's house,– and she is has also a home in Oaxaca. In her house, musicians and groups come together to play Mexican music: – "Colibrí", "Los Caminantes", the great singer "El Negro Ojeda" and of course Susana Harp and her own group. Susana puts Stefan Winter in contact with "Marimba Nandayapa", the most famous marimbaphone group in Mexico. "Marimba Nandayapa" performing the popular songs "Cielito Lindo" and "María Bonita" is the opening act – of this production: the overture. And with El Negro Ojeda the journey starts: he sings and tells his story about Mexico and Mexican music: »Ok! Let's go. Start recording! I want this to be recorded so that it's not forgotten. For horrible things are happening in this country, in the world. In this moment, when my country is going through a social crisis, I sing this song by a Mexican composer whose name is Salvador "Chava" Flores. He speaks of a rather idealized Mexico, but it's that vision of Mexico that sustains us, that keeps us going. If Mexico still exists as a country today, it's because of people like "Chava" who composed songs like that one ("Mi México"), to keep those of us alive with the sense that there can be a better Mexico! I think that now I should sing that song, because if I don't start singing deep emotions will overcome me... I want to be recorded, I want to record the feeling of Mexico and I want the true feeling of Mexico never to be forgotten.« "His" Mexico is alive. Street sounds, barrel organ players, banda music, police sirens, church bells: music, true music which is not well known outside of Mexico... The team is leaving Mexico City to go to the countryside: to Xalapa, Xico, Veracruz, Santiago Tuxtla, Jaltipan, Juchitan, Oaxaca, and then back to DF – Mexico City to record a very special selection of music and groups, to be part of all-night-long Fandango parties with typical Zapateado, to hear "Colibrí“, "Son de Madera“, Al Golpe del Guatimé", "Matanga", "Hikuri", the one-man-entertainer "Pancho Tina", the children's group "Gúugu Huíini" playing drum and flute music "like" the sounds heard in the carnival at Basel, Switzerland (RäDäBäng), "Los Camperchano", a musical family based in Santiago Tuxtla which never recorded before, the well-known group "Los Cojolites“, the wonderful singer "Che Dró" with his own compositions, the "Duo Xavizende" and the "Banda Musical Don Pepe". The trip started in Susana Harp's house and is ending in her house, with her own trio. This journey is a beautiful experience, an exciting discovery of many aspects of Mexican music. Cuadernos de Mexico – Mexican diaries: music that should never be forgotten, because this is a true music that is very hard to find in our Western world dictated by naked commerce.

 

 

-Stefan Winter

 

 

 

La Martiniana [Andrés Henestrosa]

 

Niña cuando yo muera

no llores sobre mi tumba

toca sones alegres mamá

cántame La Sandunga

 

 

Toca el bejuco de oro

la flor de todos los sones

canta la Martiniana mamá

que alegra los corazones

 

 

No me llores, no,

No me llores, no,

porque si lloras yo peno

en cambio si tu me cantas

yo siempre vivo

yo nunca muero

 

 

Si quieres que no te olvide

si quieres que te recuerde

toca sones alegres mamá

música que no muere

 


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