Latino: Mariachi

Los Diamantes

WINNERS OF THE norteño festival put on by Radio Fiesta in Tucson last year, Los Diamantes had only been together about a year or so. Now they can add this award to their mantel. Pretty impressive for a group of players only 17- to 19-years-old.

Spokesperson Enrique Garcia was singing and playing bass in another band when he decided to put his own together. He picked up the accordion, practiced, put the word out that he needed band members for a new norteño group and took less experienced players to the point where they are now--about to record a new CD.

This summer they're going to California to record for the Musivida label. Along with some norteño standards they're including originals by Garcia and others in the band on the upcoming album.

Los Diamantes still play the boleros, quebraditas and cumbias drawn from the roots of the music popular to so many of Mexican heritage in the border states, but favor a more modern repertoire than one that includes redobas and polkas.

Like many of the norteño songs, theirs are about love, lost love--the usual subject for a good song. But even with the tunes they dig out from old repertoires, the less well-known but worthy ones, they work to make them "sound like us." That sound is more electrified than a lot of other norteño bands, and they probably have more horns than the usual ensemble.

Generally, norteño music tends to be more traditional than that of grupos, but much of the really traditional norteño, mostly instrumental, has been lost or at the least largely altered. Even with the heavy electronic influence in Los Diamantes' instrumentation, they still use the bajo sexto, the traditional twelve string guitar that uses the top two strings like a bass.

And unlike Tex-Mex, where the horns can sound like a Latinized version of the punctuated, funky horn sections of Chicago or Earth, Wind and Fire, Los Diamantes' saxes most often back up the accordion's melody in tight unison or well-rehearsed harmony.

With some of the band members still in high school, you would think they couldn't gig too much. One member even comes down from Northern Arizona University each weekend to play. Somehow, though, Los Diamantes makes it to a great number of weddings, clubs and concerts--like this year's Phoenix Cinco de Mayo Festival where they played in the company of Little Joe and Pedro Fernandez.

They'd like to get used to playing for 5,000 people like that and hope the CD will be that next important step in achieving the goal. Touring is bound to follow for Enrigue Garcia (leader and accordion player), Miguel Oros, (percussion and electric conga), Jesus Enriquez (alto sax), Luis Espinoza (tenor and alto sax), Carlos Lukez (drums), Carlos Alvarez (bass), and Enrique Borboa (bajo sexto).
--Janice Jarrett

Igalles De Norte

IT WAS JUST A hobby for some high school kids when the members of Igalles de Norte got together about three years ago to play norteño music. It wasn't too long before they got hooked and started playing for weddings, parties, quinceaneras and then festivals, and finally out of town gigs all over Arizona.

In an amazingly short time they were good enough to win a norteño festival (1993, Greyhound, Battle of the Bands). They won some recording time in a studio, a prize that has moved them closer to their goal of recording a new album. (Their first tape on Joey Records is available at Yolis Music Shop.)

Even though Igalles de Norte is trying to gig less for the present (in preparation for recording of the CD), it's worth a call to leader, accordion player, and singer, Rogerio Carbajal at 741-8519 or 889-0155 if you want the full band, with Aaron Moreno (bajo sexto), Luis Gastelun (drums), Luis Romo, (bass), Omar Carbajal (second voice), and Jesus Salazar (percussion) to get you dancing.
--Janice Jarrett


© 1995 Tucson Weekly