Conjunto Jardin Recordings:
Yerba Buena Floreando Nuevo Son Jarocho
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Yerba Buena album cover
Conjunto Jardín
Yerba Buena

Son jarocho describes the vital and energetic Mexican folk music from the state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. The third album from the Harding sisters and their band Conjunto Jardín – the name is a play on the Spanish pronunciation of Libby and Cindy’s last name – continues the driving rhythms, sparkling harp-and-requinto interplay and trademark sibling vocals that characterized the group’s first two efforts. But this time, many more influences are brought into the mix, resulting in new sounds, textures and arrangements.

A scant few years ago the sacrilege of combining the quena (reed flute) and zampoñas (bamboo panpipes) – Andean instruments! – with son jarocho would have been unthinkable. But Cindy particularly is an accomplished Andean musician, and sometimes the jarocho world cries out for more tone colors.

And an accordion-driven version of the traditional son jarocho “El Ahualulco” in Colombian vallenato style? Hitherto unconsidered. Yet, after encountering groups in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz in 2001 incorporating harmonica into son jarocho, keyboardist/accordionist Gary Johnson saw that it was not exactly a leap to its cousin, the squeezebox.

The traditional “Fandanguito” gets a taut, emotion-charged treatment before transforming into an Afro-Cuban setting of Libby’s “Para Mis Muertos,” a poignant yet danceable montuno honoring those who are gone but not forgotten.

Conjunto Jardín’s Latin Americanized version of Procol Harum’s “Conquistador” is already a big hit with the members of Procol and their friends and families, having appeared on a 2004 tribute album issued by the band’s website.

Multi-instrumentalist, singer and instrument maker Jorge Mijangos and bassist Rick Moors make their usual sterling contributions, while the percussion duties are split between Marcel Adjibi (El Capitán), who during the recording of this album moved to Texas, veteran Peruvian cajonero Gino Gamboa (El Obispo), and old friend Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas of Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez’ band.

Being based in the U.S., Conjunto Jardín is perhaps constrained by fewer rules than their counterparts in Mexico. And just as on 2003’s Floreando they were not afraid to join the lively sparkle of the Veracruz port style with the more roots-oriented approach of the movimiento jaranero, this third collection shows no fear and recognizes no sacred cows.

Libby says: “When we were in Tlacotalpan in 2001, several viejitos [older musicians] came up to us after we played and complimented us on our ‘inovaciones’ [innovations]. That made a big impression. We hope we can continue to carry forward this wonderful tradition and even extend it, hopefully into new areas that stimulate the growth and diffusion of the music as a whole.”

At the mixing controls once again was Larry Hirsch, known for his work with Los Lobos, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Peruvian composer/producer Ciro Hurtado (Huayucaltía) engineered the recording, while also contributing on guitar to the “Latin Americanized” arrangement of Procol Harum’s 1971 hit “Conquistador.”

Conjunto Jardín’s first release, Nuevo Son Jarocho (1998), got excellent notices and radio play; its track “La Bruja” was featured onPutumayo World Music’s 2001 compilation Music of Mexico. The group’s second release, Floreando (2003), received even more acclaim and lodged in the top 10 of the CMJ World Music airplay chart for several weeks in 2003.

Conjunto Jardín was nominated for Best Latin/Salsa Artist in the 2003 L.A. Weekly Music Awards, and is the recipient of an L.A. Treasures Award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

(2003, Trova Recordings) is the second CD release from Conjunto Jardín. Inspired by the group’s 2001 trip to Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, Mexico, to participate in the annual son jarocho extravaganza Encuentro de Jaraneros, the new CD combines the rhythmic drive and virtuosic sparkle associated with the port city of Veracruz with the more rural, roots-oriented and percussion-flavored style typical of Mono Blanco, Son de Madera and Los Cojolites, Veracruz groups prominent in the current resurgence of jarocho music.

From the first notes of the opening track – “El Colás,” a typically irreverent jarocho classic about a flirty guy – there’s a definite groove going on that’s a little different from what one might expect. The upbeat, driving “El Torito” (The Little Bull) will satisfy fans of the previous album, Nuevo Son Jarocho, and its medley-mate “El Toro Zacamandú” (The Magic Bull) percolates with energy. But the CD’s real surprise is in the slower tracks – the restrained, hypnotic chant of “El Coco” and, especially, “La Guanábana,” with its deliberate build-up and release that echos the song’s lyrics of yearning sexuality.

At the mixing controls once again was Larry Hirsch, known for his work with Los Lobos, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Peruvian composer/producer Ciro Hurtado (Huayucaltía) engineered the recording, while also contributing an evocative guitar solo on the Afro-Peruvian-influenced “La Guanábana.” See reviews for Floreando here.

CMJ Chart 1 CMJ Chart 2 CMJ Chart 3
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Pronunciation Guide

Conjunto Jardín:cone-HOON-toe har-DEEN
son jarocho:sohn ha-ROE-cho


Song titles
El Colás:el ko-LAHSS
El Torito:el tor-EE-toe
El Toro Zacamandú: el toro sac-a-man-DOO
El Coco:el CO-co
La Rama:la RAH-ma
La Guanábana:la wa-NAH-ba-na
El Gavilancito:el gahv-ee-lahn-SEE-toe
La Indita:la een-DEE-ta
El Pijúl:el pee-HOOL
El Aguacero:el ah-gwa-SEHR-oh
De Puerto en Puerto:
deh POOAIR-toe en POOAIR-toe
  Praise for Floreando
“In their new recording, Conjunto Jardin revitalizes the joyful and polyrhythmic music of Veracruz, Mexico known as son jarocho. Their unique rendition of classic songs connects the more accessible styles of son with the roots of this traditional genre.”
Betto Arcos, former music director, KPFK, Los Angeles
Conjunto Jardin: “La Rama” (“Floreando,” Trova)
“Everything folks on this list have said praising this group is true and then some; they’re one of the most exciting and delightful revival bands I’ve heard in years. Whether or not you think you like Mexican music, you really, really should hear this recording.”
Paul Stamler, KDHX, St. Louis, MO
“Talk about a flowering garden? This is a beautiful recording, which I just received for airplay on “Roots and Wings,” my weekly folk music program in the Pocono Mtns of NE Pennsylvania. There is a light-hearted Christmas song, “La Rama,” which might be described as a Mexican wassail with improv (ideal for the holiday season), and a fascinating glimpse of the Afro-Mexican ties between Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, and West Africa, from which many slaves were transported, “De Puerto en Puerto,” as another of the songs sings in a defiantly happy tribute to the human spirit (the very informative notes point to the African roots of such songs as “El Torito/El Toro Zacamandu” [The Little Bull/The Magic Bull]). Another song, a sea-shanty, “El Coco,” about a sea-bird, borrowed from marineros plying their trade between Cuba and Veracruz - sung in Benin by African-born percussionist Marcel Adjibi - underscores this centuries-old link between the Old World and the New, specifically in the Mexican gulf coast state of Veracruz and its main port.

Conjunto Jardin is the flowering of the work of Prof. Tim Harding, who made field recordings of Mexican regional music in the early 1950s, for Moses Asch’s Folkways Records, and has since gone on, not only to recall his Mexican students at Cal State LA (in the middle of East LA) to their Chicano roots, but also to encourage his daughters, Libby and Cindy, to carry on this work. The sound is brilliant but melodic, and the syncopated rhythms lend a jazzy feel to the selection of "son jarocho" (the music of Veracruz) represented here by a younger generation of multicultural musicians, not only the Harding sisters (vocals, various guitars, flute), and Marcel Adjibi (congas, talking drums, vocals), but also Mexican-born multi-instrumentalist Jorge Mijangos and Rick Moors (El Tiburon [The Shark]) on bass. This is a rich and lovely addition to your record library, and worth more than a few spins on any folk music program venturing beyond the Anglo tradition.

Thank you, Conjunto Jardin, and thank you, Prof. Harding.”
John McLaughlin

Conjunto Jardín
’s first release, Nuevo Son Jarocho (1998), got excellent notices and radio play; its track “La Bruja” was featured on Putumayo World Music’s 2001 compilation Music of Mexico.

For praise for Nuevo Son Jarocho, see Press.