Wednesday, January 27, 1999

Super Supergroup

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Who are Los Super Seven? They can be described as "The Mexican-American All-Stars" or "The Tex-Mex Social Club." In the wake of the recent, award-winning Buena Vista Social Club CD – which was spearheaded by Ry Cooder and featured an incredible lineup of Cuban musical legends – it seems as if virtually every record company has been flooding the marketplace with anything Cuban-related, in the often futile hopes of another surprise million-seller and at the expense of releasing music from the rest of the planet. The only similarities between Buena Vista and Los Super Seven are that both projects bring together all-star ensembles of their respective genres, and both projects succeed to such an extent that they would be on that elite list of "CDs to Bring to a Desert Island."

The seven super musicians are country veteran Freddy Fender, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, Texas rocker Joe Ely, country vocalist Rick Trevino, Tejano singer Ruben Ramos and the conjunto accordion legend Flaco Jimenez. This self-titled debut album is part bolero, part norteña and ranchera Tex-Mex folk music, part Mexican polka, part country, all acoustic and all brilliantly produced. The album showcases each of the Seven’s remarkable talents over the wide range of Mexican and Mexican-American folk repertoires.

The idea for the project grew out of the 1998 South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas which many of the Super Seven were attending. The studio album re-creates the magic possible at these sorts of festivals, which often bring together all-star lineups, essentially dream teams that, for one reason or another, rarely perform together and virtually never record together. The album opens with Jimenez’s lilting accordion, with Rosas and Ramos taking turns behind the mic, in Valerio Longoria’s soulful version of the folk classic "El Canoero." Another gem is "La Morena" featuring the rapid jorocho guitar picking and call-and-response vocals typical of those native to Veracruz, Mexico, and led by Ruben Ramos.

Will the Super Seven reach a Buena Vista Social Club level of success? In absolute terms, it is unlikely that sales will reach seven figures – but the session is destined to be a classic within the genre and sure to introduce countless new listeners to the rich traditions of the barrios around the Rio Grande.


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