Cambalache is the direct result of Los Angeles musicians, community workers and artists creating a space, cultivating relationships with Jarocho musicians and community workers in Veracruz, Mexico. Our primary concept of organizing and exchange comes from “el fandango” model which is: building community through participatory music. In January of 2003, LA’s music group, Quetzal along with a dozen other musicians, visual artists, writers and community workers from LA visited Xalapa Veracruz to help organize and form part of the first encuentro Chicana/o/Jarocha/o. This dialogue, from which a myriad of projects, recordings, writings, performances and relationships have evolved, extended that concept of el fandango to a transnational network of artists, community workers in Veracruz and the Chicano and Mexican immigrant communities in Los Angeles.
The music of Cambalache was featured on August 7, 2011 on NPR’s All Things Considered stating, “Son Jarocho has been popular in Los Angeles, going back to the 1950s with Ritchie Valens, then Los Lobos. Today, it’s a part of the regular soundtrack of Latino music in East L.A.”
Son Jarocho is a genre of music originated in Veracruz, Mexico. It is a blend of indigenous Mexican, African-Arabic sounds and rhythms. Traditional son jarocho instrumentation includes: jaranas (guitars that are strummed and more percussive), plucked guitars called guitarra de son or requinto, león or leonas (a big and bassy guitar), harp, violin, marimbol, quijada (donkey or horse jaw), pandero (octagonal tambourine) and tarima (wooden platform that is danced on).
El Fandango is an all night celebration centered around a tarima or wooden platform that dancers stomp on or zapatean creating different rhythms and patterns while other musicians play jaranas, requintos and leonas (all traditional son jarocho instruments) and sing verses, some widely known and others improvised especially for the moment. The fandango encourages the participation of everyone on some level. All ages, levels of musical abilities and genders are involved in creating music, poetry, dance and la convivencia, or the gathering and engagement of community. It is a microcosm of life in its most engaging, inclusive and accepting sense.
Who are the members of Cambalache?
• Cesar Castro lead vocals, requinto jarocho, jarana, quijada
• Xochi Flores vocals, jarana tercera, zapateado
• Chuy Sandoval vocals, jarana segunda, jarana tercera, pandeiro
• Juan Perez bass