Patrick McMahon - Mexico Playlists

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Patrick McMahon is a Stroudy who completed his bachelor's degree in music at The University of Sheffield in 2016, and has been composing and producing music under the artist name Da Rico for several years. Since August 2017 he has been living in Mexico City, where he has been playing with local musicians and scoping out the best jazz that's being made there. He has also been researching some of the traditional musical styles from Mexico, which has culminated in a forthcoming publication for The Wire. Having performed at Jazz Stroud 2017, Patrick is very sorry to be missing this year's event, but has put together some playlists of his favourite Mexican jazz to share with jazzers back in Blighty.

Contact: patrickm1994@hotmail.co.uk


Playlist 1
Diego Franco Cuarteto – 'No Tiemblo, Vibro'
Both a virtuoso saxophonist and highly talented composer, Diego Franco is an impressive musical force in Mexico's jazz scene. He was musically trained in Guadalajara before coming to Mexico City, where he now plays his unique modern jazz style with his super-tight quartet.

Filulas Juz – '3773'
Although there is quite a bit of jazz in Mexico that fits comfortably into the straight-ahead category, there are also fantastic groups like Filulas Juz who are producing very original and modern-sounding stuff. They describe themselves as a "Mexican ensemble from Querétaro with experimentation and creation of contemporary music as their main objective, using improvisation and collective composition."

Xuc Trio – 'Little Tikes'
Led by Juanjo Gómez, this guitar trio fuse together numerous popular styles with their solid grounding in jazz, creating songs which are both accessible and highly technical. When seen live, these players musically communicate with one another to develop their songs in really interesting ways, to the point where they almost unrecognisable from the tightly arranged album recordings, which can make for a really exciting performance.

Alex Mercardo Trio ft. Scott Colley & Antonio Sánchez – 'Wise' (Symbosis)
One of the current jazz giants of Mexico City, Alex Mercardo is a Berklee trained musician who has impeccable technique and improvisational skill. This trio also features the virtuoso drummer Antonio Sánchez, who is well-known for his music in the film 'Birdman' and his playing with Pat Metheny's groups.

La Orquesta Vulgar – 'Mambo 38'
These young chilangos (the term for a person from Mexico City) studied in various music schools throughout the city, and have come together to combine their different influences and make energetic jazz-influenced music. This group are in their early stages but have already gained lots of interest in the city, with the solos by their enthusiastic drummer, Luis Flores, being a particular highlight of their shows.

Vladmir Alfonseca - 'Modí'
Vladmir Alfonseca studied in La Escuela Superior de Música, like many great players in Mexico City, before going on to complete further study in composition and arrangement. His very soft, warm tone integrates really nicely into his intricate and quite complex arrangements, resulting in a distinctive sound that is mellow and yet at the same time driven with momentum.
 

 

Playlist 2
Le Monqué Spazzuah – 'Cherry Trees'
Toluca is the capital of Estado de México, one of the states that neighbours Mexico City, and is home to the self-described 'panic nu-jazz' group La Monqué Spazzuah. Their sound is quite varied, but it's their fiercely performed tracks with jolting time signatures that have really caught my attention whilst in Mexico. 'Cherry Trees' is from their first album titled 'T3RC3R MUNDO' which means 'third world', and is a great example of their powerful energy that pulls no punches.

Hector Infanzon – 'La Chipita'
Another of the jazz piano legends from Mexico City, Hector Infanzon went to study at Berklee College of Music in 1985 before embarking on his international career as a composer and performer. His pieces that employ afro-Caribbean grooves and super tight arrangements are particularly engaging, making a solid base for him to lay down his great lines and virtuosic sweeps.

Vladmir Alfonseca – 'Luna Diruna'
Vladmir Alfonseca studied in La Escuela Superior de Música, like many great players in Mexico City, before going on to complete further study in composition and arrangement. His mellow composition 'Luna Diruna' or 'Daytime Moon' feels like it sits somewhere between a classical etude and a Joe Pass jazz ballad. His warm sound and intricate compositional style come together here to create a very intimate atmosphere, as well as display his unique talent as an arranger.

Filulas Juz – 'V.R.H.'
Although there is quite a bit of jazz in Mexico that fits comfortably into the straight-ahead category, there are also fantastic groups like Filulas Juz who are producing very original and modern-sounding stuff. They describe themselves as a "Mexican ensemble from Querétaro with experimentation and creation of contemporary music as their main objective, using improvisation and collective composition."

Tino Contreras – 'Orfeo En Los Tambores'
As well as all the modern jazz music being made here, Mexico is home to one or two great older jazz classics too. The drummer Tino Contreras has been described as "Mexico's best kept secret in jazz," and has had a career playing jazz spanning more than 50 decades across the world. His 'Orfeo En Los Tambores' (Orpheus on the Drums) is a fun Latin tune with plenty of rhythm and energy flowing through it, and features a fleeting shout out at the end to Chihuahua, his hometown in the north of the country.

Xuc Trio – 'Triángulo'
Led by Juanjo Gómez, this guitar trio fuse together numerous popular styles with their solid grounding in jazz, creating songs which are both accessible and highly technical. When seen live, these players musically communicate with one another to develop their songs in really interesting
ways, to the point where they almost unrecognisable from the tightly arranged album recordings, which can make for a really exciting performance.

Playlist 3
Hector Infanzon – 'El Devenir de la Noche' ft. Tambuco

Another of the jazz piano legends from Mexico City, Hector Infanzon went to study at Berklee College of Music in 1985 before embarking on his international career as a composer and performer. The piece 'El Devenir de la Noche' was released on an eponymous album which features Infanzon's compositions for 8 different ensembles. This particular piece was written for the percussion quartet Tambuco, who perform the piece's fast interlocking rhythms and a colourful harmonic changes across 4 marimbas.
Diego Franco Cuarteto – 'Sesiones en Directo DIM'
Both a virtuoso saxophonist and highly talented composer, Diego Franco is an impressive musical force in Mexico's jazz scene. He was musically trained in Guadalajara before coming to Mexico City, where he now plays his unique modern jazz style with his super-tight quartet.
 

Xinto - 'Tricoma Son'
Xinto is an interesting project from Mexico City led by Jacinto Stephens Dupeyron, who has decided to combine jazz together with son jarocho, the traditional music of Veracruz. His subtle arrangements see son jarocho melodies and progressions placed into the jazz medium through incorporating solos and complex time signatures, whilst keeping traditional instruments such as the jarana, requinto and violin in the ensemble.

Antonio Sánchez – 'Grids and Patterns'
One of the most famous current Mexican jazz players, Antonio Sánchez is well-known for the film score he composed for the film 'Birdman', and has played as a dummer with jazz legends such as Pat Metheny, Gary Burton and Chick Corea. As well as playing as a sideman for the greats, Sánchez has also released a number of albums as a bandleader, including his complex work The Meridian Suite that features the track 'Grids and Patterns'. At times there are clear influences from Sanchez's collaborations with players like Metheny, but Sanchez's ensemble also creates a very distinct sound on this album which sets this project apart from his sideman work.

San Juan Project – 'Tom Mató a Jerry'
San Juan Project are a lively group from Guadalajara, Jalisco, who describe themselves as a mixture of "jazz, electrónica, hip hop, soul y funk". They are starting to gain a following outside of Mexico because of their energetic, fun performances, and even performed at last year's Glastonbury Festival. 'Tom Mató a Jerry' (Tom killed Jerry) is a stripped-down acoustic version of their live setup, but is still charged with the energetic drive that has made them popular in and Mexico and beyond.
 

Filulas Juz - 'Street I.Q.'
Although there is quite a bit of jazz in Mexico that fits comfortably into the straight-ahead category, there are also fantastic groups like Filulas Juz who are producing very original and modern-sounding stuff. They describe themselves as a "Mexican ensemble from Querétaro with experimentation and creation of contemporary music as their main objective, using improvisation and collective composition."
 

Tino Contreras – 'Fausto Blues'
As well as all the modern jazz music being made here, Mexico is home to one or two great older jazz classics too. The drummer Tino Contreras has been described as "Mexico's best kept secret in jazz," and has had a career playing jazz spanning more than 50 decades across the world. 'Fausto Blues' is a showy piece from his album Jazz Mariachi, which was released as recently as 2010, and swings as well as Contreras' music ever has in the past.
 

Filulas Juz - 'Urbanistán'
Although there is quite a bit of jazz in Mexico that fits comfortably into the straight-ahead category, there are also fantastic groups like Filulas Juz who are producing very original and modern-sounding stuff. They describe themselves as a "Mexican ensemble from Querétaro with experimentation and creation of contemporary music as their main objective, using improvisation and collective composition."

neil walker