Santiago Jimenez, Jr.
Musica de Tiempos Pasados, del Presente, y Futuro
review by Art Menius
Before World War II Don Santiago Jimenez, Senior and Narciso Martinez championed a new sound drawn from the rich cultural mix of south Texas and northern Mexico. It has as many names–Conjunto, Tejano, Tex-Mex, norteño– as influences, which include the polkas of its trademark accordion, Mexican ranchera, corridos, and mariachi sounds, and central European dance music. Don Santiago also sired two sons. Flaco Jimenez has pushed both the genre and his accordion to their limits, becoming at middle age a modest pop star as one of the celebrated Texas Tornados and through his major label collaborations with everyone from Emmylou Harris to Stephen Stills.
The other son, Santiago Jimenez, Junior., opted to carry the family traditions forward into a new millennium. Even by his standards, Musica de Tiempos Pasados, del Presente, y Futuro, Jimenez, Jr.’s delightful new Watermelon release, proves a dramatic reaffirmation of the power of roots Tejano. He coaxes deliciously rich traditional performances from younger backing musicians such as bassist Mark Rubin of the punk bluegrass Bad Livers, whose banjoman Danny Barnes engineers, and Austin’s Finnish fiddle superstar Erik Hokkanen.
The music they create dances with the joy of traditional working class music as Jimenez guides his talent-rich crew through an assortment from the true vine of polkas, rancheros, corridos, and even a chottis, the Tejano term for the central European schottische, a form that also appears in bluegrass and old-time music. Flaco and Stanley Jordan rank with the most remarkably visionary virtuosi of our times, but for my money the honest straight forward work of Santiago Jimenez, Jr. as heard on Musica de Tiempos Pasados, del Presente, y Futuro offers far greater rewards for the listener or dancer.Living history you can dance to, this is music for the human spirit that reaches through the Jimenez family from times past to the future.