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music recor· Reviewed by GavinJames Campbell, MusicEditor Conjunto Bernai, 16 Early Tejano Classics Arhoolie, 1997 cd 9010, $10 Santiago Jimenez Jr., Purely Instrumental Arhoolie, 1998 cd 466, $15 These two releases featuring South Texas tejano legends of the button accordion will pleasandy awaken those for whom the term "southern music" only conjures up the Mississippi Delta and the Appalachian mountains. The Conjunto Bernai, consisting of accordionist Paulino Bernai and his brother Eloy on bajo sexto (a 12-string guitar), formed in the early 1950s and eventually became one of the most innovative and important conjunto bands ever. The re-release of material from their 1955—65 recordings, with their alternately harddriving and lyrical polkas and waltzes, virtuosic accordion, and heartfelt singing, makes it clear why the Conjunto Bernai continues to be revered. Santiago Jiménez, the son of one of the founders of the conjunto style, has extended his father's legacy by honing his skills in regular dancehall engagements, forwhich he is still in demand. Today he is clearly a master in his own right. A traditionalist ,Jiménez aims to keep alive the older conjunto styles while avoiding slavish imitation. The sixteen instrumental selections he has recorded for Arhoolie demonstrate his mastery of the accordion, and will reward his longtime fans as well as listeners unaccustomed to turning their ears southwestward. Reviews 103 ...


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