Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Below are 2 tracks I recorded to share. Enjoy

One of the best and most successful bands to emerge from the musically fertile ground of East Los Angeles is El Chicano. Originally formed as the V.I.P.s in the late 60's, the group recorded a rendition of a song by jazz composer Gerald Wilson, "Viva Tirado," an homage to a Mexican bullfighter by the name of Jose Ramon Tirado. The album and single were released on MCA Records in 1970. With the cultural awakening of the Mexican- American in full swing and the new Chicano consciousness on the rise, the band was renamed El Chicano. The record became a local hit in Los Angeles, remaining at number one for thirteen consecutive weeks. It also did well in New York, Baltimore, the South and the Midwest. It was historically significant because it was the first single to attain positions in all popular music categories except country and western. The recording had a definite mid-tempo latin jazz feel and was an instrumental, featuring the Hammond organ of Bobby Espinosa and the Wes Montgomery-inspired guitar of Mickey Lespron. With the success of their first record, they toured extensively, playing the Ohio Jazz Festival and became the first Chicano band to perform at the legendary Apollo Theater. El Chicano went on to release six other albums with MCA, which include, "Revolution" (1971), "Celebration" (1972), "El Chicano" (1973), "Cinco" (1974), "The Best of Everything" (1975)" and "Pyramid" (1976). Also in 1976, they recorded an album called "This Is El Chicano" for the independent Shady Brooke label. It was the first record on which they had been in full creative control. During this period they had hits with their version of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" in 1972 and "Tell Her She's Lovely," which reached number 40 on the national charts in 1973. In 1982, they recorded an album for CBS entitled, "Do You Want Me."

In the ensuing years, El Chicano has made a huge name for themselves in Japan and abroad. They have performed in such diverse places as Nicaragua, Canada, Malaysia and Korea. They have performed on the same bill with such diverse artists as Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, ZZ Top, Earth, Wind and Fire, Olivia Newton-John, Chaka Kahn, Chicago, Santana and War. Their success prompted MCA to reissue a greatest hits collection entitled, "Viva! El Chicano, Their Very Best" in 1988, and five of El Chicano's MCA albums to be re-released on Bomba Records, as a Japanese import, in 1995. In addition to touring, El Chicano has appeared on the "Donny Brasco" (Tri Star) soundtrack with "The Latin One" (1998) as well as doing the entire score in collaboration with John Taylor (Duran Duran) for the movie "Mi Vida Loca" ("My Crazy Life") in 1995. In 1997, El Chicano resurfaced on Thump Records with the release of "Latin Legends Live," a live recording that also includes the Chicano bands Malo and Tierra. The groups went on to do a Southwest tour for the release.

In 1998, El Chicano recorded a new album entitled, "Painting the Moment." It is their first new collection of songs in well over a decade. It also marks the return of original guitarist, Mickey Lespron, after a 20 year absence. I'm personally happy to hear that Mickey is on this album because he and Bobby have a great musical chemistry together. After all, it was that team that put El Chicano on the map in the first place. The new album features instrumentals as well as vocal performances by Steve Salas. In the words of bandleader Bobby Espinosa, "This album is an evolution of the El Chicano of the 70's. With our well known sound signature, we've managed to keep the original musical formula intact while taking it to a new level by adding horns. I am very pleased with the results." In 1997, MCA released another collection of El Chicano songs entitled, "Chicano Chant" and Varese Sarabande recently reissued their self-produced 1976 album, "This Is El Chicano." If you'd like a sampling of what the early El Chicano was all about, I recommend, "Viva! El Chicano, Their Very Best" on MCA, and to hear what they're about now, pick up their new album "Painting the Moment"

Currently El Chicano is putting together the framework for a brand new project that will feature original members Bobby Espinosa and Freddie Sanchez - bringing back that great musical blend that gave us their signature sound in their first hit "Viva Tirado", plus will feature several well known guest artists, so be on the lookout for the new El Chicano release coming soon!


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