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Pop Music Reviews

A Marvelous Mariachi Mix at the Greek

September 07, 1998|ERNESTO LECHNER

Viva el Mariachi '98, a nicely balanced edition of the annual event, evoked the utter romanticism of an old-fashioned era on a warm, humid Saturday evening at the Greek Theatre.

Remarkably, the first ensemble of the evening, Mariachi Garibaldi, was as excellent as the groups that were to follow. Singer Monica Trevin~o offered one of the highlights of the festival with a heart-wrenching version of Rocio Durcal's hit "Como Han Pasado Los An~os."

Then came further proof that mariachi is no longer a male-dominated field. The all-female Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles sounded strident at times, and its material is something of a hit-and-miss proposition, switching between poppish excursions such as "Solo Tuya" and adventurous musical mutations, such as a fast-paced version of Patsy Cline's hit "Crazy."

An explosive contrast followed: The testosterone-charged Mariachi Sol de Mexico, led by the charismatic Jose Hernandez. After a thunderous potpourri of crowd-pleasers such as "Guadalajara" and "Cielito Lindo," it was clear that this was one of the best groups of the genre. All three orchestras joined together for the appearance of Vikki Carr. Her vocal command shone on tunes such as "Te Reto," the bold tale of a woman who dares a man to be her lover. The singer was a little too eager to promote her forthcoming album with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, but the three merged orchestras never sounded better.

Carr ended the evening with her biggest hit, the pop ballad "It Must Be Him," before a fireworks finale. Acting as emcee for most of the night, television personality Gabriela Teissier struck the perfect balance between humor and a sincere love for mariachi tradition.

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