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CD Review: Zel – True (Zel Productions)

zelWhile it doesn’t make up the preponderance of my music collection or my music listening time, I have always had a special place in my heart for Latin music. While I am not really sure exactly when I began listening to Mexican and Latin music, I believe the genesis of my affection for it began in my youth. My father’s brother lived in Arizona, right near the Mexican border and we would visit him at least twice a year for two weeks at a time. At some point during these visits, we would pile into my uncle’s RV and travel into Mexico to stay for a few days. Being from a small town in New York, the exotic sights, foods, smells and sounds were intoxicating to me, almost as much as the Mescal and Tequila were to my father and his brother, I reckon. While walking through the cities of these towns in Mexico, I remember many a guitarist on the street corner or hearing the sounds of guitars playing in a cantina with its’ door open wide so the expertly played guitars were able to be heard from the street. While many of these guitarists played with Mariachi bands and other combos, many more were just playing by themselves or maybe with another guitarist. I didn’t think too much of all the guitarists I saw playing at the time since I was only a kid, but today it makes me think of a quote Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones said when asked about his travels to Mexico. Richards said hanging out in Mexico blew his mind as there were more great guitarists per square foot in Mexico than there are any place else in the world. While that quote has more than a little bit of hyperbole in it, my limited experience in Mexico bears it out nonetheless. And, since then, while I don’t actively seek it out as much as I could, when I hear some guitar with a Latin flavor, I am all over it like a hobo on a biscuit.