Since I picked up this little gem, I’ve been playing it incessantly. It’s a beautiful example of regional Mexican music, and it’s positively anthemic – rollicking, upbeat, happy, and played with finesse.
The Trio Los Aguilillas performed local corridos, but they also issued discs of wonderful son huasteco from the various states in northeastern Mexico, son jarocho from Veracruz, and – today’s example – son michoacano. In terms of instrumentation, it’s fairly close to son jarocho, featuring guitar, a type of local jarana guitar (5 or 8 strings, depending on its origin), and the harp. Michoacán is one of the regions in Mexico where the harp – sometimes known as the arpa grande or even the arpa de tierra caliente – flourished. Traditionally, it is played while standing, and can be 3-5 feet tall, with a soundbox on it’s base acting as a resonator.
While Aguilillas literally means “little eagles,” in this case it’s also a reference to the town of Aguililla, in Michoacán, the birthplace of the Trio, which was comprised of three brothers, Antonio, Pedro, and Juan Rivera. The brothers were taught by their father, Don Pedro Rivera, a local harpist known throughout Michoacán as a great interpreter of the region’s music. Eventually the brothers moved from the family’s farm to Mexico City, to try and make their living as professional musicians. Apparently it took years before their local music was accepted without being watered down. Ethnomusicologist and anthropologist Joseph R. Hellmer aka Raúl Hellmer (1913-1971) recorded them ca. 1950 as “Trio Aguilillas” and issued their 10″ disc on Folkways titled “Sones of Mexico.” This Columbia disc dates from around the same time.
Issue Number: 6233-X
Matrix Number: MEX-99