California-based Mexican roots band Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds) premiered a dynamic, visually inventive video assembled from footage gathered during their week-long residency in New Orleans with Preservation Hall Jazz Band. As the 10-minute photomontage film unfolds, the viewer is treated to syncopated, painterly images that complement poignant moments of novel musical expression and heartfelt, first-person reflections on this uncommon cultural connection.
In late-2018, Los Cenzontles was invited to join Preservation Hall for a series of events and musical collaborations. Los Cenzontles is not only a touring band, it is also a 30-year-old cultural arts Academy, and students from the Academy traveled with the band for an experience of a lifetime. These young music and dance students engaged with members of Preservation Hall and other local experts who represent the beating heart of New Orleans culture.
In the film, Los Cenzontles members and students express considered perspectives on this special meeting of artistic traditions. Deep aspects of both Mexican-American and New Orleans culture and history are conveyed, bringing connections between them to light. The film can be viewed in its entirety at the following link:
A collaboration between these groups is perhaps overdue. Preservation Hall and Los Cenzontles share so many of the same values of cultural connection, education, and celebration, and, as comes across clearly in the film, there is a palpable resonance between these keepers of cultural flames. What could not be predicted with certainty in advance was how the musical collaboration between them would result. What the Conexiones film demonstrates, is that these (superficially disparate) musical styles can combine (like a beautiful gumbo) in ways that generate sparks of genuine inspiration when artistic sensitivity and mutual respect are brought to the fore.
ABOUT LOS CENZONTLES
Los Cenzontles (pronounced los senn-sont-less) has made a name for themselves among music aficionados across the US, Mexico and in Europe creating roots music and cross-cultural projects. Their media productions have been broadcast nationally on PBS. Their YouTube Channel hosts hundreds of videos enjoyed throughout the world.
- “Los Cenzontles is the best community based arts program I have ever seen.” – Linda Ronstadt
- “Los Cenzontles is a factory of culture.”—NPR, Morning Edition
- “[Los Cenzontles] both honors and upends traditional Mexican music, tapping deep roots as it flowers into something completely new, and distinctly American.”—New York Times