I don’t like most “live” albums but Cooder and Corridos Famosos make this an exception..
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Live in San Francisco is a collaborative live album by Ry Cooder and Corridos Famosos released in September 2013 by Nonesuch Records and Perro Verde. The album was recorded in 2011 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California. Cooder produced Live in San Francisco and recorded with members of Corridos Famosos, which included vocalists Juliette Commagere, Terry Evans, and Arnold McCuller, Joachim Cooder on drums, Robert Francis on bass, Flaco Jiménez on accordion, and the ten-piece Mexican brass band La Banda Juvenil.
It was Cooder’s first live album since Show Time (1977), which Cooder also recorded at the Great American Music Hall with Jiménez and Evans.
This is Ry doing what he does best. Mixing in music that you wouldn’t normally put on the same album. To me, he is the Patron Saint of Un-Lettered Ethnomusicologists. Look at the genres of music and the variety of musicians he has played with over the past 40 years. A small sample: Buena Vista to V.M. Bhatt, Ronstadt to Rolling Stones, Farka Toure to Taj Mahal and on and on. So, here is a live album with back catalog classics, new songs, r and b, blues, Nortena, folk trad, and Banda. Be honest boys and girls…have you heard or know what Banda music is? I am lucky to call Ry my friend. A few years ago, he invited me to East L.A. to hear Banda music. I thought the motels in that part of town were damn reasonable at signboard prices of $15-$25. Till I realized that they were “per hour” rates. Yes, in that part of town. The club we went to had La Banda Juvenil in the marquee. They consisted of 3 trumpets, 2 bones, 2 saxes, a marching bass drum, a marching snare, a tuba and two singers. And, they were miked in a club that held maybe 150 people. Blown away was an understatement. At the break, the leader introduced and thanked Ry for coming out. I could feel the wheels spinning. And here they are tonite along with Flaco Jimenez (2013 NEA award winner). Along with the fab soulful vocals of Terry Evans and Arnold McCuller. And what about Juliette Commagere? She kills it on Volver Volver. (Trivia: Joachim Cooder’s bandmate from their high school days) Joachim is no gimmick either. The treble clef didn’t fall far off the music stand did it? And trusty Robert Francis smokin bass line keeps everyone’s heads bobbing. This is a live album. You get Ry yakking story after story between the cuts. Pulls it all together. Now go play this friggin’ loud on your best system, arm around your baby, cold beer or smoke nearby. And suddenly, all is well in the world.