Grupo Mono Blanco
The internationally acclaimed musical group Mono Blanco is the leading proponent of Son Jarocho. It is a multi-generational ensemble of over twenty members whose families have played and danced indigenous art forms for generations; the group has a unique sound due to a rich ancient tradition in which feet and voices of energetic and insightful modern musicians join the echoes of the past. Since its inception in 1977, Mono Blanco has toured Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Central and South America, the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Gilberto Gutierrez, Mono Blanco’s artistic director, has received numerous honors including the National Endowment for the Arts “Folk Arts” Award and the Rockefeller Fund for Culture to develop projects that promote Son Jarocho.
However, its most important work remains within the rural communities of Veracruz. The group features Don Andres Vega, a master musician and elder in the group, who is responsible for keeping the flame of this musical tradition. As a large part of disseminating this tradition, Mono Blanco conducts workshops on traditional song, dance as well as traditional instrument making. In 2001, Mono Blanco opened The House of Popular Music of Veracruz: “el caSon” – an independent music school whose sole mission is to promote and teach music of Veracruz.
All of the workshops expose the idea of learning through teaching whether that is workshops on jarana, zapateado, harp, guitar or violin. El caSon features a monthly fandango with an invited group of Son jarocho, where students as well as educators participate in a jam session that displays the rich traditions of lyrical and instrumental improvisation. In addition, el caSon provides a space for the local jarocho groups to come and showcase their talent.
“… The first thing one perceives is their authenticity; specially their ability to improvise… (their) temperance within extremely good taste gives their interpretations a high poetic value…”
“Like the monkey, these soneros are characterized by their originality, their gift of imitation, -La Jornada Semanal, Mexico, D.F.
“The harp and the ukelele-size guitarra de son pluck interlocking melodies and arpeggios, changing with every verse; a strummed guitar, the jarana, and an acoustic bass guitar, the guitarron, play brisk, three-against-two syncopations hinting at connections between Veracruz -New York Times, New York, USA.