Mariachi Mestizo is a modern ensemble that preserves and expands Mexico’s centuries-old mariachi tradition. The youthful players, mentored by the veteran mariachi master Juan Morales (Los Camperos), dig deep into the music’s history and timeless emotional appeal to make the music vital and current.

The young musicians who comprise Mariachi Mestizo train at Morales’ Mariachi Studio, a community space that allows the players to explore the art of mariachi music-making through vocal and instrumental performance, offering lessons on guitar, guitarra de golpe, guitarron, harp, trumpet, vihuela, violin and voice. Based in the town of Delano in California’s Central Valley, the Mariachi Mestizo group can regularly be seen performing at local community events. But the group has also played some prestigious out-of-town engagements, performing as far afield as Washington, DC and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Mariachi Mestizo’s album, XX Aniversario, celebrates Mariachi Mestizo’s 20th anniversary while showcasing some of the group’s newest and youngest participants. The album was recorded by Little Village Foundation founder Jim Pugh, using an unadorned audio verite approach, the better to showcase the group members’ playing and singing with a complete lack of studio artifice. In addition to traditional mariachi material, the album features arendition of the pop standard “New York, New York,” and a total of four songs recorded at the group’s prestigious Carnegie Hall debut in 2017. Juan’s daughter Xochitl Morales, who released her own spoken-word album on Little Village last year, appears on the album, in her role as teacher and performer with the group.

“This album is a great way to document Mestizo and its evolution, ” says Xochitl Morales. “This is our last album as the current group. A bunch of us are leaving to college, so we are saying goodbye to this stage in our lives, a really beautiful part of our lives for us as a group for a long time. We evolved as musicians and friends.Mariachi Mestizo is a way to stay in touch with our culture and connect with the community and what it brings to our lives. It helps us discover ourselves in this Mexican culture, and brings harmony with your roots and origins. This group also inspires a new generation of kids to do what we were able to do.”