Preserving The Roots
The new director of well known Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, Jesus “Chuy” Guzman spoke with AL DÍA about his new music launch and the future of mariachi.
From the age of six, Jesus "Chuy" Guzman, knew that he wanted to be part of a mariachi just like his father. Chuy lived in Ensenada, Baja California and from his first year of school, he studied music in his spare time. He remembers doing his homework while walking home, so when he got there, he could practice his violin.
Down the line, he was able to fulfill his biggest dream of playing with the famous Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. His continued love and dedication to traditional Mexican music would eventually make him their new director.
Like every musician, Chuy Guzman knew it would be a difficult career and that he would have to start as a "soldado razo" (first class soldier) as he mentioned in his recent interview with AL DÍA.
"You know that someday I will be with Mariachi Los Camperos," Chuy commented to one of his colleagues who immediately called him a madman.
He started working in a restaurant in Tijuana, Baja California, well known by tourists and locals for the three Mariachis that played throughout the day. Chuy played in the afternoon shift and it was there that he met Nati Cano during one of his visits to the city.
Don Nati Cano, seeing the potential of Chuy, offered him an invitation to California to talk about his future. Chuy worked in Tijuana until 1985 and went to California. Unfortunately, the Mariachi was already complete and there was no place for him. But he didn't get discouraged and joined another Mariachi, "Los Galleros de Pedro Rey."
Looking back, Chuy says being part of this mariachi was his destiny, and in 1988 he was invited to be part of Los Camperos.
Without Chuy even imagining it, Don Nati Cano gave him the musical direction so that one day he would take his place as the director of Los Camperos.
Chuy spent 30 years learning and growing with him musically. He learned to respect the public and created a connection that made them one with the audience.
"Nati Cano was passion ... something exceptional within the music, he left an unattainable mark," Chuy said.
He was able to share the stage with great mariachi music artists like Linda Ronstadt, and participate with orchestras in México, and make music for the opera. Chuy has worked with more than 150 musicians in Los Camperos and also lived with Don Nati Cano for the last eight years of life.
The words of Cano were clear "you are the right person to keep the torch ignited of Los Camperos when I die."
And that's how in 2014, Chuy Guzman took over his position as the new director of the mariachi.
Since Chuy took his place, Los Camperos have produced two albums. One of them, that was recorded before Cano died, was nominated for a Grammy. Don Nati Cano didn’t live long enough to witness the nomination.
His most recent release De Ayer Para Siempre, is a bouquet of classical music that new generations no longer listen to. Featured are songs of great artists, composers, and interpreters such as Agustin Lara, Maria Grever, and Javier Solis, and many more.
Chuy aims to follow the legacy of Nati Cano, because he wants to continue preserving the roots of Mariachi. In the album, you can hear the breadth of coverage: from the classic to the most contemporary of traditional Mexican music.
At the moment, the Mariachi has 12 official members, but the number has varied between nine and 13 over the years. They currently are all Mexican-American but the group does not refuse the idea of having members from other Latin American countries.
Chuy Guzman also aims to continue teaching mariachi music as he saw a need for young people to learn about it after a mariachi music conference in Tucson, Arizona.
His goal is to produce an album for schools, complete with sheet music to continue teaching the importance of this traditional music
“Los Camperos have positivity and desire. Hungry to be in great theaters and orchestras. They want to give the public what the music of Mexico really is,” Jesus“ Chuy ”Guzman shared with joy.