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date: 24 February 2020

Martínez, Narciso locked

  • Cathy Ragland


(b Reynosa, México, Oct 29, 1911; d San Benito, TX June 5, 1992). Mexican accordionist and composer, active in the United States. Narciso Martínez is widely considered the “Father of Texas Mexican Music.” This distinction is partly due to his early recordings for Bluebird Records, a discount sublabel of New York–based RCA Victor for which he recorded prolifically until 1940. Martínez’s 1936 recording of his polka “La chicarronera” (The Crackling) was a huge hit in South Texas. He released numerous instrumental compositions—polkas, redowas, mazurkas, waltzes, and huapangos (regional Mexican rhythm with alternating pattern). The names of many songs, such as “Floreicita” (Little Flower), “Los chivitos” (Little Goats), and “El tronconal” (The Tree Stump), reflected his rural upbringing in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. His melodies were lively and memorable, emphasizing his distinctively fast-paced, marcato accordion style. He has often been compared to Santiago Jiménez, his biggest rival, who himself commented that Martínez was the technically superior player. His fans across Texas agreed and he was nicknamed “El Huracán del Valle” (“The Hurricane of the Valley”). Martínez played a two-row, then three-row button accordion on which he emphasized the treble notes, leaving the bass parts to his equally adept ...

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