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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Los Jardineros

By Michael Stone
Published March 30, 2007

The Best Of Los Jardineros

It seems paradoxical, but many early Puerto Rican traditional recordings were actually made in New York. Responding to labor demands, Puerto Ricans began migrating north soon after gaining citizenship in 1917, bringing their music to immigrant enclaves in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Lower East Side. Los Jardineros, often cited as the era’s standout ensemble, first recorded in 1929, fronting singers Heriberto Torres, Manolo Jiménez “Canario” and José Vilár. Backing the group was Arturo Catalá, the New York-based Okeh label’s Puerto Rican representative and owner of the highly successful “Jardin Del Arte” record chain (hence the group’s name). This recording gathers 23 of over 100 recorded tracks done between 1929-32, in various styles: bolero, son, guaracha, rumba, tango, vals, pasodoble, danza, seis, bomba, plena and aguinaldo (with several of the latter in the complex décima verse form). Historical photos and extensive English- and Spanish-language notes and lyrics round out an extraordinary documentary package.