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Valerio Longoria

VALERIO LONGORIA

The "genius" of conjunto music, Valerio Longoria was born in Kenedy, Texas in 1924. He was the first of the post-World War II accordionists -- collectively known as the "nueva generación" (new generation) -- that launched the "classic" stage of the Texas-Mexican conjunto. The ensemble had been evolving slowly since the 1920s, especially after Narciso Martínez introduced his new technique, but Longoria radically changed the style, most notably through his addition of trap drums. He also added vocals to what had hitherto been a strictly instrumental style, and he expanded the conjunto's repertoire by adding genres like the romantic Cuban-Mexican bolero. By adding the more sophisticated bolero, Longoria upgraded the ensemble; by injecting what was known as a more "jaitón" ("hightoned") style into the conjunto, he instantly transformed the lowly conjunto into a more "respectable" type of music. Until this time, the conjunto was considered by middle-class tejanos to be a disreputable, low-class, "cantina" music. Longoria thus became a pivotal figure in the evolution of the conjunto style by introducing innovations that catapulted the music to a new stylistic level while raising its social value.

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