Years ago, going back 20 years or so, there was a music store named Samara Musical on the corner of 1st & Broadway streets in Downtown Santa Ana.
I acquired some of the rarest imported cds there, and not just anything, but really impacting, life-changing music. It’s sounds like an exaggeration but it’s true.
Samara was associated more with popular or regional Mexican music genres, things like corridos, mariachi, versátil even rock en español. This last genre is why I entered Samara in the first place… I went hunting specifically for that genre when I stumbled upon an overlooked cd carousel. That carousel had some absolute gems of albums. I think the first ever cd I bought there was called Embrujo flamenco, by a group of the same name, recorded on Sony Discos in the mid 1990s. I was floored by the quality of that group, a Mexican trio of guitarists that recorded arrangements of classical guitar works but adapted to flamenco guitar. They also included some Mexican arrangements like El balaju and Huapango.
Given the rarity and quality of that album I returned to Samara Musical. I went back to that same carousel and found what ended up being the album that changed my life, Nacionalismo musical mexicano, which is where I was first exposed to the symphonic work La noche de los mayas (The Night of the Mayas) by Silvestre Revueltas. That was back 1997 or 1998. Soon I became an enthusiast and collector of symphonic Mexican music and was never the same from that point on, to this day.
I never imagined that such a modest music store would house such important music, absolute gems of Mexican musical patrimony.
My beginnings as a collector at Samara Musical led to searching elsewhere for this genre of Mexican art music and the only other place nearby with a respectable collection was the classical music section at Tower Records in Tustin. I added album after album from there, then elsewhere like Mixup Classical at Perisur mall in Mexico City, their online store, Librerías Gandhi in Mexico City, Bellas Artes in Mexico City (where I bought Manuel M. Ponce’s complete piano collection, 7 cds) and in other parts.
The classical section at Amoeba in Hollywood deserves some mention, I must say.
Nowadays, very luckily, there is the Urext online store, which sells digital music downloads. That label has produced some of the most significant Mexican art music albums in recent times like the multi-volume México Barroco, México sinfónico, La melodie mexicaine (French art songs by 19th-century Mexican composers), Canciones de Jalisco (art songs from the state of Jalisco) and so much more. These are only very few of the ones in my personal collection, one I call the Colección Avaliana.
All of this was made possible by a modest carousel in an overlooked corner at Samara Musical.