In the 1970s, José Ortega (alias Morelos) and his brother began travelling from their home in the Peñón de los Baños neighbourhood of Mexico City to Colombia with hopes of finding cumbia records and bringing them back to Mexico. Driven by their passion for tropical music and small outdoor sound systems, in conjunction with their adventurous spirit, they visited Colombia and other regions of Central and South America. There they found records that would be useful to the owners of the sound systems – the sonideros – in Mexico.
Two years ago, Morelos invited Mirjam Wirz and Carlos Icaza, a Mexican musician and investigator, to join him and document his travels. On three separate trips, they retraced Morelos’ route, recollections, and personal connections. With Morelos, the hub and anchor of this story, they worked to discover the origins of cumbia and the sonidero movement throughout Mexico. Ojos Suaves/Soft Eyes is the result of these trips and a sample of relevant material: photographs, transcriptions of talks with various key figures, and some documents from their private collections.
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