Across the 15 tracks of "Chavez Ravine," the artist brings back to life the hillside community that was destroyed by developers in the 1950s and since 1962 has been home to Dodger Stadium.
More than a year-and-a-half after first revealing plans for the project to Billboard.com, Ry Cooder's musical portrait of a lost Los Angeles Mexican neighborhood will finally see release this summer. Across the 15 tracks of "Chavez Ravine," the artist brings back to life the hillside community that was destroyed by developers in the 1950s and since 1962 has been home to Dodger Stadium.
"It's a story/concept record about Chavez Ravine," Cooder told Billboard.com in November 2003, "our L.A. classic Hispanic Pachuco tale of woe, corruption, politics, the Red Scare, the little and the big, neighborhood vs. corporate, all rolled into one."
The songs on "Chavez Ravine," due June 7 on his own Perro Verde Records imprint through Nonesuch, are sung in Spanish and English. Helping Cooder weave the pastiche of conjunto, corrido, R&B, Latin pop and jazz are Chicano music great Lalo Guerrero, late Pachuco legend Don Tosti, singer Little Willie G. (Thee Midniters) and Ersi Arvizu (The Sisters, El Chicano).
"I think we did a pretty good job at using this music to demonstrate a lot of things about daily life and good ways,” Cooder said. “I got very lucky here. Willie G turned out to be a monster, masterful songwriter. It's good to hear from these folks again."
Although Cooder had originally hoped a book would accompany the CD, at present there are no plans to release that aspect of the project.