Pickled with Latin American instruments, the authentic jarana and donkey jaw-built quijada clean David Wax Museum's music of kitsch mariachi comparisons.
David Wax, a Columbia, Mo. native, graduated from Harvard in 2006. On a fellowship from his alma mater, he ventured to Mexico. Taken by the music of the region -- son calento, son huasteco and son jarocho -- he began extracurricular studies in genre fusion.
Accompanied by multi-instrumentalists Suz Slezak and Greg Glassman, David Wax Museum's music is a cross-cultural playground of complex musicianship that respects foreign aesthetics while integrating domestic staples. The band combines Spanish-infused jam-band sensibilities and traditional American folk songwriting. 2011's "Everything is Saved" leads with "Born with a Broken Heart," in which wordplay reminiscent of Paul Simon's "Graceland" steps all over a danceable huapango beat. "The Rumors are True," off "Knock Knock Get Up," has Wax's cloudy vocals top a track founded in Mexican horn work.
The result is a curious cue to explore the unknown. If Wax can go south and find inspiration, where else might it be found?
All photos by Jonathan Miller.