The dance floor is the only place to be when Jonny Martinez y Grupo Bravo start jamming. For their latest CD La Callejera, released Spring of 2003, the group unveils six uptempo cumbias, all written or co-written by Jonny. They’ve got a touch of vallenato, a touch of conjunto, and loads of ritmo y sabor.
Released on AMI Records, La Callejera also contains 4 rancheras, a bolero and a polka. On rancheras such as Valerio Longoria’s “Ojitos Verdes” and Cornelio Reyna’s “Ni Los Pleitos,” Jonny returned to his conjunto roots and achieved his most hardcore sound yet.
Jonny produced the CD, exercising a degree of creative control unprecedented in his career. Tejano Music Awards Songwriter of the Year Arturo Guillermo co-wrote two cuts and produced the vocals.
Touring extensively in the U.S., Jonny saw firsthand how crowds have been responding to the Colombian cumbia sound. “If I’m going to play it, I might as well write it,” he reasoned, and he set out to create some cumbias that showcase his knack for rhythm and his trademark sense of humor.
With their charisma and enthusiasm, not to mention their aggressive style of playing, Jonny Martinez y Grupo Bravo quickly convert crowds into loyal fans. The youngest of four siblings, Jonny grew up surrounded by music–his father, Anselmo “Chemiro” Martinez, was a popular Orquesta Tejana artist in the ’60s and a 1982 inductee into the Texas Talent Musicians Association’s Hall of Fame.
After starting out at Missouri Valley College on a football scholarship, Jonny graduated from Missouri Valley College in Dec. 1992 with a bachelor’s in mass communication. His family roots are in Morelos, Coahuila, his grandparents’ birthplace. Jonny Martinez y Grupo Bravo blasted on to the scene in 1995 with the album Caminos Chuecos, featuring the ranchera title track and novelty cumbia “La Musiquera.” They followed that up with the hit ranchera “Chaparrita de Oro” off second CD, Ron Con Coca Cola. Martinez and Arturo Hernandez took creative control for third CD Mujer Mexicana, best known for the fiery ranchera “Mujer Paseada.” -Doug Shannon