Foreground: Fernando Velásquez, Carlos Martínez, Arturo Vargas,
and Andrés González of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Guadalajara native Carlos Martínez was recently appointed musical director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, replacing his uncle, José “Pepe” Martínez Sr., who held that post for nearly four decades. In the mariachi world, 34-year-old Carlos is widely considered the best candidate for this role.
Carlos was born into a family of distinguished mariachi musicians native to Tecalitlán, Jalisco. His grandfather, harpist Blas Martínez, played with Mariachi Vargas in the 1940s. His father, the late Fernando Martínez, and his uncle, Pepe Martínez, were founding members of Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán. In 1995, Carlos became the youngest of four brothers to join that group, and in 2001, he became Nuevo Tecalitlán’s musical director, a position he held until leaving to join Mariachi Vargas in March of 2014.
As musical director of the renowned Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán, a group that often shares the stage with Mariachi Vargas, Carlos’ reputation grew significantly over time, surpassing the expectations of even the most discerning fans and industry experts. Through recordings, and through his performances with Nuevo Tecalitlán in locations throughout the world—including Germany, China, Korea, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, and all the major cities of Mexico and the United States—Carlos’ talent as a musician, arranger, and director attracted global attention.
His recording experience is extensive. Before joining Mariachi Vargas, Carlos wrote and recorded mariachi arrangements for some of the world’s most popular Hispanic artists, including Vicente Fernández and Edith Márquez (Mexico), Bertín Osborne (Spain), and Ángela Carrasco (Dominican Republic). His arrangements for mariachi ensemble are featured on six CDs by Nuevo Tecalitlán, as well as on recordings by many other groups including mariachis Femenil Nuevo Tecalitlán, Sonidos de América, Juvenil Zapotiltic, and Sol de mi Tierra.
Carlos studied music formally for six years at the University of Guadalajara’s School of Music, and for two years at the Guadalajara diocese’s School of Sacred Music. His violin teachers include German-Argentinian concert violinist Víctor Scholz and virtuoso Sergio Caratachea. Some of his most useful musical education came from his father, Fernando, and his uncle, Pepe, who began teaching Carlos the fundamentals of mariachi arranging when he was 14 years old.
Carlos Martínez will make his first appearance in Texas as musical director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán on June 7 at the Long Center, inaugurating the greatest mariachi in the world’s Sixth Generation.