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Celso Piña
Barrio Bravo

cd cover To those who think that innovation in Mexican music is limited to the alarming norteamericanismo of rock en español, we suggest this disc as an antidote. Accordion master Celso Piña offers up thirteen tracks of stellar "avant-garde" cumbia. While his own playing is fairly traditional, he places it in contexts that borrow from hip hop, Brazilian tropicalismo, reggae, punk, and Afro-Hispano-Caribbean music. The beauty of this disc is that Piña never sounds like he is radically departing from his traditional musical roots: rather he is simply expanding them. The music on Barrio Bravo does not feel like an awkward hybrid, either, but the natural consequence of musicians listening to a diversity of music and integrating those elements into their own playing. Not only is the music well conceived and executed, but the whole album is expertly produced and sequenced. The only noticeable weakness is in the packaging. The notes are difficult to read, and the track information is found on the tray card behind the transparent CD tray.

Piña's accordion and voice achieve the perfect balance between restraint and emotion, conveying great feeling without delving into sentiment or mawkishness. Piña is joined on Barrio Bravo by an all-star line-up of innovative musicians: El Gran Silencio, Café Tecuba, Quem, Control Machete, Blanquito Man, Eder da Rosa Alves, and others. With tunes like the Spanish language version of the Brazilian classic "Solo quiero un Xodo," Barrio Bravo is the perfect bridge for fans of tropical Latin music to explore the rich and varied world of regional Mexican music. - Erik Keilholtz

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