Rumba Sin Fronteras - Pancho Quinto
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Pancho Quinto
Rumba Sin Fronteras
Riverboat Records (

cd cover Working since the Batista-era 1950s, Cuban percussionist Pancho Quinto, a dockhand by trade, made an early mark with La Sonora Matancera and the pre-expatriate Celia Cruz. He went on to found Yoruba Andabo, whose repertoire drew upon the sacred Regla de Ocha tradition (a.k.a. Santería) in which Quinto is an initiate and master drummer. Teaming with Merceditas Valdés, a singer whose talents compared favorably with the better-known Cruz, Yoruba Andabo came to the attention of Canadian jazz flautist and soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett, who began tapping Cuban sounds in the early 1980s. Some jazz listeners will thus have heard Quinto and Valdés on a succession of Messidor and Blue Note releases with Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana.

Touring the United States in 1998, Quinto was drawn to the vibrant Bay Area pan-Latin music scene, where he made common cause with rumberos Lazaro Rizo and Guillermo "El Negro" Triana. On Rumba Sin Fronteras, Quinto melds their superb voices with a battery of percussionists, including Miguel Miranda, Alexander Nápoles, Octavio Rodríguez and John Santos, together with producer-guitarist Greg Landau and Cuban pianist-composer Omar Sosa. Beyond his singular piano and keyboard work, the latter draws upon conservatory training as a percussionist on "Sosa en el país de las maravillas" (Sosa in the land of marvels), wherein his years in the African-descent communities of coastal Ecuador's Esmeraldas region take the form of a transcendent marimba lead. But in the spirit of traditional Cuban rumba and carnaval street music, the compelling essence of this recording resides in the magnificent vocal harmonies, the sonorous choral interplay, and the deceptively understated polyrhythmic tapestry behind the singers. The result is one sublime session, confirmation of the vital ongoing relationship between sacred batá and secular rumba percussive traditions that infuse popular derivations of Afro-Cuban music at home and abroad. - Michael Stone

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