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Bold Choices Signal a Vibrant Outlook

**** LOS SUPER SEVEN "Canto," Columbia/Legacy

March 11, 2001|ERNESTO LECHNER

Los Super Seven's second album begins with a gutsy choice, as if the collective wanted you to know right away that this second effort functions on an altogether different level from its Grammy-winning debut.

Performing Ernesto Lecuona's "Siboney," one of Cuba's most revered classics, is the kind of challenge that separates the men from the boys. Los Super Seven's flawless rendition exudes the solemn mood of a religious ritual.

This sensation that you are participating in a ceremony of sorts persists throughout the record. Even when the players are partying hard, when you can almost see them smiling at the sheer infectiousness of Miguel Matamoros' salsa workout "El que siembra su maiz," "Canto" remains a serious affair. Serious because these musicians see the Latin American songbook as a source of spiritual renewal.

Eclectic and unexpected, the song selection is brilliant. The cabaret poetry of Bola de Nieve coexists effortlessly with Caetano Veloso's tender samba and new compositions by Los Lobos' Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo.

The diverse background of the group's new members (Veloso, Peru's black diva Susana Baca and the Mavericks' Raul Malo) also hints at a new, pluralistic view of Latin music. Los Seven's first record looked at the future with optimism. On "Canto," that dream has become a reality.

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