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BEST OF 2006 / POP MUSIC | LATIN MUSIC / AGUSTIN GURZA

Crossing borders, blending sounds

December 17, 2006|AGUSTIN GURZA

Chambao, "Pokito a Poko" (Sony Norte). This Spanish group, the hot exponent of flamenco chill, has perfected its hypnotic, graceful fusion of flamenco and electronic music in an album buoyed by irresistible rhythms, spiritual serenity and uplifting messages.

*

Quetzal, "Die Cowboy Die" (Quetzal Music). L.A.'s only world-class Chicano band since Los Lobos, Quetzal has made its best album, employing its smartly balanced blend of rock, R&B, Afro-Cuban and son jarocho to propel songs that are provocative, heartfelt and strikingly original.

*

Tego Calderon, "The Underdog/El Subestimado" (Jigiri/ Atlantic). The long-awaited new album by this hoarse-voiced Puerto Rican is everything hip-hop was meant to be -- edgy, outraged, witty, vibrant and danceable -- but in Spanish with salsa flavors.

*

Julieta Venegas, "Limon y Sal" (Sony BMG). This Mexican singer-songwriter continues her sunny transformation from artsy alternative chanteuse to queen of pop hooks in an album that combines both sides with wonderful melodies and crafty lyrics. She sings of romance with intelligence.

*

Marisa Monte, "Infinito Particular" (Metro Blue). With this gorgeous album of new songs, Monte consolidates her status as one of Brazil's major female pop figures, gifted with a pure and seductive voice and a natural knack for blending her samba legacy, classical training and jazzy influences.

*

agustin.gurza@latimes.com

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