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Rumba Sin Fronteras

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Album Review

Just avoiding the pitfall of the stereotypical aged Cuban performer making a comeback with his traditional arts and classic stylings, Pancho Quinto turns Cuban rumba on its ear with Rumba Sin Fronteras. The basis of the album is the classic rumba format, but innovations come thick and heavy throughout thanks to Quinto's guarapachangeo innovations. The bata drums, a signature addition of Quinto's, make themselves heard clearly, as does a deep cajon or two. A pair of vocalists from San Francisco mix up the phrasing of their lyrics a bit, adding a slight edge to the syncopation that adds a bit of tension, but not so much as to be noticed in its own right. The Afro-Cuban mood is extremely strong, with the bata providing much of the feel. Along with the bata, a stray, African-style marimba shows up in "Sosa en el Pais de las Maravillas," enhancing the connections further. The album opener shows off ties to quiet storm R&B for a while with keyboard riffs before moving into a more proper rumba again. Piano, bass, and sax make "Bolero en Medio del Carnaval" into a jazzy affair reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie's landmark Afro Cuban Jazz Moods in many ways, but with perhaps an even stronger clinging to the jazz side. The mix of genres is fluid throughout the album, with the Afro-Cuban coalition represented by the guarapachangeo style being an extremely strong one, powering its way through even the slowest of melodies with a breakneck speed. While the rumba on its own is a nice genre, the modified rumba here is something really worth hearing. While on the fringes of the Cuban revival, Pancho Quinto is on the forefront of innovation.


Formed: Cuba

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '90s

b. Francisco Hernández Mora, Cuba. Tellingly, percussionist extraordinaire Pancho Quinto’s most widely available release is entitled Rumba Sin Fronteras (Rumba Without Frontiers). He offers an unconventional take on his home country’s most exuberant music, fusing rumba with rhythmic and harmonic elements from other Afro-Cuban and African-American traditions including jazz and hip-hop. Quinto’s music career was started with performances in traditional religious ceremonies, earning the rank of omo...
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Rumba Sin Fronteras, Pancho Quinto
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