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A.B. Quintanella III Presents Kumbia Kings

Four (EMI Latin)


With his decade-old work with his sister, the late superstar Selena, A.B. Quintanella made a musical case for the loping cumbia rhythm as a bridge between the West African sounds that shape Latin music and the hip-hop sensibility that flavors pop radio. This, the third studio album from his own group, ups the ante considerably.

Collaborations with similarly eclectic innovators announce this album's vision in grand style. Teaming with El Gran Silencio, the group produces an exuberantly traditional arrangement (accordion, horns, horse-clop rhythm) that morphs into a hip-hop breakdown with fast rhymes and exhilarating scratches. "Mi Gente," an Ozomotli copiloted populist anthem, blends War and Santana elements into boldly modern funk. And the menacing reggae track "Insomnio," with its lush harmony refrains and shimmering accordion fills, offers infectious rock charms.

Part of the insurgent thrill of this album is how boldly it steps to the pop sounds of the moment. The album's original material closes out with four English-language tracks of contemporary R&B (before remixes of the opening cuts). Aside from smart, spare arrangements that emphasize the remarkable charms of each melody, what makes these cuts particularly special is singer Frankie J. Bautista, whose voice is fluid, tender and uniquely alive.

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