Quetzal

Worksongs

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If Martha Gonzales -- one of Quetzal's lead vocalists -- decided to become a full-time soul or urban contemporary singer, she would probably have a bright future in the R&B field. Gonzales has a very soul-influenced vocal style, and she's quite expressive. But then, someone as eclectic as Gonzales would probably be selling herself short if she embraced one style of music exclusively -- and Quetzal is certainly a great place to be if you have a wide variety of influences. On Worksongs, the adventurous, risk-taking Mexican-American band continues to draw inspiration from many different styles. Rock, soul, and jazz are still parts of the big picture; so are Mexican folk, Afro-Cuban salsa and cumbia (both the original Colombian version and the Mexican interpretation). And Quetzal, much to their credit, manage to pull all of these influences together without sounding confused or unfocused; in fact, their experimentation sounds quite organic on this challenging yet accessible CD. One person who proves to be a valuable ally on Worksongs is saxophonist Steve Berlin, the album's producer. Berlin is best known for his long association with Los Lobos--another eclectic Mexican-American outfit--and he has also worked with everyone from Sheryl Crow to Buckwheat Zydeco to Faith No More. Stylistically, Berlin is all over the place; he has so many different Latin and non-Latin credentials, and that's exactly the sort of producer that Quetzal needs. A broad-minded band needs a broad-minded producer, which is why he works out so well on this impressively unpredictable CD. Clearly, Berlin does his part to make Worksongs a rewarding addition to Quetzal's catalog.

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