Charanga Cakewalk

Chicano Zen

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Back with a relatively rapid follow-up to his debut, Charanga Cakewalk (actually Michael Ramos) takes a different tack. Bringing in a number of different vocalists (Lila Downs, Patty Griffin and Ruben Ramos), he goes for a much more rootsy feel in the music, one that's more about songs than instrumentals this time around. The contrast between this and the first disc works well. They don't so much complement each other as offer a progression, the feeling that Ramos has fully learned how to integrate the ideas that made his debut so good into a wider canvas. There are touches of many styles, from danceable norteño to son, along with the more abstract touches, like the title track. With Chicano Zen, Ramos fulfills the promise he made on his first album, and looks set to really become a major Latin artist of imagination and technique.

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