The duo of Willie Royal and Wolfgang "Lobo" Fink can normally hang out in the new-age bins. But really, these guys deserve a category of their own. Call it Gypsy chic meets surfer-dude chic. (Their music was heard in a surfing documentary Blazing Longboards, and they're both avid wave hoppers.) The duo sound like Ottmar Liebert on mild sedatives, but they're turned down a notch from the passionate flamenco sound of guitarist Jesse Cook. On their 10th CD, guitarist Fink and violinist Royal called on longtime friend and trumpet superstar Rick Braun to perform and produce, and the result is some hard-earned magic.
In fact, Braun--who has worked with the duo on four other CDs--helps elevate Zambra to the top of Willie and Lobo's canon. Their music has matured and diversified, assimilating the festive with the mournful. Mournful is easy with a violin, of course, but on the CD's standout track, "Donde Vayo," it's heightened by Royal's vocalese and Braun's smoldering, Spaghetti-western trumpet vibe. Braun again shines in "Velas Al Viento," where he takes a turn adding vocal flavorings. Braun also penned "Balada Para Katrina," dedicated to victims of last year's devastating hurricane.