Ezequiel PeÑa first grabbed glory as the former lead singer of early-'90s group Banda Vallarta Show. On "Viva la Banda," PeÑa revisits his roots.

Ezequiel Peña first grabbed glory as the former lead singer of early-'90s group Banda Vallarta Show. On "Viva la Banda," Peña revisits his roots. Wisely, he recorded the set in banda music recording capital Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. To add authenticity, he utilized a crack backing band, providing proficient tuba, vibrato and fortissimo trumpet blasts. Peña may not be a strong singer or a songwriter, but he has good looks, is a skilled horseman (which lends ranchero cred) and is judicious in selecting strong material to record. Peña stands out on opener "Canta, Canta," a rousing, underrated José Alfredo Jiménez chestnut. The vivid corrido "Diez de Mayo" interlaces sentimental Mother's Day and immigration themes. Heavy on the waltzes, "Viva la Banda" continues Peña's back-to-basics journey. And for nostalgia, Peña throws in one quebradita—the anthemic title track, which exults in his genre's stellar rise.—RB

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