Los Super Seven Changes Style, Number

The project is called Los Super Seven, but there are actually eight principles involved in the all-star collective's second outing, Canto.

"The Super Seven basically boils down to anybody we feel like playing with," explains Steve Berlin, the Los Lobos saxophonist who produced Canto and 1998's acclaimed Los Super Seven LP. "It's just a name, a cool name. Last time out it was Super Nine, really; Joel Guzman and Max Baca deserve as much credit as anybody. It could be 12 the next time. I hope it will be a team everybody wants to be on."

Canto is, by design, a markedly different disc than the first outing, which did for Norteño and Tex-Mex styles what the Buena Vista Social Club did for Cuban music. Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez are gone this time; the Mavericks' Raul Malo, Susana Baca, and Caetano Veloso have joined Berlin's Los Lobos mates David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, country singer Rick Trevino, and Latin great Ruben Ramos, and the song selection took a different direction after executive producer Dan Goodman's travels in Mexico.

"The basic vibe is a little more Caribbean, a little more looking southward instead of quite as Tex-Mex as the last one was," Berlin explains. "My backup plan was if it didn't work, we could do half a record the way we did the first one and half with less Tex-Mex-sounding stuff. But as we progressed, it took on its own shape and we knew it was going to be different all the way through."

Most importantly, Canto offers proof — to fans and to the musicians — that Los Super Seven wasn't just a one-off collaboration between friends.

"Los Super Seven is not just seven guys singing on an album; it's the celebration of all kinds of Mexican music, Latin music," says Trevino, who sings lead on two of Canto's songs and will release a Latin roots album called Mi Son in May. "I'm real proud it stands for that. It's not just about the musicians or the record; it's about everyone. Los Super Seven is going to take on a life that stands for great Latin music, whether it's Mexican, Tex-Mex, or international music."

Though logistics make it impossible for Los Super Seven to do much touring, the group is busy following Canto's Tuesday release, appearing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno Tuesday, performing at the Los Angeles House of Blues yesterday, and playing at Austin's South by Southwest music conference this week. Next week, the band will play on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the day after a performance at New York's Bowery Ballroom.