Chicago-Based Bands - Mambo 7

Mambo 7

(Photos and review by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved)

cuban music, musica cubana

Mambo 7 at Green Dolphin Street, 2 March 2011

Background:  According to lead singer Demo, Mambo 7 has been around for about 7 years, but neither that nor the number of members (usually 11) accounts for the name, which was inspired by the notion of 7 different kinds of mambo.  Demo stated that key influences are El Gran Combo, Hector Lavoe and Johnny Ventura.  Most of the members including Demo are of Dominican origin, which helps explain why some of the group's key strengths are their merengues, bachatas and the ability to segue seamlessly between the two during the same song.  They also do some nice interchange of salsa and cumbia within the same song, and they have a larger than average amount of crossover material and songs in English.  The group's members as of March 2011 were Demo (lead singer), Gio (vocals), Felo Perez (bass), Roberto Perez (congas), Ivan Perez (guiro), Michael Swing (saxophone), Chocolate (trumpet), Francisco Mortero (trombone), Rafa (drums) Jose Poet (piano) and Manuel Gigante (timbal).  The group already has a crossover song out, Down Down , which can be heard on the web  and is getting some radio play.  The band is  also touring the Midwest regularly. 

What we saw and heard:  Demo told us before the set that we would be hearing a lot of Latin Fusion  and some crossover material in addition to the usual salsa, bachata and merengue, and the group played as he predicted.  We heard an 8-piece incarnation of the group (the drums, trumpet and timbal were not in the mix for this set), but the trombone and sax were effective together, and the trombonist (Francisco) delivered some nice solo work.  Two examples of some of the crossover/fusion material were an English-language bachata version of "Stand By Me" and an English-language salsa/cumbia mix of "Yesterday".   They also did a respectable amount of regular salsa and bachata (one of their strengths), and of course merengues, one of the areas where they are standout-quality.  Demo and Gio on vocals make an energetic front line.

The Verdict:  We enjoyed this very much, especially for their merengue and bachata work (they fuse these as well as play them separately).   They are definitely up in the front of the local pack there.   The salsa and salsa/cumbia were also very enjoyable, and they also fuse salsa/cumbia well.   This writer confesses that he has always had mixed feelings about crossover in general (it's harder than it looks to really make it work well),  but he sometimes caves in when it's fun enough, and he  was won over for the evening with Stand By Me and Yesterday , particularly the first one.    This group is very good at what it does, and if you are into crossover (as many people are), this is a definitely a band to check out for that as well.    For Down Down ,  their current radio song, here's a link to lead singer Demo's Myspace page:

Demo's Myspace Page

 

 

lunes, 16 enero 2012, 01:55 pm