And The Winner is …..Pacific Mambo Orchestra
Pacific Mambo Orchestra, aka PMO, was nominated for their first Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album, alongside prolific artists Marc Anthony, Los Angeles Azules, Sergio George Presents Salsa Giants, and Carlos Vives. When the category was called mild shock was the order of the day for the band leaders, with smiles that can light up a room, Steffen Kuehn and Chrsitain Tumlan hard work had paid off. Pre show our host Peter Newman has a chance to chat with the band leaders about their nomination.
Pacific Mambo Orchestra has taken the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond by storm, establishing itself as one of the nation’s most exciting live acts since its 2010 inception. A dynamic 19-piece Latin Big Band that plays salsa, mambo, Latin jazz & cha cha, PMO features some of Northern California’s finest musicians, including trumpeter Steffen Kuehn and pianist Christian Tumalan, co-bandleaders.
Just months after the release of its first album, made possible by Stefrecords and Tumalan Music, PMO recently completed a whirlwind national tour, featuring Tito Puente Jr.
PMO’s sizzling, self-titled debut honors the sounds of the great Latin Big Bands of the 1940s through 1960s, including Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez, while infusing them with an intoxicating new energy. Richly textured arrangements flow through the entire production, with exquisite playing by ace musicians. With a repertoire of mostly original scores, the selections move in a frenetic pace, pulsing with the sounds, rhythms and beats that only a true Big Band is capable of producing.
Pacific Mambo Orchestra is currently the only fully active Latin Big Band on the West Coast. PMO’sinstrumentation consists of four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, piano, bass, timbales, congas, bongos and the female lead singer Alexis Guillen. PMO’s members have performed and/or recorded with the industry’s biggest names, including Carlos Santana, Ray DeLa Paz, Jose Lugo Guasabara Orchestra, Los Adolescentes, Isaac Delgado, Gilberto Santarosa, Tito Rojas, La India, Victor Manuelle and many others.
On the brink of huge success, PMO is a fast moving train, so you better jump on board.
Tour Review by Timba.com.Gary, Indiana.
“I already knew about the Pacific Mambo Orchestra from having reviewed their fine CD by the same name, so this was a must-go for me, and some of Chicago’s heavy hitters from the Chicago International Salsa Congress came as well”. They got what they came for. Once inside, the theater was an excellent venue for this.
This was a Show – not just a concert. (Anyone who doesn’t know the difference has never seen a band do the former.) Grammy veterans Marlow Rosado, Tito Puente Jr. and Willy Torres helped put this over the top, but the PMO still would have been an impressive group even without them. Co-leader/pianist Christian Tumalan had a stage presence that at times is reminiscent of the Liberace that audiences fell in love with before all of those other stories about Liberace surfaced.
The band as a whole roared through classics like Ran Kan Kan, and there were also a few modern touches including Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed a la Mambo and a special cameo appearance of the Roland Keytar, which Mr. Tumalan used in lieu of an electric guitar midway through the performance.
Vocalist Alexa Weber Morales turned in excellent vocals (including a nice original song from the group, Bolero Cocomo, dedicated to the Café Cocomo in the band’s hometown) as well. The band clearly enjoyed its guests and vice versa – when Marlow Rosado was at the piano or took turns directing the band, he became possessed until he had to step back away. Willy Torres was a lot of fun out front but even more so when he joined the percussion section while still singing. And Tito Puente Jr. – well, you’ll be able to tell from the pictures.
The absolute highlight of the program was a piano duel between Christian Tumalan and Marlow Rosado at the end of the show. Each took turns sitting at the keyboard trying to outdo each other, and they began throwing off parts of their suits (Marlow even kicked his shoes off) as things heated up. Somehow both they and the piano survived, but not for lack of trying to do each other and the piano in.
This band was clearly having a good time up on the stage, and the fun was infectious throughout the audience. Chicago’s Maggie Garcia from the Chicago International Salsa Congress ended up on stage dancing with Willy Torres (this means, of course, that it is now on Gary to send its own folks over to dance on Chicago’s stages.) The engagement should prove to be an excellent start to the rest of the PMO tour, and hopefully we’ll see them back in the Midwest next year. Meanwhile, this is a highly-recommended show if you have a chance to catch it in other cities. If you lack the good fortune to be on their itinerary, there is always their CD.