Welcome To My Mambo

Posted on May 17, 2011

The 19 piece Pacific Mambo Orchestra has been making quite a splash in the SF Bay Area since starting their Monday night residency at Cafe Cocomo, one of SF’s major salsa palaces last November. Led by pianist Christian Tumalan and trumpeter Stefan Kuehn, this mighty band has been making Monday night a scene. Not that Tumalan and Kuehn are not busy…Tumalan leads Montuno Swing, a smaller band that’s been making quite a buzz and Kuehn, part of Mazacote, an explosive band led by former Willie Colon timbalero Louie Romero. Pacific Mambo has been boasting all star players in their ranks such as timbalero Karl Perrazo of Santana, vocalist-percussionist Omar Ledesma, saxophonist Pete Cornell and trombonist Mike Rinta. Not only are they playing classic mambo and latin jazz from the Tito Puente and Machito songbook but they are performing original material as well. The idea of maintaining a big band of that size in this day and age of tough economic times is amazing but also inspiring. The band was recently part of a live broadcast on my Saturday night program Con Sabor on KPFA 94.1 FM. They were swinging, exciting and powerful. However, Pacific Mambo Orchestra is not the only mambo in town. Bandleader Tito Garcia has been leading his smaller Orquesta Internacional for many years playing classic mambos and salsa. But the sight of seeing 13 horns wailing on stage has been driving a new and devoted audience to spend their Monday nights at Cocomo.