Pacific Mambo Orchestra
Founded a decade ago by Mexican-born pianist Christian Tumalan and German-born trumpeter Steffen Kuehn, the Bay Area’s Pacific Mambo Orchestra is the West Coast’s premiere Latin dance big band. They set the Latin music world on its ear in 2014 when their self-titled debut won the GRAMMY for Best Tropical Latin Album. Boasting a glittering array of veteran masters and stellar arrangements inspired by golden age Latin dance innovators Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez, the 20-piece orchestra proved itself as a dance floor shaking force of nature during a long-running Monday night gig at Café Cocomo.
Powered by a sensational percussion section featuring legendary San Francisco-born timbalero Karl Perazzo (a 20-year member of Santana), Venezuelan timbalero Omar Ledezma Jr., conguero Javier Cabanillas, and Peruvian bongo expert Braulio Barrera, the band also showcases savvy improvisers forged in the region’s most celebrated Latin bands. The surging brass section includes trumpeter Louis Fasman (Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra and Wayne Wallace’s Rhythm and Rhyme), reed expert Aaron Lington (Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie), and trombonist Jeff Cressman (Santana since 2000, and Peter Apfelbaum’s Hieroglyphics Ensemble), while French-born Christelle Durandy brings sensually soaring vocals to the mix.