Album Review of
Mariposas Cantan

Written by Joe Ross
August 24, 2020 - 6:23pm EDT
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Inspired by the great Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria, Mongorama is the brainchild of Los Angeles disc jockey, bandleader and songwriter Jose Rizo who formed the group in 2011. Their third album, “Mariposas Cantan,” features ten masterful musicians who blend infectious Latin rhythms with jazz melodies on a very solid and satisfying set featuring hot percussive beats, intricate horn charts, inspired solos, and tastefully rendered vocals. Always a crowd pleaser, Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” is given a relaxed treatment featuring solos on tenor sax, piano, congas and vocals. Mongo Santamaria’s “Mongorama” and “Quindimbia” are strong covers in the hands of these accomplished musicians. Guest trombonist Francisco Torres arranged nine of the songs, and he also co-wrote five of the songs with Jose Rizo. Their approach emphasizes lively dance tunes like “Mambo Mindoro,” “Mariposas Cantan,” “Helen of Jazz,” “Quiero Menudo,” and “East L.A. Meets Napa.” Songs typically pair evocative vocalizing with spirited violin, sax or flute solos. Their co-penned “Descarga Ramon Banda” is a highly charged offering, arranged to provide opportunities for driving solos from several in the band. The band’s musical director and flutist Danilo Lozano wrote the spirited “Fiesta De Charangueros.” Dedicated to the late and legendary timbalero Ramon Banda who appears on six tracks, this album is an outstanding set of Latin jazz and salsa.   (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)