Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta at Crescent Ballroom, 10/21/11

Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta Crescent Ballroom Friday, October 21

The only thing missing from the Crescent Ballroom last night was a haze of cigar smoke as Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta channeled their inner Perez Prado to dazzle an eager crowd with their unique brand of mambo.

Packing the stage with 12 musicians in all, Mendoza and his troupe set a pace that was less feverish, and more on the funky side. Decked out in white coats and black ties, the Tucson boys made the new ballroom feel like a swanky soiree.

They rolled onto the stage and slowly riled up the crowd with "Molino Rojo" before launching into the dance-inducing "Ojos Negros." From that point on it was all shoulder shimmies and couple swinging on the dance floor.

The self-described "indie mambo" band featured a six-man horn section and a potent percussion component to create big band jazz sound, but it's the guitar wielding of Brian Lopez and Cumbia fusion that earns the indie label. Just when you get the rhythm down of any given song, Lopez comes in with a psychedelic wah-wah that catches you off guard. With so much going on, Mendoza leads the ensemble, making sure no one gets lost in all the music, transitioning from conductor to pianist to acoustic guitar seamlessly.

While most of the night was instrumental, lead vocalist Salvador Duran absolutely mesmerized with his beautiful baritone vox whenever he got the chance. "Las Calles de Tucson" really let him soar and was downright fun; especially when Duran put down his maracas to delve out a bravado foot stomp.

The group played for only an hour but kept the crowd clapping and hollering the whole time. Much to everyone's delight they concluded with a two-song encore that included "La Rienda" and "Traicionera." It was kind of spaghetti western by that point. which might sound weird, but it was totally cool.

Mendoza and his Orkesta are gearing up for their first European tour which sets sail in January and after two long years, are on the cusp of releasing their first album, Orkesta.


"Molino Rojo" "Ojos Negros" "Patricia" "Cherry Pink + Apple Blossom White" "Las Calles de Tucson" "Toma Tres" "Mambo In The Dark" "Cucharita" "Mambo #8" "Mambo Mexicano"

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta at the Crescent Ballroom

The Crowd: Mostly dapper dressed Latin loving Anglos

Random Notebook Dump: Never understand why people do the "LA-LA-LA-LA" scream at Latin shows.

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