HOCO

Sergio Mendoza releases CD after solidifying sound

2012-08-30T00:00:00Z Sergio Mendoza releases CD after solidifying soundGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
August 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Sergio Mendoza's CD-release party during HoCo Fest's Latin night on Saturday will be like crossing the finish line after running the Boston Marathon for the local big-band leader.

Mendoza's album, "Mambo Mexicano," took more than two years to complete.

"We wanted to develop a more solid concept for our sound as a band," Mendoza, 31, said of his first studio release. "That took some time."

Mendoza's group, dubbed Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta, has become a staple of the local music scene since its debut in 2009.

In those early days, the band relied mainly on covers, paying tribute to Perez Prado and other mambo kings of the 20th century.

Mendoza appreciated the power of the music, but he wanted to take it further.

"We wanted that 1940s mambo sound, but we also wanted to mix in some indie rock instrumentation," he said.

"Mambo Mexicano" brings the band one step closer to its goal.

The album, recorded mostly at the Wavelab and Waterworks studios in Tucson, is 12 tracks of original material that Mendoza penned with his band mates, including Salvador Duran, Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan and Marco Rosano.

Some of the songs, including the title track - a fiery, powerhouse piece - have made their way into the band's regular repertoire.

Others are brand-new works that feature an impressive list of guest artists.

John Convertino and Joey Burns of Calexico lend their talents, as do Nick Urata and Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa, who are featured on the ethereal closing track, "Sueños Amargos."

Mendoza also traveled to Mexico City to work with electronic artist Camilo Lara on the bouncy "Orkesta y Sonido."

Lara, who works under the project name Mexican Institute of Sound, called the experience "amazing."

"Sergio has a great feel for traditions but also for contemporary music," Lara said. "I love making his stuff a little more dirty."

"It was an interesting collaboration," Mendoza said. "My world is all music. His is all electronic."

Mendoza plans on going all out for his CD release at HoCo on Saturday.

In addition to the regular members of his band, his lineup will feature added brass, including five trumpets, six saxophones and four trombones.

"We've done it once before, and we really like the sound of the big band," Mendoza said. "With all the horns, you can get away with using less microphones. It gives it more of a live sound."

Always the perfectionist, Mendoza said he didn't think the band achieved the ultimate sound he wanted on the album, but he saw it as a solid starting point for future releases.

"It just feels good to have something out," he said.

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