I sat down a few weeks ago with Malamanya, the latest salsa y rumba band in the Twin Cities at their cozy South Minneapolis' "Brownbag Studios." Getting to know a little more about a band who proves that using spoons as drumsticks, while banging on pots in pans in your Abuelitas kitchen is still something to be proud of.
Malamanya is made up of all acoustic instruments, grouped by local musicians percussionist Luis Alvaro Ortega- Castrellon and Jesse Marks; Tony Schreiner on up-right bass, Trevor May on the "Tres" and flamenco guitar; Jason Marks on trumpet and the lovely vocals by the beautiful Latina mujerona essence Adrianna Rimpel.
This corrillo brings so much sabor and heat that they make the Nomad World Pub feel like a jam session with the Buena Vista Social Club. They can turn the Driftwood Bar dance floor into an El Barrio block party within minutes of playing, while striking listeners to continue on their night with a Fania after party.
Each member of Malamanya targets a bulls eye by resurrecting the spirits of Celia Cruz, Ramito and Joe Cuba; while keeping Willie Colon's, Yomo Toro's and Johnny Pacheco's alive.
Schreiner takes leadership as the "conjuntos" musical director. He came together with the vision of forming a group after being inspired by the "Negocios Lindos" mixtape. An album which features a variety of Fania composers such as Colon, el cantante Hector Lavoe, and Johnny Pacheco. After hearing the NYC, DJ Fred Schmaltz compilation, he grew an obsession with Latin Music of the 1960s and 70s era.
"I played it as much as I could," explained Tony. "And eventually met up with Luis a year ago while he was playing for a SotaRico event." Luis expressed his same excitement to Tony for the music which raised and inspired him.
"We started building the band from that momentum," recalled Luis Ortega-Castrellon who is of Panamanian and Puerto Rican decent.
"and through mutual friends, we were introduced to everyone else in the band. It came together like a domino effect, and we all get along great which is also a cool thing," vibes Luis, with a classic smile expressing his chill and one love vibe.
"Organically were heading to making our own original takes and making it work," stated Tony.
I was a fan from the moment I heard Adrianna Rimpel sing her first note, accompanied by the traditional strings played by Trevor May and Jason Marks on trumpet. Adrianna's voice brings me back to the empowerment of women, when the rise of the Latina Soul was dominated by the sounds of la reinas Celia Cruz and La Lupe in Latin Music; but more toned down and settled to a mix of "Viva Chango's" Celina Gonzalez with a drip of Bonny Rae. May's passionate playing will buzz you like a fine Shiraz, while making your heart pump faster to express life's "amor y pena." Jason Marks' trumpet nurtures you like an Arturo Sandoval stew sprinkled with Willie Colon's sazon. Every member highlight each others performance. Luis' smooth Ray Barretto-ish hits and Ruben Blades vocal-swag, plays a key role parrelled with Tony's "cool-kat" swing on his amazing bass playing. I admit my favorite part of their show is Malamanya's energy to get the crowd to participate in the mostly traditional, call and response cantos. It placed me back to a child being raised by grandparents who played records, while cooking; singing about migrating, cross- culture living, struggle, faith and love with pride of being "jibarros," no matter where life placed them in the world.
"In every show we want to express, take our positive vibe to our fullest advantage, by creating a force to have all people relax, live, dance and have a fun time during this hectic stage in the economy," explained Trevor. "And continue to learn more, create more! Malamanya will learn our next path once we do it."
Tony Schreiner follows up, stating the mission of their music and performance is "to Preserve and inspire."
"Drink dance and..," Smiles Tony, "well you know," pauses as he drops the F-bomb.
We all laughed as Adrianna followed Tony's statement with
"okay lets just calm down now."
Along with having a good time, MalaManya also dedicates their sound towards bridging their support towards hope. Percussionist Jesse Marks is co-organizing their next gig at the XY and Z Gallery, which is a fundraiser to assist a child friend in Peru who underwent a life-threatening surgery. All proceeds of the event will be donated to help assist his medical treatments and expenses.
I look forward to dancing my night away soon to Malamanya's music and encourage you to keep warm with their ritmo.
Catch their show out on Friday November 12, at the XY and Z Gallery, 9pm-2am with Dj Turtleneck
Check out their Youtube live performance at downtown Minneapolis' Hell's Kitchen
Join their music-fan page www.facebook.com/malamanya