Grammy-winning talent fires up night of Latin music at academy
By Bob Kostanczuk Post-Tribune correspondent October 18, 2013 1:04PM
The zesty Latin sounds of the Pacific Mambo Orchestra will be displayed at an Oct. 26 concert at Wirt/Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy in Gary. The show will feature Tito Puente Jr., son of Latin jazz pioneer Tito Puente. | Photo provided
If you go
Who: Pacific Mambo Orchestra, with Tito Puente Jr.
Where: Auditorium at Wirt/Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy, 210 N. Grand Blvd., Gary
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 26
Tickets: $20; student tickets (with ID) are $10; group rate (20 or more) is $10 per person
Worth noting: Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com and the following locations: Delia’s Barber Shop, 2409 Parke St., Lake Station; El Pueblo restaurant, 5350 U.S. 6, Portage; Hot Buns Cafe, 925 Central Ave., Lake Station; MJ’s Fashion & Accessories, 4532 Indianapolis Blvd., East Chicago; Tarimoro restaurant, 4294 Central Ave., Lake Station; Las Palmitas, 402 W. 37th Ave., Hobart; and Just Cuts Barber Parlor, 2749 Dekalb St., Lake Station.
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:22AM
When the Pacific Mambo Orchestra comes to Gary on Oct. 26, it will be no time to put on a passive air.
Audiences are inclined to move and groove to the Latin-flavored sound.
“It’s high energy; it’s danceable,” said trumpeter Steffen Kuehn, co-founder of the big band.
“Our lead singer from New York is Willy Torres, who’s a Grammy Award winner,” Kuehn noted.
The orchestra’s ample skills will be unfurled in the auditorium of Wirt/Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy.
“This is a rare opportunity to see an incredible presentation of Latin music,” said Mark Spencer, president of Gary-based Mas Media 7, which is presenting the show.
A highlight will be the performance of pianist Marlow Rosado, who won a Grammy Award this year for Best Tropical Latin Album.
Additionally, the concert will feature Tito Puente Jr., son of Latin jazz trailblazer Tito Puente, who died in 2000.
“We’re honored to have him on the tour,” said Kuehn, who related that Puente Jr. will play timbales at his Gary appearance.
The Pacific Mambo Orchestra plays the music of Tito Puente, Machito and Celia Cruz.
The salsa-loving band likewise sprinkles in contemporary original compositions.
Born and raised in Germany, Kuehn’s road to the Pacific Mambo Orchestra began when he came to the United States to study music at the University of North Texas.
“I roomed with a piano player from Colombia,” Kuehn recalled.
His indoctrination into salsa music started then.
“I’d never heard of salsa music in my life,” Kuehn, 48, said.
His roommate helped open the door to a new melodic experience: “He showed me the players of the genre ... I fell in love with the music.”
While the Pacific Mambo Orchestra draws inspiration from Latin big bands of decades ago, its musicians stay up to date, as far as the material that is dished.
“We give it a 2013 twist with contemporary arrangements,” said Kuehn, a California resident. “The harmony is a little bit more contemporary. We do some Latin jazz.”
Kuehn and his bandmates released the album “Pacific Mambo Orchestra” in 2012. Two of its tracks are “El Cantante” and “Overjoyed.”
Hailing from the San Francisco area, the orchestra will contribute to a culturally rich Saturday night in Northwest Indiana.