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Brass Roots: Purple Cha Cha Heels

Dan McClenaghan By

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"Latin music, I always thought, had something special going for it, a rhythmic invention, a pulse, that's free and uplifting."
— Guitarist Ry Cooder, in an interview with George Varga for The San Diego Union.


The bets are in, and it's running about three-to-one that you've never heard anything quite like Brass Roots Purple Cha Cha Heels before. Latin music, distilled to a pure essence. Two trombones, a trumpet, baritone sax, and, of course, the congas. Chamber mambo, if you will.

Composer/arranger/trombonist Jim "Mondongo" Messbauer—a top trombone gun on the vibrant New England jazz scene for the last fifteen years—is the brains behind Brass Roots. "Mondongo" composed all fifteen songs on Purple Cha Cha Heels, and the sound is—surprisingly, for such a small group—full and rich and delicious, brimming with smooth caressing rhythms. Uplifting, as Ry Cooder says.

The CD's title, various song titles, and some of the photos of the band suggest an undercurrent of whimsy; these guys—and one gal, the twenty-five year old Venesuelan percussionist, Ana Norgaard—are obviously having a good time here, but it's also clear that they are very serious about their music.

Purple Cha Cha Heels is an infectious, energizing, uplifting set. If you don't get up and mambo about a minute into this one, whether you know how to or not, check your pulse.

Visit www.accuraterecords.com .

Track Listing: A Day in the Life of an Afro, Free for a Dollar, Purple Cha Cha Heels, Carnival, Fajita Fajardo, Cruzin', Let It Slide, Company Pongase Duro, Merengana, Those Who Trespass Against Us, Kick Your Culo, Chachita, Chau, Tjader Dude, When Elephants Fly

Personnel: Russel Jewell, trombone; Jim "Mondongo" Messbauer, trombone; Ana Norgaard, congas, bata drums, cowbell maracas, timbales, guiro; Scott Aruda, trumpet; Tim Meyer, baritone sax, flute; special guest--Gonzalo Grau, piano, guira y tambura on "Merengana"

Title: Purple Cha Cha Heels | Year Released: 2003

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