Victor Rendón and Bronx Conexión To Release “Mambo Boulevard”

2016 marked the Bronx Conexión Latin Jazz Big Band’s highly acclaimed debut titled TRUE FLIGHT. After a five-year hiatus, the dynamic 20-piece ensemble, ably led by the percussionist, composer, arranger Victor Rendón returns with MAMBO BOULEVARD, which exceeds the high standards of its first effort.

The ensemble’s ongoing “mission” keeps the big band tradition alive and creates a diverse, exciting repertoire that appeals to a broad audience. Suffice it to say, Mambo Boulevard does not disappoint.

Rendón’s El ChocanteChale, and Nueces River reflect his passion for straight-ahead mambo with elements of Latin jazz. Biwa Lake is a lush, old-school bolero. Rick Faulkner’s Leeway (a play on words) tips its hat to the renowned jazz trumpeter, composer Lee Morgan and his signature Blue Note Sound. Dancers will revel in the ensemble’s versions of Arsenio Rodriguez’s Mami me gustó and Orquesta Aragon’s Aprende muchacho, soulfully sung by lead vocalist/sonero Jorge Maldonado and backup/coro singers Marco Bermudez (a leader in his own right) and Hector Dávila. The album closes with the descarga Aguacero, an improvised jam session that is bound to move the most casual listeners. 

Initially, The Bronx Conexión Latin Jazz Big Band modeled itself after the orchestras of Tito Puente, Frank “Machito” Grillo, and Mario Bauza. According to Rendón, “it began mainly as a rehearsal band playing stock charts.” Later, Rick Faulkner and Joe Mannozzi brought in new compositions, arrangements, and remakes, and the rest is history. Another significant factor is an extensive residency at lower Manhattan’s renowned Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which gives the ensemble the freedom to experiment with new material and perform it in front of a live audience (the residency is ongoing). The experience was crucial to expanding the ensemble’s repertoire and the development of its trademark sound.  On a more sweeping scale, Mambo Boulevard is a testament to Rendón’s leadership and the ensemble’s commitment to excellence. It’s the next best thing to experiencing the band live at the Nuyorican Poets Café.

Special guests include trumpeter Ray Vega, lead vocalist Jorge Maldonado, background vocalists/coro, Marco Bermudez, and Hector Davila (aka Chegüi Metralla ), and cymbal player Morris “Arnie” Lang. Also, soloists Paul Carlon, Michael Viñas, Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Joe Stelluti, Anibal Martinez, Guido Gonzalez, Al Acosta, Jessica Valiente, Debra Kreisberg, Mark Mc Gowan, Karl Watson, and Yasuyo Kimura make significant contributions. 

TRACKS 1. El Chocante; 2. Chale; 3. Mami me gustó; 4. Mambo Boulevard; 5. Biwa Lake; 6. Aprende muchacho; 7. Leeway; 8. Nueces River; 9. Aguacero

PERCUSSION Timbale tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, Drumset tracks 7, 8, 9 – Victor Rendón
Tumbadoras/Congas – Wilson “Chembo” Corniel
Shekere and other percussion – Cascadu
Bongo, cencerro – Yasuyo Kimura

WOODWINDS Flute – Jessica Valiente
Alto Saxophone – Al Acosta, Debra Kreisberg
Tenor Saxophone – Joe Stelluti, Paul Carlon
Baritone Saxophone – Karl Watson

BRASS Trumpet/Flugelhorn – Anibal Martinez, John Replogle, Kathleen Doran
Guido Gonzalez – tracks 3, 6, 7 (solo), 8
Aquiles Navarro – tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7
Mark McGowan – track 9
Trombones – Rick Faulkner, Leonard Walworth, David Chamberlain, bass trombone – Preston Judd

PIANO Joe Mannozzi

BASS Michael Viñas

GUESTS Jorge Maldonado – Lead vocal on “Mami me gustó” & “Aprende muchacho,” maracas & guiro, Ray Vega – Trumpet solo on “Mambo Boulevard” & “El Chocolate,” Hector Dávila aka Chegüi Metralla – Coro on “Mami me gustó” & “Aprende muchacho,”Morris “Arnie” Lang – Cymbals on “Biwa Lake”

ABOUT VICTOR RENDÓN Victor Rendón is a highly respected educator, author, and veteran of the New York City Latin music scene. He studied intensively for many years with Jimmy Ramirez, Dr. Rosemary Small, Louie Bauzo, John Almendra, “Little” Ray Romero, Frankie Malabe, Mike Collazo Sr., Pablo Rosario, Changuito, Roberto Borrell, John Amira, Morris “Arnie” Lang, as well as jazz drummers Paul Guerrero, Henry Okstel, & Charli Persip among others. He has worked as a side man with Mongo Santamaria, Chico O’Farrill, Carlos “Patato” Valdés, Ray Santos Orchestra, Grupo Caribe, Latin Jazz Coalition, The “New” Xavier Cugat Orchestra, Grupo Latin Vibe, Los Mas Valientes, Rudy Calzado, and many others. 

As an author/transcriber, his work has appeared in Modern Drummer, Percussive Notes, LP Newsletter, Music in Motion Films, DCI Music Video, Drum! Magazine, and Warner Bros. Publications. He is the author of The Art of Playing Timbales distributed by Alfred Publishing. For several years Victor also published his own semi-annual magazine, Latin Percussionist. Rendón, who holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas and a Masters degree in education from Hunter College, in the New York City Public Schools. A successful clinician, he conducts workshops in Latin percussion styles. Mr. Rendón is an LP, Sabian, Vic Firth, and Evans performing artist and educator.



Tomás Peña
Tomás Peña
A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject.

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