A Latin Original
Mario Flores hits Sly’s.
Thursday, May 6, 2004
For local conga player Mario Flores, a love of Latin jazz might be hereditary. Growing up in the Central Valley town of Modesto, Flores was introduced to music via his father’s massive record collection of around 2,000 albums ranging from Led Zeppelin to mariachi music. Flores mainly remembers the sounds of Latin jazz being played at home. “It was around the house all the time,” he says.
Now, Flores is releasing his second album, Cocinando , a collection of 11 songs that could be easily placed between his father’s Cal Tjader and Mongo Santamaria records. Though the album somehow evokes images of dancing in a sweaty, humid nightclub as well as relaxing on a tropical beach with a frozen daiquiri, Flores assures me that the past year and a half spent on the record was no vacation.
Since 12 busy musicians from all over California play on the record (including the great Pete Escovedo), Flores had a heck of a time finding an open spot in everyone’s schedules. Also, Flores says, there were a handful of times when he had to stall production due to a lack of finances.
But after all the hard work, Flores is visibly pleased with the results. One of his favorite tracks is the opening number, a rearrangement of Tito Puente’s “Mambo Diablo.” Also, Flores is pleasantly surprised how vocalist Joel Nixon’s adlibbed lyrics on “Shout It Out” came out.
One of the hardest songs to record was an original called “Ramona’s Revenge,” a number dedicated to one of his wife’s most popular recipes. “She makes the hottest habañera chili on Earth,” he says.
The percussion-heavy song races along until the last few seconds when the band plays a taste of Santana’s “Oye Como Va.” “I had to throw that in,” Flores says. “Why not?”
Mario Flores plays Sly McFly’s, 700 Cannery Row in Monterey, on Saturday night at 9pm. 649-8050.