Rimbombante has been winning over fans with their exciting brand of hook laden Latin jazz. People from jazz purist to casual musical fans are hearing something special in Rimbombante. After an unexpected hiatus the group is ready to re-establish itself on the jazz and World-Music circuits.
Rimbombante’s Bolero Past: Rimbombante is a Spanish term that denotes something flamboyant or having a strong resonance. It is also the name of an Ottawa-based band playing music inspired by Latin America. Rimbombante is part of Majunga Music, a small entity guiding the music of World-Music and jazz acts. Rimbombante began in 2006 interpreting classic bolero songs from Latin America. The bolero is like a jazz ballad only it has a stronger rhythmic quality. In 2008, Rimbombante recorded Una Aventura Más that is collection of classic bolero covers with a few originals. The reaction to the originals was strong enough to encourage Rimbombante to develop an original repertoire. Soon afterwards Dean Pallen, the group’s saxophonist, began writing the new material. In the winter of 2010, Rimbombante began practising the new repertoire with an expanded ensemble and playing them around Ottawa and Eastern Ontario and Quebec to work out the kinks. The result is Maria has Lost her Soul that was recorded in 2011-2012.
The Rimbombante Sound of Today: The current repertoire of Rimbombante encompasses a broad array of Latin, jazz and popular music influences. When Rimbombante expanded the group it incorporated musicians from Brazil and Cuban and this has enabled Rimbombante to expand musically. The key is how the Latin heritage of the musicians of Rimbombante intersects with the varied compositions and musical structures of the group’s repertoire. The Rimbombante sound is defined by its melodies, mixture of styles and Latin rhythms and tempo and overall accessibility without a sense of compromise. While the Rimbombante sound might still employ the classic bolero sound, the 3-2 clave or rare Brazilian rhythms, it is the meshing of these elements with Dean Pallen’s unique compositions that make the Rimbombante sound.
The Musicians of Rimbombante:
Dean Pallen: saxophones Evandro Gracelli: guitar Salomon Carcillo: percussion Gerg Horvath: standup bass Arien Villegas: drums Carlos Santana: pianist
Dean Pallen Saxophonist, Composer and musical arranger: Dean is the leader of Rimbombante writing and arranging the group’s music. He serves the same role for Raivo, a group that mixes African, jazz and popular music influences. He released two albums as the co-leader of Raivo that can be found on CD Baby. In 2010, he released Strathcona Park a collection of original jazz compositions. His World-Music tendencies are mixed with his love for composers like Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Claude Debussy and Brian Wilson. He recently started a new project called Dean Pallen Presents Madagascar that will lead to a recording session and public performance in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, he will release Sunswept Sunday, a recording of rare Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn songs that was made with pianist J-P Allain.
Evandro Gracelli Guitarist and Composer: Evandro was born in Vitória state of Espírito Santo-Brazil. Evandro started playing when he was 13 years old and had studied with Julinho Marques, Ulisses Rocha, Chriso Rocha, Wilson Lopes, Alberto Trindade and Nelson Faria. He received his music degree from Unicamp (University of Campinas-São Paulo-Brazil). He has a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Major in Guitar and Popular Music. In 2004 he released his first album Urucum, an acclaimed work. Urucum led Evandro to Itaú Cultural Rumos Musica 2005 (a prestigious Brazilian prize), and Urban Jungle Records’ “Hi Brazil” CD, released in Europe 2007. He has scored music for films and works as a musical educator. Currently Evandro is involved in musical projects in Brazil (Trio Canastra - choro and jazz Brazil, Meia Fina Trio- jazz Brazil) and in Canada (Florquestra Brasil, Roda de Samba, Patricia Cano, Tropicantos, Sol da Capital, Rene Gely, and Rommel Ribeiro). Evandro also plays the Cavaco –Cavaquinho, a traditional string instrument from Brazil.
Gerg Horvath Stand-up Bass: Gerg is a self taught musician. He began playing in rock bands during secondary school and studied jazz while at university. Around 2000, he became active on the Ottawa music scene accompanying and recording with local folk groups while playing in jazz groups. He also became a founding member of Raivo. Shortly afterward he left for Japan where he played in a number of classical music formations. He participated in both Raivo recordings (Hommage and Mahabibo). He played in the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra and is a member of the Divertimento Orchestra. He participated in the recording of Una Aventura Más. Since 2008, he has been playing with the electro-acoustic avant-garde ensemble Kingdom Shore.
Arien Villegas Drummer and Percussion: Arien is a percussionist and drummer who immigrated to Ottawa from Cuba four years ago. In Cuba he worked as a professional musician playing in Afro-Cuban and popular music bands. In Ottawa he has become a staple on the local Latin music and jazz scenes. He has been a member of the Caridad Cruz Orchestra and led a Latin big band called Cocktail Tropical. He is currently the drummer in the Miguel Angel de Armas. He was the drummer on Dean Pallen’s Strathcona Park.
Carlos Alberto Santana pianist and composer: Carlos is a musician and composer who is originally from Mexico and migrated to Canada in 1998. He studied jazz with Juan Jose Calatayud in Mexico and Jan Jarczyk from McGill University in Montreal. Carlos has played in most popular festivals in the National Capital Region and recorded on different projects with Mighty Popo album "Muhazi" (Happy Rock Studio, 2007); Servantes album "Bluesy Andalucy" (Studio Champagne, 2009); CBC Live Radio 2, 2010. He's also founder of Latin Jazz Trio YA! His major influences are Scott Joplin, Ernesto Lecuona, George Gershwin, Claude Bolling, Michel Camilo, Astor Piazzolla, Mario Ruiz Armengol and Chick Corea. He is an original member of Rimbombante and can be heard on Maria has Lost Her Soul.
Salomon Carillo Percussionist: Salomon Carrillo began his career drumming for a Gospel band in his native El Salvadorover30 years ago. After a period as a rock drummer, he participated in numerous Salvadorian Folkloric music groups that led to tours to in North America, Europe and Central America. Currently he is the co-leader of Shaman Rhythms that released its first album last year. The group is noted for its blending of Latin rhythms. He participated in the recording of Una Aventura Más.
Press coverage on Rimbombante
Beyond bolero Dean Pallen and Rimbombante get all romantic
May 12 2011
From the Wig
by Allan Wigney
Ottawa-based saxophonist Dean Pallen says he was “hesitant to do an official launch” of his band Rimbombante's first album, Una Aventura. Which is OK, according to Pallen, who is now preoccupied with the subsequent evolution of his Latin-flavoured combo , a group that features four musicians of Latin American descent, and specializes in romantic rhythms born of the bolero.
Or, at least, that was the focus for the band in its initial incarnation, some four years ago.
“We played a lot and I let it die,” Pallen says of the project. “We were playing in a particular style, and I didn’t want to be branded with that. I didn’t want it to be a limiting thing, I wanted to do something that responded to people’s call for something different.”
He also wanted to concentrate on original compositions, brought to the group by Pallen, and fact-checked by the band’s Latin members.
“We still play music that has a romantic spin on it,” Pallen says, “but it’s much more varied rhythmically.” He attributes this to the addition of Cuban drummer Arien Villegas, to augment the percussion section. He also credits the importance of pianist Carlos Santana — “Not that guy, that Carlos Santana, but to us, he’s the guy.”
Pallen’s passion has been fuelled by visits to Cuba, Chile and Costa Rica, where he has soaked up Latin vibes. And, he admits, he still loves a good bolero.
“What committed me to bolero is I just thought the melodies were great,” he says. “Some of the best you’ll ever hear. You know, because I’ve got a jazz background as well as pop, I want to hear a good song, a good melody.”
By Mike Levin
“Canadians are not used to hearing a singer pour every bit of their being into a song the way a bolero singer will.” Dean Pallen, Rimbombante.
Hollywood used Ravel’s Bolero to turn Bo Derek into a sex goddess in the movie 10, and then dropped her into lechery in the abysmal feature Bolero. This isn’t Pallen’s idea of the genre. His version may also be sweaty, but it’s far-more traditional, the slow dance music that started in Spain 200 years ago. He stumbled onto it in his punk-rock phase and has been using it ever since to navigate a musical path yet to discover its true direction.
Latin band Rimbombante is one of three headings Pallen is taking right now as a songwriter and saxophonist. Another is with Raivo, a world-pop-and-jazz group. And then there’s his solo jazz album called Strathcona Park.
“I’ve finally found that I’m grounded in jazz and love experimentation with music from around the world. But ultimately I’m a pop musician.” he says. His sound isn’t all that confusing – melodic mashups – but the influences are, probably because Pallen didn’t grasp music with a passion until his late 20s.
He comes from a working class family in London, Ont., where creativity, politics, even academics were never articulated. No surprise that he fell in love with punk music, especially the Sex Pistols, in his teens. It was also no surprise when he realized punk music was a crucible for politics, and Pallen soon became a very political person.
While working for UNICEF in Madagascar for three years following university, he got a bigger picture of the real needs of developing countries, something most NGOs can’t address. Now approaching 50, he’s made a career as a consultant in development-oriented projects. Music devoured while in Africa or Latin America was always his travelling companion.
Punk led him to Mink DeVille, a phenomenon in New York’s alternative music scene from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s but also a unique interpreter of nuevo-Latino melodies picked up from American Cajun to Cuban boleros. It fuelled Pallen’s fascination with Latin music.
He spent a year in Costa Rica, just to learn Spanish, before focussing on development work. He heard indigenous bolero and realized it fit his sensibilities. It also wore out boxes of his saxophone reeds.
“I’m passionate about a lot of different things, but I’m always looking for music that can take you somewhere, more musicians, more instrumentation,” Pallen says. That’s why his affair with traditional bolero (on 2010‘s Una Aventure Mas) could never be satisfying.
As he developed Rimbombante and Raivo, he found “all sorts on influences creeping into my compositions. I always wanted to (create) uniquely original music.” Then he met Brazilian guitarist Evandro Gracelli and Cuban drummer Arien Villegas, who joined Rimbombante and collaborated on original material that will show up on their next album.
Pallen feels this original repertoire has better dance hooks and fuses Latin pop and jazz into a much more attractive package. His litmus test for what works: “If I find myself humming it.”
Rimbombante will play Eri Cafe May 14.