Be a part of Pacific Mambo Orchestra’s first studio album! Swimming against the technological current, in 2011 pianist Christian Tumalan and trumpeter Steffen Kuehn formed a 19-member acoustic force to be reckoned with.  One year later, the San Francisco Bay Area is loco for PMO, which plays premier clubs and festivals and is packed with Grammy-recognized musicians.

How can I get in on this?

Ride the wave with us! By April 23, PMO aims to raise at least $10,000 to record 10 songs — 2 covers and 8 originals.

Already 13% fan-funded, the project collects your pledge on Kickstarter. Here’s how it works:

Step 1. Check out the rewards  (from lessons to ore-ordering CDs) here.

Step 2. Sign up (just name and password). Pledge via credit card.

Step 3. If we make our goal, your pledge is charged. Follow the project via updates, collect your rewards… and bask in your awesomeness!!!

Jazz isn’t dead, it’s danceable!

Why am I so excited about PMO? A couple reasons. I’m working with 19 powerful, experienced musicians, among them 2 Grammy winners and a number of nominees. The group is led by two pragmatic, slightly wacky, extremely productive and ambitious composers. I get to sing with several crazy talented singer/percussionists. I love the repertoire. I love the dancers who so elegantly sweat to our sounds.

It’s hard to explain the rush I get when I’m standing on stage and suddenly it all gels. It happens every time. My hairs stand on end, there’s electricity in the air, I feel an intense communication flowing among us all, and an easy-going mutual appreciation. Whenever someone stands to take a solo, I listen. Some play angular pandiatonic lines, others leap about like beboppers, a few remind me of old blues guys. Some “talk” to the band with their trombone or timbal, and the band nods back knowingly.

I’ve always fought this notion that jazz was dead or in need of being kept alive (meaning it was a vegetable on life support). Jazz lives in almost all American music, if not harmonically then rhythmically. You hear it in the comping of guitars, or in bass lines. Jazz has also been indelibly changed by latin music, and as the U.S. becomes more Hispanic, our music has absorbed the contributions of the Caribbean. When you hear these guys soloing on stage, the melodic ideas are essentially jazz. But the powerful rhythm and irresistible tumbao of the bass, piano and percussion is salsa, mambo, cha cha cha. And we love to dance to it.

I keep comparing PMO to Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, to anyone who will listen. Unfortunately it appears most people I mention this to have no idea what I’m talking about. Basically, the idea is that more than 20 years ago author Garrison Keillor embarked on an anachronistic venture to produce an old-time radio show that was both nostalgic and contemporary, and it has been quite successful on public radio. I think the same applies to PMO. We’re not old-fashioned, but there’s a beautiful community about it, and a sweeping power to the music that you can’t find naturally anymore except in a symphony hall, where you’re supposed to sit still and listen. Some of the new tunes are hip and modern, but with this big-band instrumentation that is just so American.

I hope you’ll join me in playing a part in the project!