Artists You Should Know: Tumbao 21

The Fresno BeeOctober 16, 2013 


Tumbao 21


Tumbao 21 is less a band and more a collaborative music project — an all-star team of musicians working to re-imagine what people think of as Latin music.

You won't be seeing them at a club anytime soon, but the group — local musicians Mike Yturralde and Tony Manjarrez, along with Tony Shogren and John Crespo — have composed songs and lined up musicians to record the project and are looking to fund it via the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

The group is hosting a pledge party and Latin jam session, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Mia Cuppa Caffé (formally The Revue).

Here, The Bee talks with Shogren about the idea behind the group.

Let's start with the significance of the name.

Tumbao refers to the principal rhythm and flow of the binary time and place keeper of clave, which is the foundation of Afro-Caribbean music. Among its many usages, one may also refer to "tumbao" as a group or a character of montuno movement (in Cuban music). The lucky number 21 refers to the now not-so-new-millennium.

The project has been described as creating "a new paradigm for Latin music." What is that new paradigm? Why do you think you are the guys to do it?

This is essentially a reshuffling of the familiar in new compositions. Many of the folk styles, that were originally rejected as not jazzy enough, are re-embraced.

What about The Big Three (Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez)? How influential were those players in what you do both inside and outside the project?

The Big Three is significant in that the Palladium era (in New York City during the 1950s) represents the last time Latin big bands held major public standing. The adolescence of the Latin era was formed in this period of time, which paved the way for the "Salsa" branding and the New Yorican revolution. Also, this is the era in which many of the values of jazz were added (to Latin music).

Tell us about the album.

Many parts of the new business model for music are mostly incompatible with a project like Tumbao 21. The new method already assumes the creation of the largely commercial pop medium, with the hopes of marketing celebrity for selling products unrelated to music. This paradigm replaces the record company with a marketing and/or media firm. This puts the actual music product second in priority and leaves little space for new creativity.

However, we as the composers and creators propose a new form of funding through an online resource known as This now places the general public as our executive producers without the dreaded record company.

Know a local band or musician more people should be familiar with? Send details to Joshua Tehee, or @Joshuatehee on Twitter.

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