By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
In the years since its inception in 2002, this local multicultural band has definitely succeeded in its quest to create what it defines as a Latin jam-band sound. The eight-piece act embraces funk, hip-hop, cumbia, timba, jazz, Caribbean rhythms, and whatever else that fits. Much like the Spam Allstars (with whom Chicago-born trombonist Chad Bernstein also performs), Suénalo Sound System is a true musical melting pot, with members who hail from Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, and different parts of the United States.
Simply put, these musicians see no borders when it comes to music. In fact that seems to have been what band founder and guitarist Phil Marangues had in mind when he began recruiting members at Monkey Village, a local storied musicians' colony. After the bandmates got together and honed their skills for two years at the now-defunct Paco's Village in Miami Beach, their collective vision was set in stone, and the rest is history.
For those still unfamiliar with Suénalo's sound, it pays to spend some time streaming music from the group's MySpace page, which contains a few samples of the band's studio work. "The Hits" begins with a mambo-inspired guitar riff and then goes into more of a soul direction, as MC Amin De Jesus freestyles in between blues-inflected guitar solos from French-born Gerard Glecer. "Tiki Bar" kicks off with a Brazilian samba-reggae feel that is joined by Caribbean steel drums that take the song into more of a cumbia/ska direction, while "Ya Ya" clearly borrows from Seventies Latin funk.
Though it is almost impossible to define Suénalo Sound System, one word definitely applies to the band's music: infectious. Their continuing popularity around town further attests to that.