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2000
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Local World Music Act

Mango Blue

Pan-American

Mango Blue It's only appropriate that Mango Blue take our World Music category: the 10-piece band is primarily Latin-based, but its members are from all over the world and are capable of moving into any number of styles. Italian vocalist Chiara Civello also leads her own jazz band. Alain Mallet is a jazz pianist as well as producer of the Story. Bassist/composer/vocalist and bandleader Alex Alvear was born in Ecuador. He moved to Boston in the '80s to study at Berklee College of Music, and since then has played in any number of Boston bands, including the early-'90s Afro-Cuban ensemble Aché, and worked with such acknowledged masters as Israel "Cachao" Lopez, Orlando "Puntilla" Ríos, and Celia Cruz. And such is Alvear's pan-American fluency that you can find him playing bass in any number of merengue or salsa bands around town. Mango Blue mix jazz, pop, and folk with a strong, funky undercurrent of Afro-Latin rhythms. Alvear can play call-and-response in a catchy chorus with the band's female vocalists, building a Latin-jazz groove over the course of the six-and-a-half minute cut without ever losing a sense of pop-song hookiness. And the bilingual "Immigrant Blues" could speak for everyone in this country of exiles.

-- Jon Garelick


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