After a very long gospel and short homily on Lazurus, a sultry 85 Degrees, a long trip to Food For Less on Pulaski, Leo correspondence with Alumni heroes, and sound sweeping of the garage floor, I took a trip north on Harlem to River Forest. I was treated to the voices of two of my favorite Chicagoans - Victor and Connie Parra.
They are the hosts of each Sunday's Mambo Express and leaders of the like named orchestra. I wanted to lose twenty pounds, buy a white linen suit, get a coup going down south somewhere, drink a lime based beverage and dance like I knew what I was doing.
Alas, I grooved on the steering wheel. Good enough by far!
When I was teaching at La Lumiere School, we hired Victor and Connie for an Alumni event in the Marsch Gym ( designed by Helmut Jahn) and it was fantastico!
Catch Mambo Express on The great College of Du Page FM station - 90.9 on your FM dialon Sundays between 3-5PM.
Better yet! For your next event hire Victor and Connie Parra and the Mambo Express.
CONGO MULENCE @ KENYA - MACHITO
Victor Parra grew up the youngest of 15 children on Chicago's Westside. His father was a barber and musician who played at weddings, baptisms, and whatever neighborhood functions called for traditional Mexican music. While Victor acknowledges Mexican music as his background, he eventually discovered the drums and rhythms of Cuban music. After being stationed in Panama during a brief stint in the Army, he bought himself a conga drum. Thereafter he devoted himself to collecting and playing Afro Cuban music. Some of his favorite performers include Benny More, Tito Puente, Machito, and the Orquesta Aragon.
Victor leads the Mambo Express Afro Cuban band, specializing in the sounds that came from Cuba, he fell in love with the rhythm. With skilled instrumentals and rich vocals, they bring the history back in their performances. In addition to leading the band, Parra hosted a Radio Show on WBEZ 91.5 FM's weekly for over 15 years."The Mambo Express."
Parra explains his favorite music as follows, "Mambo came out the Danzon, the slow-paced Cuban music of the middle 40s. Danzon was a rhythm that kept repeating itself while staying in one place. Innovative musicians changed the bass line in the middle of songs and gave it more syncopation. Then someone came along and put some swing into it. Once you got into the swing, that was called the Mambo. Blackness came into the music with the conga drum." The Mambo Express, has performed at The Jazz Fest, Taste of Chicago, Summer Dance, to mention a few.
With The Mambo Express, you will be greeted by the rich and original sounds of Afro Cuban music. Close your eyes as the ever-changing rhythms play in your ears. Nothing quite soothes the soul like music rich in origin and timeless style.
The Mambo Express not only plays a wide selection of favorite jazz music but includes the knowledge and experience of Victor Parra's commentary. Combined with his favorite collections, he discusses the historical importance of Afro Cuban music, the similarities in the sounds of today's Afro Cuban music as compared to the rhythms of the past. Parra also compares Charanga and Conjunto music. His intimate familiarity of the music provides for three hours of passionate music and knowledge, not found on any other station. Hop aboard "The Mambo Express" for sweet sounds, and great history! THE ONLY MAMBO IN TOWN!