Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Message in the Mambo

Sotomayor. There's music in those syllables.

There is already a "Sotomayor Mambo." It's not really a mambo, it's modern Cuban salsa, and it's not from Da Boogie Down, South Bronx, where Judge Sotomayor hails from. It's from...Norway. Trondheim and Oslo to be precise, with a hand from Havana. 6 Norwegians and 2 Cuban expats make up the Mambo Compañeros, now test-marketing the cozy, anglicized name Mambo Companions.

This isn't a video, just an mp3 with still image. What's really interesting is that the National Institute for Latino Policy (that's US policy) has given it their endorsement, as you can see in the end credits. Reportedly, they were tipped to the song by Howard Jordán, host of WBAI's The Jordan Journal.

Now, the chorus is catchy enough, but as a national policy "response" to the right-wing attack media, it's a little thin. There's not much here about Judge Sotomayor's personal story or accomplishments, and I didn't hear one mention of her Nuyorican heritage. Cuba and the band, on the other hand, get numerous shoutouts. The Cubans in Compañeros are Alexander Fernández, who worked on some early albums of Cuban timba star Manolito Simonet, and Luison Medina, both active in various European bands. It's basically a party song, dedicated to the judge [Correction: See Update].

We'll see if the Mambo Compañeros' answer to Obamagirl goes viral. It's great to see musicians anywhere pay tribute to Sonia Sotomayor, who no doubt will continue to inspire her share of plenas, salsas, mambos, merengues and other ecstatic outbursts in song.

You gotta wonder, though, if Latin bands from the Bronx are not just a little bit peeved that NiLP, a think tank whose home address is Avenue of the Americas, New York City, has outsourced their national mambo policy to Norway.

I have a feeling I have entered a "no public comment" zone.


I just spoke with Kaare Kolve of the band Mambo Compañeros in Trondheim, Norway and solved "The Mystery of the Sotomayor Mambo"...

[Follow the link to read more]

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