“I think there is a song out there to describe just about any situation.” (Criss Jami)
A friend and long-time loyal blog follower recently sent me a 30-Day Song Challenge meme in the hope that I couldn’t resist taking the challenge and blogging about it. Here’s Day #25 – A Song in a Different Language: Malo, Cafe
Mix some high energy funk horns in a blender with a scoop of the intensity of Santana’s pulsating rhythm section and a dash of jazz sensibilities and what it would become is the group Malo featuring Carlos Santana’s brother Jorge on guitar. Sadly, Jorge passed away due to natural causes on May 14.
As much as I love, love, love Santana, I agree with the Allmusic.com review:
. . . despite some expected similarities to Santana, [Malo] played some of the most exciting and exuberant fusions of rock, soul, and Latin music. [They] leaned more heavily on hot Latin jazz brass than Santana did, though Jorge Santana himself generated plenty of friction with his burning electric guitar. It’s not an exaggeration to state that . . . Malo’s Latin rock blend sounded fresher than Santana’s, if only because they sound hungrier and less formulaic.
But musician, bandleader and WBGO radio host Bobby Sanabria summed it up well on his Facebook tribute to Jorge Santana: “Picture Blood Sweat & Tears fused with Chicago, fused with Afro-Cuban rhythms and guitar driven rock. It was Santana on steroids.”
My thoughts? Citing those two quotes is my evidence that I agree. Their self-titled debut album is the equivalent if not better of Santana’s first three albums.
Unfortunately the band couldn’t match Santana’s radio hits and by the third and fourth albums, Malo imploded with many of its members leaving to join some of the biggest names in jazz and Latin music. Jorge went on to a solo career. What was left of Malo carried on but it wasn’t close to the same. What a missed opportunity for what could have been incredible contributions to popular music.
This song Cafe is so hot.
 HUGE statement coming from me.