Modesto, CA, April 9 2004 - The State Theatre, in association with KRVR The River and Ole' Productions, was proud to present a hot-blooded, exuberant, sensual, and intoxicating evening of Latin jazz and salsa music on Friday, January 26th, at the State Theatre, located in Modesto, CA. This impressive night showcased Latin jazz, master-percussionist Mario Flores Cocinando. This show displayed familiar Latin and salsa tunes of the late, greats Tito Puente and Cal Tjader, with some of the band's own original tunes in the cha-cha, rumba, mambo, salsa, and Afto-Cuban styles.
The State Theatre concert gave a sold out audience a rare opportunity to experience a unique genre of ethnic music in the Central Valley. Mario's 10-man, musical ensemble captivated the packed house with it's big-band sound. The group featured guest artist Benny Velarde, timbale player extraordinaire. Velarde being one of the last living Latin jazz legends to play with Cal Tjader in the style of Tito Puente.
Mario Flores' impressive journey as a conga-player, or conguero, began over 25 years ago. Born and raised in Modesto, he grew up listening to his father's vintage record collection, which included the music of Woody Herman, Count Bassie, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader. At the age of 17, he went to San Francisco to purchase his first conga drums. He intensely studied Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz rhythms on his way to becoming a self taught conguero of exceptional ability.
The core of his Latin rhythm section was created with close friends Mike Miller, Joel Nixon, and Modesto native Mark Gee. Starting from "garage-band" roots, his group expanded into a professional, studio-recording ensemble. Adding exceptional players along the way, which include Brian Stock on trumpet, Stu Reynolds on sax, Pete Wilde on bass, and brother Cortez Flores on timbales.
Mario has been influenced by the music of Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Chano Pozo and Mango Santamaria. He has performed with such outstanding entertainers as Pete Escovedo, Bobby McFarren, Carl Anderson, Cornelius Bumpus and Freddie Ravel. Past performances include the Riverbank Wine & Cheese Festival, the Stockton Asparagus Festival, the Merced Jazz-Blues Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee and the First Night Monterey. His group frequently plays in the Carmel/Monterey/Santa Cruz/San Francisco bay areas.
The Mario Flores Cocinanco diverse flavor, effortless groove and hard-hitting rhythms are well-represented on their recently recorded debut CD, "Chiltepins" (a wild pepper). The cross-section of music includes renditions of well-known tunes and the band's originals composed by Mark Gee. If you are a Latin jazz aficionado, then it would be a golden opportunity to purchase the CD to add to your collection at most of the band's live events.