Stand on the corner of Cedar & 42nd in South Minneapolis and it can feel like you are eavesdropping on the sounds of a jukebox smuggled out of 1960s Havana. On summer nights, when windows fling open gasping for cool air, Afro-Cuban rhythms and celebratory exclamations radiate from a basement up the street where nine dedicated musicians are rehearsing classic, timeless Latin songs.
Malamanya began in 2009 aiming to create music that would fuel late nights of dancing, drinking, and connection… music that anyone could get down to, regardless of language, race, or ethnicity. From these intentions and desires came their band name, Malamanya (Spanish for the bad habit).
After eight years together, Malamanya is releasing their first full length album. The self-titled LP is comprised of their favorite vintage songs from throughout Latin America filtered through their uniquely eclectic yet traditionally rooted Latin sound. From track to track, conga drums, timbales, and bongos provide foundational hypnotic rhythms. Accenting these rhythms and adding melodies are upright bass, acoustic piano, and the Cuban tres guitar. Lead vocals by Cuban-native Zusel Balbin cut through this combination, soaring back to another time when Celia Cruz and La Lupe dominated Latin airwaves.
Recorded using the same approach employed on their favorite Latin records from the 50s and 60s, Malamanya’s debut effort was cut to tape live in one room by the group’s co-founder, Tony Schreiner, at his Minneapolis based Brown Bag Studios. Whether you are brand new to Latin music, or a long time aficionado, Malamanya is sure to lift your spirits and move your feet.