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Meet Banda Nueva York: from Broadway to Regional Mexican music

In a new band, Mexican and American musicians in New York diverge completely different from their day jobs.
26 Jul 2016 – 10:35 AM EDT

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After the curtain comes down on Broadway’s "The Lion King," Andrew Beall, one of the orchestra musicians, heads off to play a completely different tune: regional Mexican music. He’s a member of Banda Nueva York, a new band based in New York City.

It all started last year when Adán Perez, a Sinaloa-born vocalist and former engineer who abandoned his career to study opera with Placido Domingo, was drinking tequila with his friend Christopher Scanlon, a renowned American trumpeter who plays for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Scanlon proposed that they start a Regional band.

"At the beginning I thought he was a little crazy because of that," Pérez said during an interview with Uforia Music in Washington Heights, New York. "He showed me his iPhone and it was filled with music from Banda El Recodo, Banda Original El Limon... those great brass bands from the state where I was born."

Despite Pérez's initial skepticism, the two started talking and before long, they had a band. They recruited Broadway musicians, including those who perform in "The Lion King" and "An American in Paris," at philharmonic orchestras, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and jazz clubs across New York. Many band members aren't Regional Mexican experts; they've received training in classical music, jazz, and big bands.

"These musicians are trying to have fun … because you need to be very perfectionist [to play that type of music], then we just go and chill out," Pérez said. "We’re just trying to enjoy and have fun with it."

Banda Nueva York’s first shows featuring Regional Mexican covers were in Harlem and Queens. And in July, the band released its first single, "Today I bring you Serenata." The song was composed by Pancho Pikadiente with arrangements by maestro Julio Lizárraga, who has worked with La Original Banda El Limón. And while the melody imitates the style of Regional bands, Banda de Nueva York's sound differs from the genre given the perfect harmony and pitch between trumpets, trombones, clarinets, tuba and percussion.

The group also aims to stop promoting violence. Regional Mexican has been a favorite of Mexican drug traffickers, in part because it originated in Sinaloa, home to some of the country's most powerful cartels, including that of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Instead, Banda New York plans to create music that reflects the reality of the Mexican-Americans in New York.

"Many of the bands come from Sinaloa and bring their voices from there, but we as artists want to see the voices of people who work and live here in the United States," Pérez explained. "We'd like to express the fears, desires and needs of the Mexican-American community."

Banda Nueva York's next show will be held July 30 at the Patron Night Club in the Bronx.

"I don’t what what is gonna come in the future but the group right now is trying to learn the style and eventually it will bring its own voice," Pérez said.

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